In the spring of 1999 I hatched a brilliant idea. I would write a play for Y2K!
The working title was God is Under the Weather. A church drama team gathers on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve to strike the set and put away all the props from their Christmas play. A blizzard materializes so quickly and fiercely, they become stranded at the church. Along comes a traveler seeking refuge from the storm and assistance with car problems. To pass the time, the team performs its short Christmas piece for their out-of-town guest, thus creating a play-within-a-play.
The team includes Jessica, a teenager who shares a special bond with their Shakespeare-quoting team leader, Oscar, even though neither of them knows she is his biological daughter. Her widowed mother, Gail, comes along to help but has no intention of rekindling a long-dead romance with Oscar. (Are you still with me?)
Another teammate has brought along his pregnant wife who goes into labor. The power goes out. The church phone is dead. And it’s 1999, so the few who might own cell phones find them dead, too. As the story unfolds, secrets are revealed, hearts are laid bare, souls are inspired, and a baby is born on the stroke of Y2K.
I sent this dazzling work of genius off to the top publishers of church drama scripts, certain they’d clamor for it. I wondered whether Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts would play the lead when the movie came out.
In the play-within-the-play, one character receives a gift of a delicate glass nativity scene inside a glass ball. I didn’t know if such a thing existed. When I found the exact ornament while browsing a fundraising catalog from our kids’ school, I knew it was a sign. I practically heard the Hallelujah chorus while cherubs danced above the catalog. I ordered the ornament immediately, so I’d be ready when my play hit the big time.
In my naivety, (funny how similar to “nativity” that sounds), there were so many things I did not understand. Such as:
· Churches do not want to put on plays between Christmas and New Years, and even if they did…
· Publishers don’t want scripts for plays that have never been produced, and even if they did…
· Publishers do not want to publish a script that would only be useful for a once-in-a-lifetime event, and even if they did…
· Publishers would have needed to see this script in 1996. By the time I mailed the script, directors should have been handing out parts!
Naturally, the play was rejected. Naturally, I felt crushed. Though the full play was never produced, I did sell the shorter play-within-a-play years later to a publisher who included it in a Christmas collection. I have no idea whether it’s ever been staged.
|Photo by G. Loewen Photography|
But the little glass nativity scene hangs on our tree every year. You might think this monument to my humiliation would not be worth hanging on to, but I still like it. It’s a reminder of so many things, like surviving life’s disappointments, and all I’ve learned in the intervening years. It reminds me what’s truly important: the baby in the manger who loves me anyway and who understands rejection to a depth I’ll never experience.
Not even my family knows the significance of that ornament, since I’ve never shared the story behind it. Until now.
What’s your favorite ornament?