(One more time: not Rocky. But he’s on his way back!)

A few weeks ago, I was on vacation. (And it was glorious.) Part of my trip was to southern California – Fullerton to be exact (southeast of Los Angeles) – where Prof. Lisa Long, a friend of lo-these-many years, is making her mark with the faculty and students in the College of The Arts at Cal State-Fullerton (go Titans!).

It was great to see her new home, her office, the campus, the studio (where she teaches modern levels 1 and 2 in Graham-based technique and composition). I even sat in on two classes, meeting her students (terrifying them with the introduction that I was in from out of town, casting for a production – a conceit we could only hold for about 15 seconds, their fearfaces more than I could bear … but a good lesson, as she shared, in always being ready to say ‘Okay. Fine. I got this. Bring it.’), watching her work with them, seeing them absorb her passionate leading, internalize their learning, and respond in expressive wonder as their own creative light-bulbs ignite. It was gorgeous and meaningful in ways I’m still putting together.

In one of our many conversations about how much she loves her work at CSUF, and how wonderful her students are (reflecting their teacher, I keep reminding her!), I asked Lisa about how you ‘grade’ something so personal and creative. Is it based on how unique the work is? How well the dancer takes correction? The technical clarity and precision?

Yes, that. But also, she said, ‘One of the evaluation principles written in my course description is ‘risk’. I want to see what chances they’ll take.’

Holy cow.

My brain has been rolling that around ever since.

Risk as an EXPECTATION. Not like ‘oh yeah this could be dangerous so buckle up all your protective gear and sign six pages of waivers before you go’. But ‘Show me.’

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

Show me what you’ve got, Risk says.
How you dream,
what it sounds like,
where it moves,
how it feels,
what it imagines,
that it breathes,
if it lasts,
or doesn’t,
or has to.

Show me you can risk.

(Rev. Courtney Richards, leaving the keys under the mat.)

(Pastor, preacher, fancies-herself-a writer, maybe-eventually-DMin-student (yikes!). Connections Pastor at Harvard Avenue Christian Church, Tulsa OK. Lover of food, beverage, laughter, high heels, the people she works with, and the community she serves. Find her on Twitter @c_rev, where she’ll ramble about church stuff, rage over social justice stuff, throw around pop culture stuff, and occasionally rant about crummy customer service.)


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