Not Just Community Theatre

My beautiful, talented friend, Becca Stabno, wrote this heartfelt piece about our time in Women of Lockerbie presented by Summit Theatre Group. It was a wonderful show, full of talented people that I want to know all my life. Thanks for letting me post, Becca. You’re a terrific writer, singer, actor, wife, mother, daughter, person. Glad to have met you here. Glad to have acted with you. Glad to be neighbors.

By Becca Stabno

I have never been able to cry on stage.

In 18 years of community theatre musicals and plays, I have never been able to quite produce an actual tear. I have come close a few times-when I played Tzeitl in FIDDLER, and Papa Tevye wanted me to marry Lazar Wolf, I almost managed it. In SOUND OF MUSIC, as the Baroness saying goodbye to the Captain, I felt a twinge. But mostly, no tears.

That all changed last fall when I was cast as one of the WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE with Summit Theatre Group. Lockerbie tells the story of the aftermath of the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 in Scotland, and how the women in the town wanted to turn the terrorists’ act of hatred into an act of love and compassion by washing the clothing of the victims and returning them to the families of those who were lost.

It’s an emotional topic, and an emotional script, with an added story of a couple whose only son, a college boy on a school trip, perished in the explosion and whose body was never recovered. Their grief, even seven years later, was ongoing and as strong as the day they heard that their son would not be home for Christmas. The women interact with the couple, and try to encourage healing by sharing their own stories, and their own pain.

I was thrilled to be given the chance to do this play. It was exciting and fun to train with a dialect coach to learn the correct Scottish accent, and it drove my children crazy because I practiced on them all the time. It was also only the second straight play I had done since college, so I was eager to explore that genre some more. But something about this story just grabbed me and held on.

Lockerbie changed me. We immersed ourselves in this little Scottish village, in these people and their relationships with one another. We experienced their loss every single night in rehearsal. And it was so very real, that night after night, I cried. Real, actual tears, not just “it’s my character’s feelings and I am supposed to cry now” crying. We were so involved in the story that the tears were a natural part of our experience. So when the mother shared how she found out about the crash, when the father shared about how he can’t get his wife past her grief and had never been able to grieve himself, when one of the women shared how she lost her family when the plane came down on her house, those things felt real. And I cried.

And then, we washed the clothes. The director, Betsy Sexton, asked us each to donate our own clothes to be bloodied up for the props, so we were washing shirts that we had once worn, or that our children had played in, and they were stained and torn, and it was so real. Tears flowed freely, because this was powerful and moving, this was our way to show the world that hatred will not win, that love can overshadow the anger, and the light will come when the sun rises tomorrow.

The cast of that show became very close. Experiencing something that emotional night after night, as a group, really brought us together. The relationships we forged as we created this story are life-long and special and enduring. One of the other cast members was a friend of my parents in college and through their young adulthood, and so she knew me as a young child-now we have bonded as adults through this show. My cast mates have a place in my heart now, and I believe that will be lasting.

Community theatre did that. It gave me a new family in the people who worked together on this play. It gave me challenges in learning a new dialect; it gave me a chance to try something new with an emotional drama. This play was so timely-even though the crash was 20 years ago, the message is so very relevant today, with all the hatred and anger and pain in the world. Sharing the story of Lockerbie was a chance to show a different response to acts of hate. It was important. It mattered.

Being in community theatre gives me opportunities to meet new people, experience new characters, and tell new stories. I am so grateful for the chance to tell such a powerful story, and to have spent a brief time in Lockerbie.

Oh, aye, Becca. Well said, Lass. 🙂


Nice Attack

Founded by the Greeks in 350 BC, Nice, France was originally named Nikaia. The Greek goddess Nike (goddess for victory) was the inspiration for the name. Victorious over the Ligurians, the Greeks would have considered Nice an important coastal city for trading. Nice was very near a Roman trading port, essential to stay competitive on the Mediterranean.

Nice is a nice town. One of the nicest.  The Mediterranean south of France is one of the most opulent places a person could go. A popular vacation spot of the rich. The south of France has been developed into the height of culture and extravagance. Built up from a trade city into a resort destination.

