godspell, again, still, more – part four

When your trust is all but shattered
When your faith is all but killed
You can give up, bitter and battered
Or you can slowly start to build

Lyrics, Beautiful City, Godspell

I couldn’t get Noe out of my head. Suddenly the night had an entirely different meaning.

As the actors took their places on stage, Brooke squealed and kicked and rocked in her seat. As they began to sing, she watched, rapt. I vacillated between watching her and watching them. Either way, I couldn’t stop grinning. She was so happy to be there. And here’s the thing – they were too.

I don’t know how to do that part of this justice – just how happy the actors and dancers and every single one of the fifty-seven people on that stage clearly were to be there. Their joy was palpable. I felt like I could reach out and grab it, hold it, bounce it through the theater like a beach ball at a rock concert.

You can act happy. If you’re really good, it will be believable. But you can’t fake the creation of joy. Ether you create it or you don’t. They did.

Then again, perhaps joy is like energy, neither capable of being created nor destroyed but rather can only be moved, transformed, harnessed, shared.


{image is a photo of the full cast on stage}

I don’t know how to say this next part. The cast was – well, real. You know that scene in the beginning of the Godspell movie when Gilmer goes to an audition and finds a long row of young women who look exactly like her? No? You mean you don’t have a kid who has watched Godspell every day for the last seven years straight? Hmm, okay then. Just trust me on a long row of young actresses all with long blond, perfectly straight seventies hair and crocheted beanie hats all looking EXACTLY the same.

This wasn’t them. These weren’t polished, homogenized head shots on legs. These were people. Old and young and thin and fat and gloriously, divinely REAL. They exploded their joy out into the audience and we, in turn, radiated it back to them.



{image is a photo of a musical number – in the foreground we see three women holding hands above their heads while singing. They are smiling as they sing.}

Brooke couldn’t have been happier. She squealed and sang and rocked and flapped and squealed some more. She gave thumbs ups to the actors as they sang. One gave one back to her when she sang along and her voice rang out above the crowd, strong and clear and unfathomably sweet as she sang, “We beseech thee,” and the entire cast answered, “Hear us!”

She was in all her glory and bathed in all of theirs. This thing – this beautiful, incredible, awesome, divine, tangible THING was a wonder to behold.

Lesson six.

Joy shared is joy multiplied.

Just before intermission, the cast tossed rubber bracelets into the audience. Brooke raised her arms, eager to catch one. I spotted one on the floor in front of us and pointed her to it. Just as she slipped it on her wrist, Arthur caught a second one and handed it to me. I smiled my thanks and put it on.

Intermission wasn’t easy. Brooke didn’t need a break; she needed more Godspell. She couldn’t wait for Mary Magdalene (as she calls the character in the play) to sing Turn Back, O Man. She sat on the edge of the stage and asked again and again (and again) when the actors would return.

Finally, it was time. The lights went down and the song began and Brooke squealed with delight. And then it happened – the actress, who EVERY single time I’ve seen the play picks a man out of the audience to flirt with, turned to Brooke. “Hey, Miss,” she said, mid-song, “how’s your seat?”

Not one to leave a question unanswered, Brooke said, “Not bad!”

The actress, still in full vamp, turned to the audience, “Did ya hear her? She said, ‘Not bad.'”

Brooke’s face lit up as shouted, “Sheeee is meeeee!”

She turned to me. “Did you remember that?” she asked, “She said that she said not bad and SHE is ME!”

Her night, as if it weren’t already, was made. There was not a single other interaction with the audience. Not one.

Lesson seven.

Things will happen as they’re supposed to.

At the end of the play, for the first time ever, Brooke began to cry when Jesus died. Tears streamed down her face as they carried him from the stage. I offered her my arm and dried her tears on my sleeve as they fell. I held her close and kissed her sweet, warm head. She cried all the way into the car and on the way home.

“Do you know why I’m crying?” she asked, as she does whenever she’s upset.

“Why, baby?” I asked.

“Because Jesus died,” she said. “Like when Ooma died and you cried, and Katie cried, and cousin M cried and everybody cried. Do you remember? when Ooma died and everyone was crying?”

I told her that I did.

“I want her back,” she said.

I told her that I understood. That it’s hard to lose people we love. That I want her back too.

When we got home, I tucked her into bed, curling my body around hers for a few minutes before I could bring myself to leave.

“Thank you for helping me stop crying,” she said.

“Did I help?” I asked.

“You did,” she said, “You cured my tears of then.”

“I’m glad I helped, my love,” I said, pulling her closer, “I’m so glad I helped.”

Lessons eight and nine.

Being is doing.

Being there is enough.

As I headed into my room to get ready for bed, I looked down for the first time at my wrist. There I found the two bracelets – both emblazoned with the word HOPE. One facing me, one facing out.

A reminder. A prompt. A circle.


{image is a photo of my wrist showing my two bracelets reading “Voices of Hope,” one facing me, one facing out. No accidents.}

 Lessons ten, eleven, and twelve.

In faith there is hope.

In hope there is faith.

Hope shared is hope multiplied.

I am so grateful to my dad and Noelle for the tickets and to my girl for allowing me the honor of experiencing Godspell with her again. I adore the journey to the heart of that which she loves, through layer upon layer of truth and wisdom and joy and light and love we go.

We go.

* To Grandma Noe – We will not lose faith, we will not lose hope, we will not lose each other. You’ve got this, and we’ve got you. 

11 thoughts on “godspell, again, still, more – part four

  1. There is no such thing as coincidence. It was destined for you and Brooke to be at this performance. Praying for you, Noe.

  2. I felt that I was with you through your words and pictures, it was pure magic and so touching. Noe, be strong and kick this cancer to the curb!

    Love you,

  3. I love Godspell, and I love this story. So much love all around šŸ™‚

    I don’t want to take away from the serious – but when you wrote “she needed more Godspell” – what popped into my head was Christopher Walken’s Saturday Night Live Skit “More cowbell”. Now I will hear “more Godspell” instead!

  4. My sister just forwarded me this blog and I’m so moved. I was a lucky VOHer to be involved in Godspell last Saturday and part of Voices of Hope for the last 5 years. It’s an incredible group and I’m so glad our message of love and hope and joy reverberated to the audience! You are blessed with a very special daughter!

  5. OMGoodness….. I am so so moved by your story and the blessing that is your daughters joy, now permanently woven into my heart! I am the executive artistic director of VOH and this production of Godspell.(I actually remember the exact moment Jess (Turn Back oh Man) addressed your daughter:-) It is always my greatest hope as a director that our work touches the hearts of our audience…. but I have never see the impact of our work expressed with such eloquence and passion – what a gift you have given us!! Whatever joy Brooke received that night, has truly been transformed and shared back to us…. inspiring us , in turn to harness it, and send it forward….. THANK YOU for sharing Brookes story…. and lifting our hearts. (if you would like a copy of the video, please fell free to contact me – we’d love to give Brooke a memento of her special visit to us)

  6. I’m not easily moved to tears by written words (kind of a visual person….) but I’m sitting her with tears filling my eyes at all the joy that you and Brooke were able to experience in a few hours that night. Yay!! for all of you for having that opportunity, and that everything played out just right.

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