I was feeling the need to hold things together one December in the early 90’s.
Using the land for our Bethlehem story had been a vision of my heart for years. It seemed that God had given us land with the story written into its very geography. I was directing the “performance” of our not-named-yet nativity once again. My gifts do not necessarily lie in directing, but I determined to do my best. Judd, the behind-the scenes’ director was loyally helping me.
The majority of our cast that year was college students. Students are great: they are fresh, enthusiastic, creative, and energetic . . . and this particular weekend they were also stressed because we had chosen to do the event the weekend before finals. That was one mistake.
The other mistake was we had only one rehearsal. So on the day of the event, just an hour or so before people were to arrive, there was a touch of bedlam. It began when the guys with the microphone for Mary who was to give a wonderful soliloquy from Max Lucado’s Jesus Came Near arrived late and didn’t have the proper equipment.
As I was problem-solving with the tech guys, the sheep, who were in the pen next to us, decided not to leave the security of the barnyard to go up the hill with the shepherds to their designated “set.” The encouragement that always worked for me, a bucket of grain, worked to no avail. These sheep were being asked to follow very active, loud young men dressed in strange clothing. In their sheep-like rebellion they refused to co-operate. The biblical application was evident, “My sheep know my voice,” and these voices were not the familiar voice of their shepherd.
Leaving the microphone quandary, I helped the would-be shepherds find ropes and get the sheep going in the right direction. I stood at the top of the hill until the sheep were in place around the shepherd’s fire.
Going back to check on the progress of the microphones, I was sidetracked by a truck stuck in the driveway to the pasture. The driver was spinning his wheels while several other students were hand pushing from behind. This truck would provide the shining lights on the angelic host. Finally, gunning the motor, the driver made it up the hill. Unfortunately, no sooner did it approach the shepherd’s campfire than the sheep, already on high alert, became terrified and frantically ran back down the hill to the safety of their pen.
Since the sheep now had ropes that the shepherds could easily grab again, I left the shepherding to them. They would certainly earn their title of shepherd by the time they got their sheep back up the hill.
From the manger scene, I made my way to the top of our two-story barn where the guests were to be seated, the prophets were to make their prophecies, and the crowd would be introduced to a desperate Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay. The benches had been organized in rows facing the large roller doors. We were in pretty good shape now, and I was beginning to feel comfortable.
With a half hour left before the guests arrived, Judd and I dashed to the house to finish cleaning up from our evening meal. A few cups and dirty dishes were left on the counter. I ran some dish water in the sink and grabbed a cup to immerse in the hot soapy water. “Hurry” is not my strong suit, in fact, I have a tendency to be quite clumsy as my mind becomes disengaged from my fingers. As I started to dunk the last cup into the water, it fell from my fingers. Without thinking I grabbed it as it shattered in the sink.
Pulling my hands from the soapy water I looked at the blood beginning to spurt from the middle finger on my right hand. Not good! Trying to stop the bleeding, we realized that this was going to require some “doctor” attention. A trip to the ER was out of the question at this point. Judd decided we should call our “doctor in residence” Charlie Bascom.
It only took a few minutes for Charles to arrive. Looking closely at my finger, he agreed. ” Yes, this should have some stitches, but . . . perhaps we could apply a butterfly band-aid and find something to stabilize the finger.” Looking around the kitchen he queried, “Do you have a spoon?” Of course we did, thinking this might be a joke. After cleaning the cut and applying a band-aid Charles reached for the spoon we had pulled from the kitchen drawer. Applying the spoon to my finger, he began wrapping it tightly.
Now I sported a spoon on my finger with the bowl of the spoon protruding from the top. There was not time to commiserate or to ponder how to adapt to this new appendage. The show must go on!
Quickly, I pulled on some woolen Army gloves. They would somewhat hide the strange specter on my finger. Donning my Army jacket, I rushed out to the barn where the guests were already assembling.
No sooner had I stepped in to the barn when my neighbor Sharon rushed over to me with a kind gentleman in tow. She excitedly introduced me. “Nancy, I would like you to meet my priest, Father D. I have been telling him about this, and I’m so excited for him to meet you.”
“Welcome, Father!” I smiled as I stuck out my right hand to shake his. Retrieving my hand as quickly as I had offered it, I blurted out, “Oh, I’m so sorry! I can’t shake your hand; I have a spoon on my finger.”
No sooner did those words leave my lips than another guest came up to talk. The crowd closed between me and the priest. I never saw him again that evening. I have no idea what that poor man thought. I wonder if he lay awake that night trying to puzzle out the strange response. “She said, ‘I have a spoon on my finger?????'”
There was no turning back; no time for explanations. The program was about to begin, and the past was the past. The audience took their seats, and the lights were dimmed. The first prophet made his appearance, and the evening’s performance had begun.
“Ah, Lord God,” I breathed, “please bring your presence and peace to this place and to the guests.”
Yes, there was an inordinate amount of chaos going on about me, but at the core of it all, God was offering His message of transcendent truth.
And . . . the evening had just begun!
To be continued. . .