Monday, October 30, 2006
Rejoice in Hope! aka, Parents' Weekend
I returned last night (in the dark... the dark, dark, dark!) from Freshman Parents' Weekend at Big City U, where son Larry-O is pursuing his dream of acting in what is probably the best program for it in the country. (No pride or bragging there.) As on moving in day, it rained and rained Saturday morning, and I grumbled as the ex Mr. Mags and I shuffled into the snazzy auditorium to hear speeches by deans and department heads. (Larry-O and Petra were off being sibling-y together. More on that later).
Instead of a boring two and a half hours of speeches, I was treated to what was really a conversation with artists who appear to be genuinely in love with both the work they do and the young people with whom they get to do it. In every case we heard a clarion call for the importance of the arts in society-- a mission on behalf of excellence and in service of a national and international conversation about what is really going on in this hurting world of ours. I tell you, friends, my heart soared. I became teary. I contemplated my own stop-and-start artistic endeavors (the play I began writing ten years ago; the one I said I'd write this summer; my just about once-a-year songwriting; the all-woman Shakespeare troupe I keep thinking I'll start), and resolved not to let all these things die in embryo. We saw a wonderful, slightly demented movie by an alumnus of the program whose theme can be described as "Bowling with a madman in the woods... but at what cost???" but whose theme is really the delicate task of pushing the baby bird from the nest and hoping like hell s/he can fly. The head of Larry-O's department left us with a quote of James Baldwin: "Be careful what set your heart on, for it will surely be yours."
Saturday afternoon was devoted to a brilliant demonstration at the theater studio where my son is getting his primary training in acting. Again, I was inspired, uplifted, and thrilled to be brought in on the theory and the practice of what Larry is setting his heart on.
Saturday night we took in the local cultural scene with a vengeance, and Petra was in heaven for the play we saw, the celebrity photos we got, and songs we all took home in our heads and hearts.
Sunday morning I had the privilege of hearing a stewardship sermon, of all things, at one of the great churches of my denomination, by one of its great preachers. And there my heart soared for this work I have chosen, or which has chosen me (I think that's what a call is...).
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Romans 12:9-12
Larry-O looks tired. He is working hard. He has a stubborn stye in his eye. He is switching roommates, because the one he has is partying a little too hardily for his taste. He loves his classes passionately, especially the ones on acting technique. He is thriving in the city environment.
When he and Petra got to go off for the morning on Saturday, they basically walked around the city, got coffee, met up with friends and other siblings. And they talked and talked and talked. He told her about his life. She told him about her life. When we parted on Sunday afternoon, and they hugged, I heard her say to him, "You are so cool." And he looked at her and said "You're cool." Sorry, but I'm tearing up even as I write this. If anyone had presented me a vision of this brother and sister in such a love-fest even 2 years ago, I would have said "Yeah. Right." But time and mutual interests and, probably, a little separation have worked their magic. I now think they have the kind of relationship I never dared hope they'd have. It's so cool.
There it is... parents weekend, complete with a sermon. That baby bird is flying. Rejoice in hope!