I heard a sentence in Bible class today that just doesn’t ring true to my experience. The teacher was talking about performance and said that while he’d attended many concerts that had left him feeling personally fulfilled, he didn’t ever feel any closer to the people around him. Now, as this was his experience, I can’t disagree. I do, however, feel much differently about the way I’ve been affected by art (be it a fabulous concert, a moving play, or an inspiring painting).

Almost always, seeing something beautiful or true or inspiring connects me to others who’ve seen that thing. I feel bonded to them because we have shared something many, many people have missed. I think about the outdoor India Arie concert I attended in California. I can’t even describe how emotional that concert made me. It touched the deepest parts of me, and when the stage lights went out and the crowd started heading for the door, all I wanted was to hug the person next to me—the complete stranger next to me. Justin and I attended that concert together and to this day, four years later, we reminisce about how close we felt after that show.

I think, too, about the relationship created between two people who’ve read the same book—meant by the author as a type of written performance. Each person benefitted individually from the book, but, in reading that book, they added themselves to a community of readers—people who can understand life together in a unique and intimate way. It works the same for movie-goers. Star Trek, anyone?

If we’re honest, we’ll have to admit that even texts like the Psalms and Job, poems, are types of performances.

All of the time I run into people who’ve seen somebody in concert or gone to some exhibit or purchased some CD, and I feel closer to that person because we’ve shared something beautiful.

"Performance" certainly has limitations but the ability to foster community is not one of them.