Our SPECTACULAR SPECTACULAR and very magical Advent Pageant was last night. Let me tell you about it.
We had lots of kids. Contrary to some nay sayers we have A LOT of kids at St. John’s, and they come out of the woodwork for things like this. The TALENT in that room was amazing. We had cellists, flutists, pianists, a bassoonist, singers… all kids. KIDS. And then they learned lines. And then they put on costumes. And then they let Leslie and I
yell at coach them through chaotic rehearsals.
And then, last night, they just SHONE.
My brother put it best, he said that the kids are teaching us the mysteries of God made flesh. “And teach us they will,” he said, “for our Lord tells us it is they who understand the kingdom.”
Do they understand what an immaculate conception is? Probably not.
Do they understand, really and fully, the gift that we were given that night in Bethlehem? I think they do. I think they understand it better than we do, because they can’t see it through the oft times skewed and biased and tired eyes that we have. The see it freshly, immediately clear. They are able to be present in those mysteries, because to the children, they are not mysteries, but clear cut ideas. As my Ave said, Mary had God’s baby. Well. Yes. That sums it up neatly, doesn’t it? I think that to believers in Santa Claus and all things magical the idea of a host of angels in the sky is one that is transfixing, not one that is vexing as we try to reconcile it to what we think may be true or even possible. There are no limits for belief in our children.
And so they shone, and brightly. There were some nerves (I live with one of actresses, she was a big bad bundle of nerves), we had to kick the cellists out of the hall to warm up. The cacophony of strings overlaying the chatter of conversation and the rush of we are down the wire time to go! directions was too much. Satan got a headache right before the curtain opened. Satan should take note of how loud a host of angels and a herd of animals can be in one brick walled room. Piano music got flipped around and a duet sort of interrupted.
But you know what? It’s fine. So, so fine. Because the people came and the people learned what they needed to learn, and just maybe we were able re-awaken a sense of magic in those adults, shifting on their uncomfortable folding chairs, wincing as one particular animal shouted into the microphone. Maybe we were able to take their minds off their constantly running to do lists and to fill their senses with the sounds of angels playing piano and God and Satan discussing the fate of mankind in God’s office where a picture of Fr. Cramer hangs over the mantel and the clock is upside down (because God’s time is different than our own). I think we transcended reality, just for a little while.
I have these images in my mind that I keep flipping through. John at the piano and a little girl dressed as an angel singing next to him, O come, O come Emmanuel. I hear her voice shake a little, it’s a lot of people in that room, all listening to her. I see the cellos on the backs of two girls who played for us, see them walking away from me and into the hall to open those instrument cases, to tune them and to be ready. I see the Angel Gabriel sitting in the half light at the piano and I can hear John telling her at our last rehearsal how much he liked her intro, soothing and complimentary words.
When was the last time you got up in front of a lot of people and sang a song? Or played an instrument? Acted in a play? It takes guts, folks, to do that. To screw up and to keep going anyway. So in a way, we had the pleasure of teaching the kids too. About dedication, commitment to something larger than oneself, the camaraderie that always forms between cast members. About being brave and doing it anyway. About how as the final round of applause peters out you get this sinking feeling, and you realize that what you’ve worked so hard for is over.
I forgot to light the candle on our wreath last night, to say the words for Advent 2. I comforted myself with the thought of all those glowing faces, radiant in the mysteries they were teaching us to accept and embrace. Of the way the lights outside on the trees pushed softly through the windows, of our light up “random” Menorah. I thought of the hope that was kindled again inside of me last night, as I watched our children present to us an exhortation to wait. To prepare. To make ready. And I thought of the words in a song I sang with a dear, dear friend, ♫ Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head;”To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said.“My soul shall laud and magnify God’s holy name. ♫ And I figured it would probably be ok if I lit Advent 2 along with Advent 3 next Sunday.
Are you falling in love? Are you believing? Are you seeing angels in the night sky, winging their merry way to Bethlehem? Go outside tonight, when it’s quiet and the moon has risen from her bed and is shining benevolently upon you.
Listen. Do you hear the angels singing? I do.