Playdates with God: Theater of Life


We were dressed all wrong in our best blue jeans and Sunday tops—two people clothed in love amidst crisp dinner jackets and sequined gowns that glittered in the dim light of the theater. I slunk down in my seat next to a younger woman in a blue pin-striped dress—we did not come to be seen, only to see.
But as I sunk into my seat she looked up. She saw me. And she smiled.
Just then, a little girl—maybe seven or eight—sat down in the seat on the other side of her, followed by two or three generations of women. The woman in the blue pin-stripes exclaimed over the girl’s pink-ribboned dress.
“Oh, you look so beautiful,” she said. And to the girl’s mother: “Has she seen the show before?”
“No,” the other woman smiled. “This is her first time.”
The woman next to me leaned down closer to the little girl.
“Oh, you are going to love it! This is the very first musical I saw when I was little and you know what? It’s still my favorite.”
The conversation quieted as the lights dimmed and I leaned into my husband as song soared. Soon we were caught up in story—lifted with each lilting note of music. When time for intermission came, my husband made a beeline for the restroom, but I stayed put under the twinkling lights. When I stood to stretch my legs, the woman in blue pin-stripes caught my eye.
“I can’t believe it’s only nine-thirty,” she said, smiling. “It feels like midnight!”
I smiled back and sat back down beside her.
“I know, I know. They say this is a sign of my rapidly advancing age—the way the night comes so quickly.”
She dimpled again.
“No, not at all! They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
“I think you’re right. There’s just something about the dimming of the lights and good story that just relaxes the soul.”
“A good story,” she mused. “Only Victor Hugo.”
“I heard you tell that little girl that this was the first musical you ever saw…that it’s still your favorite.”
She nodded.
“This is my Mother’s Day present to myself,” she said. “I’m a single mom. So on Mother’s Day I didn’t get to do anything special. So when I heard Les Mis was in town, I thought, I’m going! My favorite dress,” she gestured to the pin-stripes. “And my favorite musical. It doesn’t get much better.”
I told her that we were celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary, that Jeff wasn’t wild about coming but I was—and he wanted to be together. We talked about the different versions of the show we had seen. Jeff returned and she leaned across me to touch his arm.
“You are a good husband,” she said. Then she settled back into her seat. “My favorite song is next.”
“What’s your favorite?” I asked.
She looked at me as if I should already know the answer.
On My Own,” she whispered. And the lights dimmed again for the second act.
The rest of the show went quickly and I was aware of the joy sitting next to me. Before we left the theater I squeezed her hand.
“Enjoy the rest of your night out,” I said.
“I will,” she replied. “And happy anniversary.”
I’m still thinking about how a song can name us; how art makes us feel not so alone in this world. How an open eye for beauty can open the hearts around you.
And it makes me want to bring more beauty into life—to spill it out all over everyone I touch. And I can’t help thinking how love does this—clothes everything in beauty.
And I promise to love better. To see better.
Because, as Jean Valjean says, “…to love another person is to see the face of God.”
 Over at the High Calling we are on week three of a book discussion on The Life of the Body: Physical Well-being and Spiritual Formation by Valerie E. Hess and Lane M. Arnold. Will you join us? Today we’re giving away two copies of the book. It’s a great book about how the choices we make for our bodies impact our spiritual life. 

How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

the Playdates button:
 

Comments

  1. Nancy Sturm says

    Oh how I love music theater. Le Mis has to be one of the best ever–I cry every time I see it! Often, I believe, music enables us to catch a glimpse of God. Thanks for taking me to that special place with this beautiful post.

  2. says

    What a beautiful story, Laura. I, too, believe music can transport us and give us a tiny glimpse of the heavenlies. Why else does the Bible talk so much about singing? Thanks for sharing this post.

  3. says

    Oh, happy anniversary, friend! May God make the years ahead your best yet! Love the quote you shared and this line-“And I can’t help thinking how love does this—clothes everything in beauty.”

  4. says

    Wonderful choice for your anniversary celebration, Laura! And such a loving hubby to go when it’s not his favorite thing. 🙂 You do so well what God puts on your heart each week to do–“spill out beauty” on all of us. Love your beautiful place, my sweet friend!

