I am sad to miss church today. I love my church family. Our ward boundaries were reconfigured a little over a year ago, and now I am settling into Sunday worship with these people who are becoming more and more my spiritual brothers and sisters. Today is Fast Sunday back home, when the congregation will share testimony and sweet experiences and struggles. These testimonies let us inside one another's hearts; they bind us together, and I am sorry to be away.
In fact, I will worship with these dear friends only one time this month. Last week we worshipped at home, viewing General Conference via the internet. Today I am in Salt Lake, and in two weeks--Easter Sunday--Mark and I will be in the car, driving home from another trip to Provo for son-in-law Bryan's graduation from BYU. That will mark the end of an era, our last child to graduate from BYU. We have been making trips to Provo via auto and airplane several times a year since 1996, when Angela enrolled at BYU.
The second wonderful highlight: I went with a large contingent of family and friends to see Anna's play, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) last night. The play opens with the premise that Jesus, if he were to show up at our homes, would be a genial and down-to-earth guest, lending a hand and participating with us in the activities we enjoy. In the play, Jesus helps wash dishes, goes skateboarding with TJ, plays miniature golf with the roommates. He is a kind, helpful, friendly savior.
Anna's wry humor comes through beautifully in the script, which is by no means irreverent. I think the laughter in the audience happens because we recognize the humor in ourselves--the inherent comedy of our human lives--as we watch the story unfold.
As the play progresses, tensions in the characters' lives come to the surface. Can Jesus fix things? Will he? Should he? The plot turns to the frustrations the characters experience as they address the ways their expectations of Jesus don't always align with their experience of him. Ultimately, it is his gentle and generous ways, which bring the characters to understand how they can reach out to others and help them heal--to truly be Christlike, as in being like Christ--that bring the play to it's conclusion.
I found the play to be thoughtful and thought-provoking. The actors brought Anna's script to life. I had read the script on the page ahead of time, but it was fascinating to watch it unfold in 3-D. One of the features of the script is that Jesus doesn't speak. He uses facial expression and hand gestures to communicate, and it really worked. I had wondered ahead of time if it would.
This small theater company specializes in producing new plays, so after the final applause, the actors seated themselves on the stage for a "talk back" session, in which questions and comments from the audience are welcomed. Since Anna was in the audience, she was invited to join the actors. Of course I didn't take photos during the play, but here are a few photos I snapped during the talk back session.
Homeless Guy, Anna, Jesus
The little girl on the Homeless Guy's lap might have been his daughter.
She came up to sit with him after the play, during the "talk back" session.
Anna, Jesus, Tom, Max (girl named Max), theater company manager (standing).
Seth, TJ, Stephanie
By this time, later in the Talk Back, the little girl had moved to his lap.
So maybe she was his daughter? Not sure.
Anna, the play's director, the theater company manager.
The set in the black box theater.
And here are a couple of photos from the "author's party" Bryan's mom hosted for Anna prior to the play. I hope these photos will help satisfy Bridget's desire to know how the play went. Bridget and Anna were roommates back in their BYU days, and I enjoy following Bridget's blog.
Anna and college friends:
Jacob, Shelley, Jancy, Anna, Becky
Another shot of college friends:
Jacob, Shelley, Becky, Jancy
Now we're about to board the plane. I'm anxious to be home again. When I talked with Mark yesterday, he said he is feeling much better. The shingles seem to have "turned a corner," he says, which is a relief to both of us. It appears that he may be coming away with a fairly mild case, for which we are both very grateful.
PS - Now that you've seen some of the actors in WWJD, if you are curious to read the script, you can find it here. Along with the script of the play itself, I think Anna's reflection that follows the script, on what the play means to her--part of the thesis process for her M.F.A. degree--is fascinating to me as a writer and uplifting to me as a person who seeks to know Jesus better in my own life.