Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Fervor

Spring begins at sea level and moves upward about eleven miles a day, according to scientists who have studied the phenomenon. It is a transition time when the natural life cycle begins again, when I watch a bee exploring the throat of a daffodil and catch my breath in astonishment at how and why this happens, and who makes it happen. Spring brings a sense of freedom, a feeling of newness, an urge to be creative.

One morning in the spring I was sixteen years old, I sat in my room watching the mild sweet Oregon rain fall on the riot of irises outside my window, explored the Roget’s Thesaurus my parents had given me for my birthday that winter, and decided that I would be a writer. That decision has spared me from the ordinary and made the unconventional common.

My odyssey began in high school. Theater has been in my blood since the spring of my senior year when I auditioned for a part in The Diary of Anne Frank. Although I didn’t get the part, I was assigned to the costume crew, which took me backstage where, for the first time, I inhaled the instantly addictive and nearly palpable scent of creative energy, and I knew this had to be a part of my life.

As a college student, my best learning moments, some even life changing, came when I was involved in plays. I’ll never forget the only applause I ever received as an actress – in my acting class, playing Amanda in a scene from The Glass Menagerie. My interests remained back stage, however, as part of the decision-making that went into the preparation, and I left the acting to people who could memorize lines and control their stage fright.

In the spring of 1967 another rich memory was born. I was the assistant to the faculty member directing a premiere production of a play written by the campus poet in resident, my creative writing teacher from the English department. The author would come to rehearsals to watch the progress of his “offspring,” and consult with the director on production details. It was instructional to listen to these two intensely creative men. I became a sponge. Sometimes when they disagreed about some detail they would turn to me and say, “What do you think?” At first it seemed ludicrous that my opinion should count for anything; I was just happy to be there, absorbing the creative energy and facilitating the activities of all those other creative people involved in the production. Sometimes I had an opinion, and I was grateful for the chance to offer it. Ultimately the collaboration was thrilling.

This spring I’m reminded of fourteen years ago when one of my creations, a play, was brought to life on stage by a group of talented people who gave me the priceless gift of their time to do for me what I couldn’t do for myself. A poet once described birth as “Trailing clouds of glory do we come, from God who is our home.” But as I watched and participated in the development of talent by gifted people around me, I concluded that the clouds of glory we trail after us must be the talents we bring, probably a spiritual inheritance from Heavenly Parents. Somehow when talents are used and shared respectfully, with deference to the Giver of the Gift, there’s inevitably a feeling of renewed life, the return of spring.


jwise said...

Beautiful. I loved being involved in theater in high school, and as I was asked to be a parent-helper in Belinda's "Brigadoon" performances, I also re-lived those exciting backstage moments and enjoyed every second. It really is addicting.

Mary said...

I love this post. Thank you for putting it out there.