Friday, July 31, 2009
The audience loved Sam and Sam loved the audience. I never had any idea what he was going to do when he was on stage but I knew whatever it was, the audience was going to get a kick out of it. No matter how many times I said, "Sam, do not stop in the middle of the show and wave to the audience," he'd do it. And that was eventually okay with me. He started this thing where the first time he goes to see the Wizard and the Wizard tells him to step forward he'd step up and scream like a girl. I have no idea where it came from or what gave him the thought to do it, but I think it got more laughs than anything else in the show.
And quite possibly my favorite story, which I didn't even know about until days after the show is this...
Our yellow brick road was a ramp that came out from the stage and went into the audience. One night during the performance, I remember hearing the four main characters head out on it singing, "We're Off to See the Wizard," then I heard some kind of noise, Sam yelled something, and the audience cracked up. We had already blacked out and I had no idea what had happened or what Sam said, and no one else back stage seemed to have heard him either. So, I just went on about what we were doing and didn't think anything else of it. A few days later, I found out that the Tinman had tripped on the yellow brick road, fallen forward and landed on the Scarecrow and Dorothy, creating a nice little pile that Sam then tripped and fell into. So, we had a little Wizard of Oz wipeout right there on the yellow brick road. What I didn't know is that Sam's parents had apparently gotten on him a little bit about being too silly during the show and told him to reel it in a bit. I guess because of that he was a little nervous when all four of them piled on top of each other on the yellow brick road because he yelled, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?" at the other three and stomped off.
i love that kid.
1. It's overwhelming. There so much I could write. So many stories I could tell.
2. I haven't quite processed through most of it in a way that I could write about it well.
3. I'm afraid of not doing any of it justice.
4. I miss it too much...which is why I should have been writing as I went.
But I don't want to let it get far enough away that I forget anything either. So here we go, I'll do what I can.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Your love, insofar as it is from God, is permanent. You can claim the permanence of your love as a gift from God. And you can give that permanent love to others. When others stop loving you, you do not have to stop loving them. On a human level, changes might be necessary, but on the level of the divine, you can remain faithful to your love.
One day you will be free to give gratuitous love, a love that does not ask for anything in return. One day also you will be free to receive gratuitous love. Often love is offered to you, but you do not recognize it. You discard it because you are fixed on receiving it from the same person to whom you gave it.
The great paradox of love is that precisely when you have claimed yourself as God's beloved child, have set boundaries to your love, and thus contained your needs, you begin to grow into the freedom to give gratuitously.
~The Inner Voice of Love
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
It comes in a way that is crystal clear, convicting and speaking to your shortcomings, but merciful so that you can humbly receive it and let it ultimately bring you peace.
I was especially thankful for it today...
Give Your Agenda to God
"You are very concerned with making the right choices about your work. You have so many options that you are constantly overwhelmed by the question 'What should I do and what should I not do?' You are asked to respond to many concrete needs. There are people to visit, people to receive, people to simply be with. There are issues that beg for attention, books it seems important to read, and works of art to be seen. But what of all this truly deserves your time?
Start by not allowing these people and issues to possess you. As long as you think that you need them to be yourself, you are not really free. Much of their urgency comes from your own need to be accepted and affirmed. You have to keep going back to the source: God's love for you.
In many ways, you still want to set your own agenda. You act as if you have to choose among many things, which all seem equally important. But you have not fully surrendered yourself to God's guidance. You keep fighting with God over who is in control.
Try to give your agenda to God. Keep saying, 'Your will be done, not mine.' Give every part of your heart and your time to God and let God tell you what to do, where to go, when and how to respond. God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God's will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety in God's love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God's name.
It is not easy to give your agenda to God. But the more you do so, the more 'clock time' becomes 'God's time,' and God's time is always the fullness of time."
The Inner Voice of Love
~Henri J. M. Nouwen
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
God did clearly ask Abraham to do what he was on his way to do. Genesis 22:2 says, "He (God) said, 'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." This was a very clear instruction from the Lord, who acknowledged in that moment how much Abraham loved his only son. But Abraham clearly had an understanding that children belong to the Lord. They are a gift for a time, but ultimately still belong to Him. Confusing as the request may have been, and without any explanation, he headed up the mountain.
But here's where this story catches me. God stopped him. Abraham went to do just as he was clearly told and God stopped him. An angel appeared to Abraham just as he raised his arm, knife in hand, and urgently told him to stop what he was doing. It was a blatant, clear encounter. Abraham didn't have to question or wonder if he was just having an internal emotional struggle or some major discernment issues. God just stopped him.
After that, we find out that what God was calling Abraham to was simply a test of faith. It served no other purpose. It was a test to see what lengths Abraham would go to remain obedient.