And on a day of celebration of independence for Nice and all of France, a madman bloodied the street. 10 days after our own national holiday of independence. (Can you imagine a terrorist attack on the 4th of July in Florida? Almost, it happened just a few weeks ago.) Both days symbolizing freedom from oppression and tyranny. Born out of the same century. France has been our ally for hundreds of years. An international symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty is a gift from our French sister.

I am heartbroken, tearful and sad after looking at the graphic pictures of violence. A wake of blood left in the path of some misguided lunatic. Mournful for our brothers and sisters in France. Devastated at the cries of those grieving their loved ones on a lonely street, in the middle of the night. I can’t imagine losing my daughter or husband in an act of violence or terrorism.

This would be a big victory for ISIS. To destroy something so nice. To pierce the darkness with terror and bloodshed. No claim to the attack has been issued at the writing of the blog post. But what other organization or state has a stake in such an attack? An ISIS victory over all that it hates: life, freedom and, in their minds, our sinful lifestyle.

But the victory is this:
we continue.
Civilization will continue and you will be counted as its enemy, ISIS.
History will remember you as thugs.

ISIS: Like the Nazis of Europe, your days are numbered. You may have small victories, but you will not win. Just like the Hitlers and Bin Ladens of the world, you will die. You and those like you will never know peace because you choose war.

Your families have been killed. I know. Your children have been hurt. I know. Your land has been scarred. I know. But the only path to peace is restraint.

In the face of death, destruction, personal injury, theft and molestation of an entire people, Gandhi promoted restraint and resistance. The Indians were being restricted and killed by England in their own country, and Gandhi called for passive resistance. They were quietly tortured, imprisoned, beaten and killed, one by one, until the world could no longer ignore what was happening. It took a long time. Longer than innate, rightful independence. But ISIS, and others like you–you have been at war even longer.

I do not totally agree with American foreign policy in the Middle East, but you have to stop. You do not have a right to kill because we believe in different things. Many came to this country (USA) to escape intolerance. To establish religious freedom. That is one of the basic principles of our nation. Our way of life. And you threaten that, ISIS.

The Malalas of the world will continue to be educated and rewarded. Culture will continue to thrive. Free markets are unstoppable. Soldiers will defend our peaceful nations and way of life. Whatever mistakes we made or make, the answer is never blood for blood. The Holy Bible reminds us that revenge is in the hands of God. You worship a god that has no power if you must do his work. Your time on this planet is coming to an end. And so is your ideology. The world won’t bear you. Civilization won’t carry you. The righteous won’t tolerate your violence.

This we know from history: Nice will endure. Civilization will be victorious. Love will win. And the terrorists of the world will spit and kick at the heels of culture and refinement. But Nice-ness will have the last say.

To Hell With It

1 Peter 5:8-11  The Message
“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.”

I was looking for verses regarding Satan this morning and this 1st Peter passage was first, it must have met the search criteria the most. It’s one of my favorites. I read several versions of this passage on and I like this one the best. Mainly because of this phrasing “…will have you put together and on your feet for good.” But I should share also, in other versions, Satan is referred to as a lion prowling for prey to devour. I love these words as well because they are so apt in describing the Devil.

Daniel was thrown into a lion pit, by order of the king. For praying. (Thank God we live in a country where we can pray openly without consequence. What if we prayed and were arrested? Sentenced to death?) And God protected Daniel all night. He didn’t let the lions eat Daniel and in the morning, Daniel was pulled out with no injuries, not a scratch, not even a few lion slobbers. And those lions were hungry. The men who conspired to trap Daniel were thrown into the pit with their FAMILIES! And the Bible says, in Daniel 6:24 (The Message), “Before they hit the floor, the lions had them in their jaws, tearing them to pieces.” Woah?!

Daniel was a devout follower of God. He prayed even though he would be sentenced to death. He ate a healthy diet even though he was in a foreign country and was expected to eat what the king was eating. He kept following God when he didn’t have to, when he was expected not to. Daniel was strong and came face-to-face with a lion. I think it’s important that the animal here is a lion. He came face-to-face with temptation and pressures of all kinds and he stayed holy, pure and resolute. Because of his devotion, for God’s glory, God protected him from a PIT of lions. A pit of devils. A pit of temptation.

