For the past four months, every Saturday morning Ellie and I have been at rehearsal. For the past two weeks, we have rehearsed, polished and fine tuned until we were singing our songs in our sleep. And this weekend, we performed in a musical called Savior of the World to commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as is accounted in the New Testament.
This has been such an amazing thing to be a part of. I have been in many casts in my life, but this one was so special, and I hope to be able to somehow capture here in words what I have experienced over the past several days.
As the curtain was ready to open on the first of our three performances, there was a strange and heavy silence over the whole stage. We had just come from the green room where we had shared in testimony, scripture and song to prepare our hearts for opening night. The jitters of wanting to do well coupled with the intensity of the opening scenes created a solemn stillness in us. As the first few scenes unfolded, which depicted events as they might have been as the family and friends of Jesus departed from the tomb and went to their homes grieving the shocking loss of their spiritual leader, we found ourselves weeping both onstage and off. I worried I would not be able to hold myself together.
Then, as in the scriptures, when to news of the risen Christ was spread, a cheer came to the cast members and an energy filled the stage that was palpable. But with that cheer and energy there was an amazing reverence. At one point I stepped into the green room and was amazed. Two dozen people in costumes sat in silence, some reading from the bible or from the book Jesus the Christ, others just listening to the strains of music that came through the wall. But it wasn't just the silence and reverence there that was notable, there was a spiritual presence that felt like being in the temple.
By our second performance for the Saturday matinee, the sweet and happy feeling we had been left with from our first show was there from the start. There was such a feeling of joy as we performed, and it carried us through a long day to the last performance that night. At one point as the angel choir sang, those of us in the cast stood in the wings singing too, adding our voices to the chorus. I wished then, that every person in the audience could be up there with us, feeling what we were. "John", a man named Jacob who I shared a very tender scene on stage with, smiled and reached over and squeezed my hand. There were many such moments. "Solome", the sister of Mary, had over these weeks and months become like a sister to me, and she stood near by, a gentle hand on my back. Often as members of the cast passed through the curtains exiting the stage, they were immediately received with a hug or a gentle touch to let them know how well they were doing. Sometimes as I stood there in the dark, a whisper of "good job, Mary" would come from close behind me. Other times the glow of the stage lights would illuminate the face of another cast member as we stood silently in the wings, and as our eyes met we would exchange smiles.
The shows went as shows do. There were the expected mistakes, a dropped line or a stammer here and there. But for a cast of amateurs, it was amazing. More than that, I had the opportunity to imagine what it might have been like to witness events that I have only read about my whole life. Seeing the relationships that grew over the course of our rehearsals helped me to imagine the personalities and relationships that exsisted between the followers of the Lord. They were his friends. They ate with him and laughed with him and loved him as friends and family do.
As this Easter Season is upon us, I am grateful for the sweet reminder of the gift that has been given us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is our friend. He loves us. He provided us an example and a path back to our first home. Just like the members of a cast in a play, we have stepped out onto a stage for the span of this life, and we will be here for a time, but all too soon the curtain will close on what we know here. We will return to the company of dear ones who have left us, and to a loving Lord who knows us so well. I imagine when we look back at this life from the context of eternity, this life will seem so short, our pains so brief, the reasons for our struggles and trials so clear.
It will be like a small play on a small stage.
Just before opening curtain
(Sweet Sharlene- "Solome", Milti-talented Erin -"Mary,
Mother of James" and Amazing Tara -"Mary Magdalene")
Mother of James" and Amazing Tara -"Mary Magdalene")
Gathering after the Sabbath
Mary Magdalene at the tomb
Dawn ("Joanna") researched all about our parts for us and helped us to understand the relationships our characters had as sisters-in -law. She also researched Jewish custom and helped us to have all the correct items to use as our props. We even had real spices and oils.
Did you know that angels use aps?
Two of the Marys
Most of our scenes were together, so Mary
and I enjoyed lots of little jokes about all of our hand holding.
In the upper room
Some of the Twelve
Teaching the multitudes
Little Angel Ellie gets so involved in the action below,
she almost comes down out of heaven to join the scene.
"Joshua" (Gordy) and "Rebecca" (Emma) made this scene so fun.
In the green room, all smiles dispite the heat of the costumes.