This is Church

Despite the schedule of rehearsals and studio work becoming ever more intense, I find myself eagerly taking up any chance to participate in events with Paperhanders outside our designated time together.

After the last volunteer day, I zipped straight out to Raleigh, to join our assistant stage manager as she cheered her friends in their Roller Derby game. She is a skater as well, but with iffy insurance, can’t afford to actively play right now.

That’s good for me though, since I got to sit right next to her and get the run down on the game and these teams in particular. I was a couple games in college, but I had forgotten most of the rules. I found that the whole thing made a lot more sense to me now that I have some experience with team-sport through dagorhir.

I really love it. I don’t think I’d ever play, but there are so few sports that I happily spectate for anyway. One more thing to go on the list of things I really should find time for.


After the following Saturday, Jonathan Byrd and Johnny were playing at the farmer’s market in Saxapahaw, and a significant portion of the Paperhanders went to see him after our rehearsal.

It was so lovely to sit with them all, as well as several significant others (like Emma!) and other strangers who felt instantly familiar in that communal way. I sat sandwiched between Chris Carter and Sarah Smith (a puppeteer who I am quite fond of, even among a group where I love basically everyone).

I like sitting near Chris because he’s very attentive and amused by his environment, and if you just linger near him long enough, he will always include you in his observations. Between songs, he observed cloud patterns in the sky, and told me about how he accidentally trained himself to be overly anxious about balloons popping by acting scared to amuse children.

As I sat there, thinking about how much I love this community, and how grateful I am to be here, Jonathan Byrd introduced his next song, which included a call-and-answer sing along portion. Smiling, he said “this is church, y’all”, not only to be a little cheeky about the singing, but because this is his community, his spiritual clan. It really is the core essence of church.

Knowing that Dave was, just earlier that day, in an actual church where we don’t really fit the community at all, I snickered at the irony. Then I just really wished he could be there with me.

But Dave had also just shared with me his own experience spending some time communing with our people in Houston, helping out and bonding. How much he wished I could be there to share it with him. The branches of our network grow ever larger. We have so many places we could land.

After the concert, our choreographer Tommy was having an open house at his new studio space, literally next door to the Paperhand studio. I wandered over with Maya, and we nibbled and sipped at the offerings as we learned more about his and his wife’s artistic vision and projects. It’s pretty cool, they’re dedicated to having an open space to help artists make their craft, and have some amazing projects of their own. Check them out:

Eventually I peeled off from Maya, and I met a really nice couple who, after learning a little about me, tried to sell me their friend’s mobile tiny house.

I can’t say I wasn’t tempted.


On the back patio of Tommy’s studio.


One thought on “This is Church

  1. Only took me two days to catch up! I’m so excited that I can share so much of these experiences vicariously! The way you write is so wonderfully open and inviting, thank you for carving out the time to include your net of family and friends in your summer!


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