My parents decided that they would spend special time with my sister and I separately.
My Dad and I climbed into the car and drove to Providence to LaSalle Academy.
Time with my father was always precious and after my prents divorced it became more valuable in my head. There was work for him and always another child on the way and his time became split into smaller and smaller shards. Those memories I have of just my father and I are unique. Some of my siblings dont have memories like that.
When we arrived at the theater, it was like visiting a new world. I was young, old enough to appreciate a play but just barely. The neatly organized rows of chairs, the stage, people chatting and rustling in the pre-show gloom.
In my memory, Dad and I found our seats on the left side of the auditorium. We were seated just one seat away from the aisle. When the lights went dark, another vista magically opened. Actors, lights, curtains, set all became a place I could lose myself.
Godspell is a play based on the Gospel of Matthew, kind of the hippy version of it. The first scene of is Jesus declaring “My name is Known: God and King. I am most in majesty, in whom no beginning may be and no end.” Then different philosophers begin to speak about their beliefs until it creates a cacophony of sound until John the Baptist breaks through the noise by blowing a horn.
This company had decided to add an edge to their performance by having the philosophers scattered in the audience. When the scene began, the actor sitting next to me stood on his chair and began to speak.
I was dumbfounded, shocked, enthralled.
I still have this reaction when I go to plays or movies today. I wrap myself in the story and the characters and become part of their world. It is sometimes hard for me to leave a performance and immediately reenter the real world. When I saw Platoon, which is about a massacre during the Vietnam war, my friends had to take me to the beach for a couple of hours because I have profoundly moved by the experience.
I still know all of the words to the songs in Godspell.
My love of this play was so deep that when, in seventh grade, the nun teaching our class suggested that Godspell was heresy, I was shocked to my core. I couldn’d understnd how anyone could see it and not have a spirtiual experiecnce. My concept of Jesus is, at least in part, based on it.
The emotional connection to my father was the result of the content of the play, the alone time with him and his own love of the play. It is one of the few times I can remember being completely alone with him. It was time for me and only for me. It was father and son time.
“And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, son?” “I don’t know when”
But we’ll get together then, dad
We’re gonna have a good time then”
Fathers and sons…
The tremulous, indestructible lines that tie and bind us together are based on moments like this God’s spell in a hushed theater.
Moments that shape the men we become, the men we are.