The Show Must Go On

The show must go on, they say. And it did, all weekend, all over the country, despite Friday’s shooting in Connecticut, and Thursday’s fire here in our small town, and Tuesday’s shooting in Oregon, and a week that laid us flat on our backs. I felt emotionally bankrupt by Saturday, friends. No room left for Happy or Sad. Like someone accidentally tipped over my Grief Bucket and the Joy spilled out alongside it.

But it’s OK to be empty sometimes. And it’s OK to have to right the bucket. It’s OK, even, to refill it knowing Grief will seep back in with the Joy. Both/And, friends. This is Both/And living. We are complex creatures who fly back and forth between empty and full and happy and sad and grateful and oh-dear-God-my-family-is-driving-me-nuts.

I always find it disconcerting after a tragedy that my kids are still intermittently annoying, and I am still imperfect, fallible me. I can’t help but feel tragedy should somehow make me only grateful and only cherish them and only delighted. And so I must remind myself that this is what it means to be human, and being human is OK.

Joy did trickle into my bucket this weekend in fits and starts and not always where I expected it to come. Each tiny event was like a gift, the gift that tragedy always brings, which is the opening of my eyes to see and to notice and to appreciate. To not take for granted, just for a moment, before I go back to taking for granted which is inevitable and, truly, its own priceless gift.

I’m going to share some of my moments of joy this weekend, because I believe Light is coming, friends, and, in fact, Light is already among us. At the end of this post, I’m  going to ask you if you’ll do the same because I can’t imagine a better way to Light this world than to share our stories.

My kids were in shows this weekend, my oldest dancing and tumbling beautifully in her dance studio’s performance of the Nutcracker, and my three youngest forgetting nearly every line in the church Christmas pageant. Here are my…

Moments of Joy

1. I laughed too loud at the Christmas pageant last night when Mary #2 dropped Baby Jesus on his head.

I couldn’t help but think of all the times I’ve dropped my own metaphorical Jesus on his head, friends, because my theology slipped again, and I was uncertain whether I’d broken Jesus for good. And I’ll admit, I cried a little when our 4-year-old Mary #2 cheerfully shouted “WHOOPS!” and picked poor, mangled Jesus up by his plastic legs to try again. It was like God was sitting in the pew behind me and leaned over to whisper in my ear, “That’s it exactly, Beth. That’s how faith works.”

2. Our rag tag group of kiddos performed our annual, imperfect, endearing Christmas pageant, but my favorite people present at Jesus’ birth this year weren’t the super heroes or my raspy, laringitis angel or the two Marys or my twin shepherds or even the sheep who fell on his face. Nope. My favorite person present at the birth of Christ was

my friend, Webb,

the daddy who donned the sheep head helmet and sat up front because the little lamb in the red dress needed him in order to go on.

3. I took two 6-year-old boys to the Nutcracker.

“Mom,” one said, not at all in a whisper. “Their panties keep showing!”

“They know, Cai Cai. Now, shhhhhh.”

“And they’re so embarrassed, right, Mom?”

“Well, no, Cai. Not exactly. Those are leotards, not panties. And it’s part of their costume, so it’s OK.”

He thought about that for a quiet minute and then hollered, “OH! We can show our underwear to people if we call them leotards and costumes. I get it! Thanks, Mom.”

You’re welcome, world. You’re welcome.

4. I watched these lovely ladies dance in grand company,

and these little boys sleep in grand company, too.

5. And I hugged this teenager too, too tight.

FYI, teenagers LOVE it when their parents force-hug them and then prolong it out of their own sense of neediness. They pretend like they don’t love it by being stiff and unyielding and eye-rolly and saying things like “WHY, Mom?” and “You can stop anytime” but they secretly, deep down inside — like, deep deep down — think it’s awesome.

And so our weekend went. Moments of joy. Moments of grief. Filled to the brim with loving each other and driving each other completely nuts.

If I can ask, and if you would, share a moment of your own? Every story is a light, friends. A candle in the darkness. Whether the story is hopeful or funny or sad. Stories help us to see. To see and to be seen. And I can’t imagine a better way to light the world right now than to be authentically together.

Here’s to the Light.


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37 responses to “The Show Must Go On”

  1. Our Chebbles has written a poem about giving presents to Jesus called, in all seriousness, “The Three Kings of Orientar” … about their various adventures.

    That, and so many other silly Christmas moments (Santa was kind of strangely solicitous about Mama giving him a kiss and having Daddy take a picture) are keeping my head above water. (“Now you can send that out as your Christmas card!” Santa said… Right, dude!)

  2. I am so, SO grateful to all you for these posts. I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I love being part of this honest, joyful, compassionate, funny crowd. YOU are lights in the darkness, friends. I wonder if you know how much.

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE!! Those moments of Light are priceless, and I cherished a couple of my own this past weekend. First, when I drove by a young couple (college age) saying goodbye to each other on a street corner. They stood and spoke for a moment, a quick peck goodbye, and turned away from each other; but they only took a step or two before each turned around to find the other turning to look back, and came back together briefly. It was the sweetest moment of young hopeful love, and I felt uplifted for a moment in spite of the darkness that had filled the day.

    Second, just after I read about the shooting and I sat sobbing and fighting the urge to go pull my first grader out of school just so I could hold her…my 22 month old son (who has a vocabulary of about 6 words and practically refuses to speak under any circumstances) came in the room to find me grieving for those sweet innocent children. He wiggled up into my lap, looked straight into my soul with his beautiful open joyful eyes, and I heard an angelic voice say “wuv a mama.” My tears doubled, but a slow trickle of gratitude and joy started to flow into my grief.

    Thank you, Beth, for sharing your Light, and providing a place for so many others to share theirs. 🙂

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