We need to be like Daniel. We need to pray regularly. Even when it’s hard. We need to eat better, even when offered the richest foods of kings. We need to keep to God’s way of life if we are going to go up against a pit of lions every day. If you had to make a list of lions, what would be in your pit of temptation and sin? For me:

I have a longer list, but you get the picture. I come face-to-face with all kinds of lions. And sometimes, they devour me before I even hit the floor.

Satan is real. Satan is known as the Deceiver. His lies are beautiful and tempting. Why would we fall into sin if they were ugly? Why would we sin if we could see the harm? I think the biggest mistake we can make is to underestimate the Devil. You can’t argue with the Devil. We can’t win against the Devil. We need help. We need to follow what Jesus did when he was tempted. Rebuke Satan and let angels help us. Let God protect us. Jesus was tested for 40 days and after he rejected Satan and his temptations, “…angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.” (Matthew 4)

We don’t take away Satan’s power by ignoring him or diminishing him. Just because we believe in our modern society that devils don’t exist, doesn’t mean they don’t. I know! It’s sounds weird. Hokey. Panicky. Downright ridiculous. But Satan is real and he’s on the prowl. I mean, YES!, we sin. We choose. We make the decision to go down and roll around in the pit. BUT! Satan is calling us down.

Lead me to the rock that is higher.

Who are the “angels” in your life? Do you have any or are you surrounded by devils? Prayer, Bible-reading daily and asking for help are all good ways to stay vigilant against lions. And I believe, you *must* acknowledge the Devil and tell him where to go. To Hell with you, Satan.

I am your’s, God. Save me.

Bind yourself to Christ. And hold on for the dawn. He “…will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.”

This Was Due Yesterday

Written by guest, Guy C. Maggio

Last Thursday, I resolved to read the Bible daily and journal about it in order to improve myself. I have many flawed personality traits that can (and often do) interfere with my ability to have a peaceful, positive relationship with my family. I also have Attention-Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), which sometimes makes it difficult for me to remain focused and on-task. (Example: this paragraph took me about 8 minutes to write. That seems a bit long, doesn’t it? I had to look up A.D.D. and I’m editing sentences as I go. I’ve always been like this; it’s why my homework was always late.)

My daughter recently announced her desire to become baptized. I’m resolved to learn whatever I can about baptism from both a scriptural and historical perspective. (In fact, that’s how I intend to study and learn about the entire Bible – starting with the Scriptures themselves, then supplementing with articles and scholarly materials which provide context and analysis to help me better understand.) [Sigh.] Sorry, I did it again; I digressed into a little tangent. That’s why these things take me so long.
My daughter is 12, almost 13. I was baptized when I was 14 at the Blue Ridge Baptist Temple (since moved on). But my path towards “salvation” was different than hers. I started attending church because a friend from my school bus invited me to come. The church had an aggressive recruitment program; every Sunday they announced attendance numbers, proudly and enthusiastically emphasizing any increases from the week before, and the ebullient youth pastor would always encourage us to ask more friends and more classmates to come next week for Rodeo Roundup, or whatever themed event they’d celebrate with games and prizes… I’m digressing again. I know I had a point when I began this paragraph.
Oh yes, my point was this: I became baptized simply because it was expected of me. I was scooped up by some charismatic evangelicals whose only concern was getting any and every warm body they could find in the door, led to Jesus, and adding to the collection plate (which they passed both in the early kids’ service and again later in the main service). I was frightened towards salvation by them literally putting the fear-of-God in me. Asking, “If you were to die right now, are you 100% sure you would go to Heaven?” I wasn’t running towards Christ as much as I was running away from Hell, with fear. I sought refuge in the baptismal font to escape hell-fire, like the family huddled in a lake to escape a marauding wildfire.
But that’s not my daughter’s experience. My wife and I haven’t threatened her with hell-fire and eternal damnation. We instead talked about the glory of God’s love shown through mercy, grace, and forgiveness. We acknowledged how we all fall short of God’s glory when we try to live life according to our own flawed, selfish standards. We talked about how Jesus of Nazareth exemplified and embodied a God-centered life that overcame sin and death. And we shared how praying for and submitting to the Holy Spirit helps us navigate the proper path when our own skewed moral compass leads us astray. She’s not running terrified from Hell; she’s running courageously towards God, with love. That leaves me immensely humble and grateful.