Friday, August 2, 2019

Special Skill

As theatre camp counselors my daughter and her coworkers hold auditions to cast their camp productions. It is a gentle and low-stress process. Along with reading for parts each child fills out an audition sheet that has a few questions about roles they are interested in, whether they’d be okay having a large role, and so on.

One question has turned out to be the highlight of the entire experience. It reads:

Do you have a special skill?

The purpose of this question was to ferret out information about dance and/or gymnastics capabilities that could be useful in choreographing each group’s dance number. Of course, without being given this background information, the children’s responses were nothing like the counselors expected.

They were surprising. And adorable. I wish I could share them here but my daughter and I both have that gut feeling that it would cross over a line of violating these children’s privacy. So, I won’t.

Hearing about her experience has set me to thinking about special skills. If someone asked you, what would you say?

What’s your special skill?

Context matters, of course, and the above story bears that out. You will very likely tailor your response to the situation. As adults we have learned how to do that. You may able to whistle the piccolo solo from “Star and Stripes Forever” but you will probably not list that on a job application. So, let’s give the question some context: community.

When it comes to fostering, building, and sustaining community, what’s your special skill?

There’s often a natural crossover between things we love, things we do best, and things that we can do to foster community. For me it has meant combining a love of music and expertise in early childhood education and creating dance parties for young children and their families, first, at the Second Chance Saloon in Oakland Mills, now, at the Chrysalis at Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods. And what started in childhood as an intense love of creative writing is now manifested in a community blog.

When my older daughter was little I emphasized to her that everyone had an important contribution to make in our Episcopal church congregation. No matter whether it was big or small,

Everyone has a job in God’s holy church.

It’s true in the wider world as well. Everyone is a called to contribute. Everyone has a special skill. You may not think you do, but, you do. Don’t hide it. Share it. Someone out there needs what you have to offer.

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