Monday, May 04, 2015

Mystery Man


This is the time of year when if you are a school teacher, there is the possibility of something on the calendar every night as well as in the daytime. There are band and choir performances and this week, we have both our special senior and eighth grade chapels. Tomorrow night is the middle school athletic banquet so you get the picture. Throw in our annual coin collection for Christian orphanages in Haiti and Honduras, which I coordinate, plus finishing up the school year academically plus planning my summer mission to Vietnam and  you'll forgive me if my days run together. But it's the only life I know and I love it so no complaints. Well, I might need a little more sleep but graduation is in eighteen days and I'm off.....for seventy-three days and then it starts over again.

This past week, our WCS Fine Arts Department, which has really taken off in recent years, put on Arthur Miller's 1953 play, The Crucible, using the Salem witch trials as an allegory to McCarthyism. While I'm partial to the funny, musical type shows we've done, like Oklahoma! and Little Shop Of Horrors, it was easy to be pulled into the powerful tale of suspicion and lies and innuendo. All but two of the cast have been in my class as well as most of the student stage crew. It was breathtakingly professional for teenagers who are not professional and perform on stage while still leading normal school lives with all that entails. There were so many outstanding performances that I would be remiss to list them. Plus, I am no theater patron, although I was in a college drama production as a second grader. Another chapter, another time!

I was mystified by one character. A Judge Danforth appears about half way through, an investigator into the charges of witchcraft in the town. I think I recall him saying he had signed seventy-two death warrants for being in cahoots with the devil or words to that effect. What baffled me, though, was that I had no clue who was playing Judge Danforth. I know every student in our middle and high school; still, I could not figure out who was filling that role. I thought it might be Gavin, one of my juniors who I knew was involved in some way, but I realized Judge Danforth was taller than Gavin. I pulled out my program to check but the setting was too dark to read. I kept scratching my head for about ten minutes and then it came to me- Danforth was Harrison, the young man pictured at the top. I should have known. The day before, Harrison had asked me in the hall if I was coming but I just didn't make the connection. There are kids I expect to be in these plays because they usually are, but I think this was his first time on stage. I've known Harrison for five years and we are related, double cousins on my mom's roots. (My mom and his grandpa were from the same small town in Arkansas and we share DNA through both the Chesshir and McClure clans on my side.) And yet, I was slow, excruciatingly slow, to recognize him on Saturday night. 

As you may know, I am blessed to teach the Gospels at WCS to our juniors and the book of Luke to our 8th graders so I get to talk constantly about the transforming power of Jesus. One of my favorite stories is Jesus healing the blind man in John 9, a man who had lived as a beggar. After the miracle, a dispute broke out as to the identity of the guy. He can't be the same man; that fellow was blind! The unnamed recently retired beggar assured the crowd it WAS him and the agent of his healing was 'the man they call Jesus.' We know the religious leaders called in his mom and dad to verify that claim. In like manner, Harrison's mom, Phylis, did indeed vouch that the actor channeling Danforth was her younger of two sons. In my defense, Harrison was wearing a white wig and speaking in old English phrases but I still didn't get it right. Harrison was transformed for two and a half hours. In 2nd Corinthians 3:18, Paul speaks of being transformed into the image of the Lord. That is no overnight metamorphosis but it is possible when we turn our hearts to Him. Harrison didn't become Danforth instantly- it took time and effort and coaching from director Patricia Duran. Here is my best compliment for the soon to be graduate: when I looked at Harrison on stage, I only saw Danforth. There is a spiritual application in there somewhere. When people look at us, I pray they only see Jesus. And I pray we aren't just acting.

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