Comfort ye, my people

autumngivens

It is a cold Saturday morning and I do not like what that means about the winter ahead. I am not a fan of the cold. That’s why I live in the south, and would not snark at moving further down the coast.

As is has been for many mornings, I’m hesitant to write this post. I am fairly certain that you’re tired of hearing me talk about my post-show funk. Heaven knows I’m tired of experiencing it. It has been an intense and exhausting experience.

But I am ready and determined to move on.

I think the intensity came in part because it caught me so off guard. I wasn’t prepared for it. That, combined with the aforementioned exhaustion, the shoulder pain and the drugs were a powerful combination. As I’ve been dealing with this over the week, I’ve been trying to put it all in perspective. Why has this had such a lasting impact?

In part, as I told my wife yesterday, I think it was that for over a month in rehearsals and performances I spent every night talking about the death of my best friend. I felt the death. I grieved. Still, I knew he was backstage waiting for our final scene and the curtain call. Then, Sunday it was as if I was grieving again and I knew that I wouldn’t see him again.

Irrational? Totally. We’ve even talked about getting together soon for a beer, and we’re actually reprising our roles at an event in December.

So, I look back and realize that yes, it was the combination of all things. And the reality is, if I can just rest, I’ll be fine. Resting comfortably, however, is a challenge. I managed to sleep through most of last night by icing the shoulder all night long. It works.

But seriously, enough of that. It’s time to move on.

I do not, like Elijah have a juniper tree where I can go and hope to lie down and die. Not that I want to anyway. But it’s good to know that even the prophets of God can get a little down. Look up the reference. It will do you good.

I’m no prophet. But I do know depression. I went through a very serious round of it following my cancer surgery and treatment some twenty-five years ago. It lingered for months, and required lots of help, including professional counseling.

God gave me a very special gift through all of that. While I know that I am still prone to depression, there came a recognition of sorts. Through the years, when depression has begun to creep in, I’ve been able to understand what was happening and therefore make a change. That change is usually rest.

See the issue with the last week?

Still, while it does not happen as often in my life as I would like, and perhaps that’s my own fault, even in my struggles over the past week God gave some reassurances.

Tuesday night, I attended an event in Henrico where some friends were performing. On the way home, I received totally random call from my lifelong best friend. We don’t talk often and it’s usually via email. But as he once described it “Our relationship is still very deep, it’s just not often very wide.”

Scott was calling on behalf of our university with the goal of raising funds for our class reunion gift. We hit 35 years in June. I was not on his list of potential larger donors. In fact, I got on the list because he was told “call the people you want to talk to, but the Fletchers are already sending multiple thousands to the school in tuition.” So, he called. Right when I needed to talk to someone.

Random? I think not.

Scott was there with me when, while touring in Michigan with a ministry team, I received the news that my father had died. We were in each other’s weddings. Years later, I drove to Pennsylvania to help him say goodbye to his father. It was absolutely the right thing to do.

I don’t believe in coincidence. God knew that I needed to hear from someone who has been a rock in my life for decades.

It doesn’t stop there.

Later in the week I was chatting with school friends on Facebook. I knew one of them does a lot of acting and directing so I sent him a private message and asked “Tom, do you ever grieve over the end of a show?”

He assured me that he absolutely did. And we had time to discuss what it was like to devote so much time and energy to project and then suddenly it’s over. Then we agreed that, one day, we will act together.

Coincidence? Again I think not.

Finally, yesterday’s reading took me through Lamentations 3. If you know the passage, you know where I’m going with this.

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
– Lamentations 3:22-23

How absolutely perfect.

It’s a new morning. A new day.

While I still grieve the show, while I’m still in pain, while I’m still exhausted, God’s mercies, and peace, are new for me this morning.

I realize there is a great deal of vulnerability in this post. Some who are not believers may think I’m being a little silly. That’s okay. Jesus told us you would.

My theater cohorts might also think that I’m overreacting, that it’s just another show, that more opportunities abound.

There’s also truth in that. Although I suspect some will say “I know exactly how you feel.”

Either way. We all have to move on.

Today is about catching up on writing assignments, about de-leafing the front yard, and about learning music for a callback audition for my next, yes next, show.

It doesn’t actually help that this particular musical makes Les Miserables seem like a feel-good comedy. But it’s a beautiful show.

I am determined to move forward. I’m determined to beat this shoulder pain. I am determined to get some rest.

As soon as I can.

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