Monday, January 17, 2011

Broadway All Around Us

The other evening, I ran across the street to the Co-Op, the little grocery store where we get those last-minute-whoops-we're-almost-out-of-baby wipes-apples-or-coffee supplies. A man named Ian with a kind face and a longish gray beard was at the register. This time, I happened to be buying some Calpol for Tyler (essentially the equivalent of Children's Tylenol in the states).

Ian and I chatted about when his daughters were young--now 23 and 25--and he used to give them Calpol when they were sick. I asked him if the time went by fast--going from two years old to 23 and 25.

"Faster than you can imagine," he told me, with a small smile and a wink. As he moved on to the next customer, I found myself thinking this as I walked out of the store: Ian is so...well, he's so Ian. He has an uncanny Ian-ness about him that no one else could possible show.

I'm not sure why my mind started thinking this, but then it started saying: No one could ever act the part of Ian better than Ian himself could. He plays his role perfectly--better than any Broadway actor could perfect it.

As the evening closed, and the next day opened, I found myself still thinking those same kinds of things--though not about Ian only. When Tyler and I passed a lady walking her dog--as we sought out dog poopies to look at and say, Whoa! More dog poopies!--I found myself thinking: That lady, too, plays her part perfectly--better than any Broadway actress could perform her role.

And on and on.

Granted: I have a lot of time to think during the day while Tyler and I gallop around the Fulford area of York, searching out dog poopies, building Gruffalo-Snow-Men, hugging Lightning trees, and jumping around like we're kids. (Well, technically, he is a kid. I consider myself an honorary kid. Maybe one day, universities will hand out "Honorary Kidships" the way they hand out Honorary Doctorates. If so, throw me on that list, Home Slice!)

So, some of this "thinking time" has been devoted, lately, to recognizing that it's kind of like there's this Broadway show happening all around us. And every day, we get this chance to see actors and actresses playing their parts perfectly--to an utmost precision that even the best performers can never quite muster.

These people aren't winning Academy Awards for their work, and they're not receiving rave theater reviews in the New York Times, but nonetheless, they're perfecting their roles--speaking their lines and communicating their movements with grace and hope and fear and anger and joy and love, all the same.

How will your life--how will my life--interact with these other Broadway stars today? What lines will we recite? In what scenes will we find ourselves?

When we walk into the grocery stores and down the sidewalks of our lives, even though no audience leans in to hear our words, may they still be laced with all the passion, verve, and hope which imbues the lines of our greatest performers.

And may we keep learning to be more, well, more us than ever before. After all, isn't that what the Great Director of our stage asks of us in Micah 6:8?: "Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." By playing the Broadway roles we've been given--however humble, however loud, however soft, however fearful we are--we give to the world a part (yes, albeit a small part) that no other human being could ever play. No matter how talented they are.

The part is yours, and yours alone. Play it with everything you've got.