So, this Priest Walks into a Theater… (by Yana Kesala)
As Shane would say, “Holy kites.” I can’t believe my Canadian tour is over. This journey, the planning and realization of which saved me from the chaos that was raining on my life, has reached its conclusion.
I’m having one of those typical 20-something moments (although whenever I mention it to someone older than me, they say it happens pretty much your entire life–AWESOME) where I’m standing at a fork in the road. Except it’s one of those really fancy forks with lots of tongs. Do I keep acting and producing my own work? Do I go back to school and pursue a Master’s in Psychology, or maybe even Creative Writing? Do I expand this play into a film–or a novel? Do I apply for a Fulbright to Ukraine to study my ancestry? All of the above?
I had the craziest experience yesterday hanging out with a priest. His name is Walter Klimchuk and he baptized me in Chicago 28 years ago. He was the head priest of the church I grew up going to and he’s originally from Winnipeg. Fr. Walter moved back home when his mother got sick. He heard about my show from my parents and other Chicago friends and he came to see it. He found me afterwards and invited me to come take a tour of Winnipeg with him.
It was a beautiful day, my favorite part of which was the lovely conversation we shared about spirituality, the power of crystals, and the importance of finding your soul purpose in life. Fr. Walter is unlike any priest I’ve ever met. He said that he believes real miracles happen when you create an environment of positivity and that he strives to create that environment with his parish and in all his encounters.
I expressed to him my nervousness to return to Seattle and be faced with the decision of which path to take, especially since it had seemed so clear before I left. The plan was to do the tour, then go back to school and become a drama therapist. But it’s hard to go back to that plan after performing my show 16 times and realizing, deep in my bones, that telling stories is my calling.
I got asked on 3 separate occasions in Winnipeg if Yana Kesala is my real name. I was really confused at first because, if anywhere, it should be in Ukrainian-rich Winnipeg that people understand my name. But then it dawned on me–when you pronounce my name as written in English, it kinda sounds like the Ukrainian phrase, “I didn’t tell.” In the Cyrillic alphabet this wouldn’t be the case, but all of my publicity materials are in English. I got a little peeved at this–I mean, what storytelling performer would choose a stage name implying that they don’t?
But looking at my name again, it could also be “Yana told.” Perhaps the direction I’m supposed to take is plainly written on my notepad, my email address, my driver’s license. Yana is supposed to tell–and perhaps the miracle of this discovery was only realized in the positive tour environment that I’ve been steeped in for 8 weeks.
Plus, Fr. Walter told me that he sees me in Hollywood. And when a Catholic priest who calls out the rose quartz on your necklace as the love stone and expresses his desire to return to Sedona for more singing bowls tells you he’s had an insight about your future, you listen.
I’m never going to get to “Yana told” tomorrow if Yana doesn’t tell today. So here goes.
July 31st, 2012.