Sunday~22 blended with Monday 23 for a Belhaven/Kaelen conglomeration. Belhaven is how I met Kaelen who remains one of my best friends to this day. When I applied to Belhaven I specifically requested a certain dorm (which is not the one generally requested.) and specifically requested to room with a non-theatre major. And I got placed in Not The Requested dorm and with Kaelen, a definite theatre major. But two things told me it was okay. The first was that our room number was to be 413 which is my birthday so that felt like a good sign. The second was that Kaelen responded to my letter (it felt strange to 'get to know' your new roomie with a phone call) with a handwritten letter of her own. One from Masterworks which at that time I knew nothing about and now too has been a big part of my own life. (funny story from my a vault of Kaelen stories~ this same letter lay on my desk at Belhaven covered by a few things a couple of months into our semester. Kaelen saw the curlicues on the edges and started going on about how lovely they were and how very much she liked them and did I do that? and who did that? and they were just so very.....then she saw that she'd done them and stopped. And we had a good laugh over that one.)
Kaelen and I hit it off so instantly and well that people assumed we were long friends before Belhaven. There are about a billion stories from that time and from our lovely group of friends that I could write. And I could and should write about the Searles and how I met them serendipitously on the plane the first time I visited Belhaven and how kind they've been to me and how I lived in the house they had in Jackson. And I could write about that house, which we deemed "Tiffany's" only because we often had Breakfast At....
I still miss that house when I think of it. A bunch of us would get together there on Sundays and read children's books (yes. that's what we did.) and sing hymns, and laugh or watch movies or what have you. It was such a sweet time. And theatre, oh we did so much theatre. It was so rich to be in an environment of constant creating. And at Belhaven my faith grew as my theology shifted. And with Kaelen and Brandon and Brandon and Scott and Erin and Meg and Aunie and Bonnie and Alex (Bonnie and Alex! Love those two!) I learned the words to hymns I found I loved. And of all the lovely things and crazy things and funny things my friendship with Kae is filled with, there's something I most learned from her in the very beginning for which I'm very grateful. Kaelen changed my prayer life. At first it made me uncomfortable and maybe I thought she was a little crazy. I mean, I prayed often I thought, but this girl prayed out loud and fervently about just about anything. If I brought something up she'd just pray about it. Like right then and there. And then it felt less crazy and how I prayed shifted too. And I'm still grateful for that.
So much about being there was sweet and beautiful and showed evidence of God's provision. Even the first time I visited I was amazed by the fact that I didn't want to leave, that I felt somehow at home. At Belhaven both my craft as an actor and my walk as a Christ follower grew and it was a precious time.
And being at Belhaven led to the next, because Kaelen is how I learned of Masterworks which is where I'd go after my time in Jackson.