Chuckling loudly, Bishop Desmond Tutu announced on an NPR interview: “Ours is a God of Surprises!”
When I started writing what eventually turned into the play FALLING, I wasn’t planning on writing a play. Maybe a non-fiction piece on parenting a teen with severe autism. Maybe a poem exploring my grief/joy as my older son moved away to college.
But the words just wouldn’t cooperate. Kept turning into scenes. Scary truths started spilling out on the pages, turning aspects of my reality into fictional honesty.
And I had to decide – would I surrender to the process? Would I take the chance of exposing myself, my family, my theatre company, to potential ridicule? Could I go to the deep places where fear and faith do battle? Could I really tell the truth?
Challenged by a colleague who said, “Just write and see what happens,” I wrote some more about what I sometimes jokingly refer to as “Extreme Parenting” (A Fabulous New Sport Coming to an Arena Near You!). I didn’t think that this story would be very interesting to anyone not raising a teenage son struggling with autism, but I wrote anyway.
I hired an amazing director and cast of actors. We worked, I rewrote, we argued, I rewrote – and then it opened. And then it sold out. We extended the run, twice, and still it sold out. And then it was optioned for a production Off-Broadway – which is now scheduled to open October 15th at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
And I realized that this isn’t a story about Autism. It’s a story about loving someone who is hard to love.
And we all have that in our lives, our families. (Just realized – God kind of models that sort of love - for us. Hmmmm.)
So I’m off on this adventure to New York – starting in September I’ll be there for rehearsals with the same Director and a great new cast. I feel a little like the pioneer women in the show I’m currently directing, who have to face down the wolves; except my wolves are the fear factory in my head telling me that I’m going to let down all the investors, friends and family who believe in the show. Or, perhaps worse, that I’m going to be successful and turn into something self-centered and false.
And God chuckles, I’m sure. When I flew out to Manhattan to participate in auditions for the show, I sat in the rooftop terrace of my hotel, reviewing plans for the following day. Something pulled my attention from my papers – a movement above me – and I watched in amazement as a single white feather casually fell on my table. I was sitting under a large canopy. There were no birds around, and no other feathers to be seen anywhere.
Those of you who have seen Falling will understand the significance of that symbol. For those of you who haven’t seen it, you’ll have to trust that it was a confirmation of God’s grace.