  5. says

    I still remember the 1st time I saw that musical. I cried and cried. It’s the Gospel right there on stage. So amazing! — I was not able to go see the movie when it came out last year, but I purchased the DVD, and I am waiting for a nice evening when I have the house to myself to sit down and watch it.

  6. says

    Happy Anniversary Laura! I love that you chose Les Miserables for your celebration…
    I so appreciate the way a shared valuing of something beautiful can draw hearts close. A friend bought me the book for my birthday in January…I haven’t read it since high school…I’d forgotten just how powerful Hugo’s words are.
    First time I saw the musical, I was on my own, living in the UK, and there was something about sitting in that theater by myself…

  7. says

    Oh, Laura. This is wonderful. Although I have not seen Les Miserables, I recently read the 1452 page book and loved it, loved it. I was brought up with a Mom who absolutely loved musicals and took us, three girls, to see any and all she could find. It was wonderful for I hold those memories even today. Living in San Diego, CA when I was in high school and college, Mom would take us to the Starlight Opera which was an outdooor theatre with not just operas, but “Music Man” and “Carousel”, and oh, so many others. Then we had a theatre in the round called Carousel Theater. Thanks for sharing this special anniversary moment for you bring sweet memories of Mom to me through it. Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  8. says

    Linda, what a sweet growing up experience this must have been! I did not have many opportunities to attend the theater as a child so in many ways the beauty of it all is still new to me. I want my boys to experience the magic of story this way too. Thanks for sharing this part of your story with me.

  9. says

    I think my young friend was feeling so very brave as she sat alone in that theater. There is something so liberating about going it alone. But I couldn’t help wondering how many times being alone was cause for struggle and sadness for her. And how that song must strengthen her and lend a little piece of God to her heart. So amazing how beauty does that.

  10. says

    Oh, Beth, you are always so kind. I’m glad you have found beauty here. It really is where I find God most–between these words and with all of you, my friends.

  11. says

    We saw that musical live in my high school years, and it’s my dad’s favorite, or tied with “Man of La Mancha.” Allen’s first encounter with it was the film version. (Musicals aren’t his favorite either.)

    This year I finally listened through the entire book (Julie Rose translation on Audible.com), and I found it much more moving even than the musical. The final chapters absolutely broke my heart. What struck me most is that Jean Valjean is a character who wrestles with God and with his fallen flesh as much as any character I’ve ever encountered. That love story, rather than Marius and Cosette’s, is at the heart of the book.

    So glad you had a lovely anniversary celebration! May that young lady sitting next to you come to know the truest Lover of her soul, if she doesn’t already. A blessed week to you, friend.

  12. says

    Oh, Laura. “On My Own” has always been my favorite song from “Les Mis,” since I first saw it in 1989. I took my husband in ’91, and he didn’t get it. Maybe he hadn’t suffered enough. He watched the PBS songs-only version this spring and absolutely fell in love with it. Now he owns it on his Kindle and cues it up when he’s alone in the office on Fridays.

  13. Shelly Miller says

    Oh me too Laura, I want to bring more beauty into the world. There is something about sitting in a theater and watching artists offer their art to the world that inspires me toward that too. You surely know how to weave a good story. Loved this.

  14. Mia says

    Dear Laura
    The one song that will always speak to my heart is a song of Josh Groban; Don’t Give Up For You Are Loved. This song has been such an encouragement to me through hard times!
    Blessings
    Mia

  15. Linda Chontos says

    I think you already have a gift for seeing and bringing beauty into life. I love that in you Laura. The beauty just spills out of you.

  16. kingfisher says

    I re-submitted my link because the first one didn’t work right.

    What an enchanting door in the pic, Laura! And I’m so glad you were enchanted on your anniversary by getting to do something you knew you would love. Yes, you do have a good husband.

    I’m glad you’re extrovert enough to be willing to reach out to strangers. I’m much more apt to just sit in silence and act like I didn’t notice other people — not an admirable trait, I know, but I’m easily tongue-tied.

    Have a wonderful, beauty-spotting rest of the week!

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