When Meryl Streep was honored, for lifetime achievement, at the Golden Globe Awards last night, she could have quite justifiably spent her time talking about herself. She chose instead to talk about things that really matter, for all of us, right now.
In typical fashion, PEOTUS sent out several of his lengthy multi-tweet twits declaring her “overrated” and a “Hilary flunky.” Yeah… that’s presidential.
But his junior high school bully response is not the point (we’ve all seen that act by now). The point was what Ms. Streep felt compelled to communicate to the world in this rare opportunity to use her own words to communicate her heart as herself. She felt compelled, and as she always does, she walked out onto that stage and answered the call.
It was her time to shine and shine she did. She did that first by pointing out the delightfully expressive “foreign” nature of the business, people, and practice of cinema arts, secondly by speaking to the cultural ugliness and enjoyment of bullying that has so fully come to pass in our reality because of, during, and since this past election cycle, and finally by calling us all to support the press in its efforts of holding those in power accountable and true to their calling. She closed with a quote from Carie Fischer to “take your broken heart and make it into art.”
This is what being an artist and making art is really all about. It is forming something fresh, something that has not been seen in the world before, forming it from your own life experience, observation, consideration, and practice and creating something fresh, engaging, and beautiful; something that, hopefully, makes a change in the world. And this is what, in this time, each and everyone of us is called to do, with our own broken hearts, in our own way, and our own places of calling.
In a previous lifetime, when I was a seminarian (and a preacher), I came to love one story in the Hebrew scriptures more than any other. That feeling continues with me to this day and it seems particularly poignant in these times and at this moment. The story comes from the Book of Esther, when Esther is trying to find a way out of going to her husband the king to beg for the lives of her people. Her cousin, Mordecai, comes to convince her of the opportunity, the imperative, and the gift of the awesome responsibility she is being asked to take on and, in Esther 4:13-14, sends her the message, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?””
I believe that last night Meryl was given, and accepted, her Esther moment; the moment to stand and speak truth to power for people who are, or will be soon, in need.
Each one of us, as artists, as thinkers, as caring human beings, bears the very same responsibility and I believe that last night Meryl Streep issued to all of us a personal call to responsibility and greatness.
The only question left is will you… will I… will we, accept the call to turn our broken hearts into art (of whatever kind) that changes the world?
Like Meryl last night, perhaps YOU have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.