I'll just be honest...I usually need more purpose than that. I need some greater outcome than to simply prove to God that I will remain faithful to His call. And maybe it's that I need a more blatant confirmation that God is pleased with what I've done if things didn't turn out the way I had anticipated. Because here's the thing, when God asks me to do something, and I am confident about that, I can be extremely single-minded in my pursuit of that. I will go great lengths to stay on that path which can land my heart in a place of legalism and self-righteousness, a place I don't need to be. If He turns my feet another direction mid-journey, a lot of things can happen. I end up not trusting the original call, convinced that I didn't do something right the first time. I end up ignoring His call to turn a different direction. I get stuck in frustration with Him, saying, "You told me to do this and that's what I'm going to do," but when it gets to that point it's because I have something to prove, either to myself, or to the people around me, or to Him.
But what would happen if I learned to gracefully follow His leading with every twist and every turn, every moment seeking direction. What if I were like Abraham and allowed myself to be stopped sometimes. What if I didn't care what anyone else said or thought, and was willing to say that simply to prove my obedience is worth it. So often I set out on the path that God puts me on and the expectation of my destination is shattered. So often I end up worrying that I think God is calling me to something, but He's not really. I'm just confused.
But here's the thing. If I head out in some direction, whether God tells me to or not, and He needs me to go a different direction, He will stop me. In big ways if need be. I don't have to rely on myself to figure that out, just like Abraham didn't have to rely on himself. He will put His mighty foot down and keep me from going any further.
And when I do hear His call my job is to go, knowing that my destination is in His hands and it may not look like what I think it does. And when those expectations fall apart, I will shift paths, regardless of how I feel or how I perceive others feel, because I can be confident the Holy Spirit inside of me.
This will be my prayer for a time. That I will stop merely seeking the call for a destination but that just for awhile, I won't look any further ahead than as far as my next footstep will take me.
There's a moment from the past that I've never forgotten and to this day remains one of my all time favorite memories in life. I was directing "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" for Summer Theatre Workshop. We had an extremely talented group of kids, an awesome set, precious costumes and a pretty darn good show on our hands. But for some reason we hit a point of unbelievable stress. We were exhausted and frustrated and generally hopeless. I honestly have no idea how we got there. I really don't. I went home in tears many days and didn't handle the kids the way I should have during rehearsals.
As opening night moved painfully close I would sit and watch rehearsals and see nothing but mistakes and things that weren't done. During one of our dress rehearsals, I think it was the Wednesday before our show opened on Friday, I sat in the front row and was just toast. I had scolded the kids over and over again about silly things, but especially about coming down into the audience rather than staying backstage. I constantly told them that the audience cannot at any point see you in costume, especially not during the show. I couldn't figure out why they didn't seem to understand that. I was honestly convinced the show was falling apart before our eyes. My dear friend and costumer Mrs. Schrader plopped down next to me. Her daughter Jordan was playing Sally Brown and to this day remains in my mind one of the riskiest, yet smartest, casting decisions I'd ever made. It was a huge part for a tiny little person. But Jordan was Sally in real life. If she didn't learn her lines, but could respond as Jordan would, we'd still be okay.
As Mrs. Schrader and I sat watching the show, mistake after mistake, I neared tears. All of a sudden, Jordan runs down from backstage into the audience in her little pink polka dot dress, bouncy curls, and mary jane shoes. Just as she flew by me, I snapped. I said, "Jordan what on EARTH are you doing. How many times have I told you that you CANNOT come into the audience during the show!?" (Yes, I had total disregard for the fact that her mom was sitting next to me.) She stopped, turned around, said, "I forgot my jump rope on the other side of the stage," giggled in her little Jordan way, turned around and kept running to the other side.
And then I laughed so hard I cried.
I don't know why that broke me. But that was my first lesson in laughing when it's funny. Because it was. She totally didn't care that I was frustrated. Totally didn't care that she was doing something "wrong." She was a sweet little girl who had never been on stage before and was learning. I think she was actually proud of herself for realizing that she forgot her jump rope before she actually needed it rather than the moment she was supposed to enter with it. She thought she was doing a good thing. And really, she was.
On opening night, I had a little bear that I kept around for good luck. I named it the Jordan bear because she loved it. Just as the cast was circling up backstage to pray, Jordan said, "Oh no! I left the bear out in the audience. I need to give it a hug!" Rather than going to get it myself, I looked at my little Sally who was fully in costume and said, "Go get it. Quick." And she took off in her pink dress and bouncy curls.
That was a summer of learning for me and I've noticed this summer that there are so many days when I don't have time to laugh, but I do it anyway. I'm learning to take time for those moments. I was reminded of it the other day when the kids were off the wall and having fits of uncontrollable laughter. Just as I had gotten them focused again and back into the scene, the scarecrow said one of her lines in some goofy voice, and all the kids started cracking up again. I felt the frustration boiling and I said, "Carina...come on," she looked at me and said, "Miss Jen. My line is funny. And laughter is contagious ya know," and then fell on the floor laughing.
And I laughed too. Because she's absolutely right.
Now when things are funny, I just let them laugh. And more importantly, I let myself laugh.