The Christmas I forgot God, and she forgave me
One Christmas at our Junior School, we decided to ‘do’ “Captain Noah and his floating 200” for our end of term production. As we were probably the least musical staff in the entire L.E.A., we thankfully left the singing to our talented peripatetic pianist, and turned our attention to the drama. This we based on the mediaeval mystery play, “Noah’s flood” from the Chester cycle.
Casting initially was easy as just everybody wanted to be a sinner (no comment!) For Noah we chose a lad who was the eldest of a large family and always looked worried. (He now has his own large family and looks even more care-worn!) In the play he perfectly managed to convey the tension caused in being true to God, his wife and friends. A pleasant well-adjusted girl was happy to play the nagging termagant, his wife. She enjoyed being bossy and in later life became a school teacher (again no comment!). The animals were provided by the four lower classes, but who was to play God?
“Better leave it until after the weekend”, was the general feeling, “inspiration may strike.” On Monday morning the teacher of the parallel class burst into my room. “No problem regarding God – I’ll send HER in!”
Now my colleague, although a gifted teacher, had strange ideas when the moon was full, as it had been that night. Last full moon his class had managed to block all sinks and taps, coat all surfaces in the entire school with a film of white dust, as they carved eggs from plaster of Paris. However, this full moon had definitely inspired him. Why shouldn’t we portray God as female? We could always justify the decision by referring to certain verses in Isaiah, or to the anchorite Julian of Norwich, who wrote of “God the mother” in her “showings”. And somehow Wendy, the little girl chosen, seemed just right.
She was a complex character, looking vulnerable and angelic but like Desperate Dan in The Beano comic (he of the cow pie fame). It was her voice, however, which was the clinching factor. From her tiny frame issued a deep and commanding voice, so when she called “Noah, Noah” all would feel compelled to sit up and listen. In addition, she was eminently sensible and had good bladder control. These qualities were essential as she had to ascend to Heaven before the audience arrived, and stay there until they departed.
Heaven was a high scaffolding tower, loaned by a local building firm. When covered by clouds and the covenant rainbow it looked impressive. It was dangerous to climb however, and Wendy promised faithfully to wait until I escorted her down after each performance.
There were slight hitches in the early performances. Once an elephant and a goose fell out of the Ark. On another occasion Noah’s sons as they marched off jauntily “two by two” managed to produce “V” signs that were not Churchillian! However, on the last night the children were perfect and so the staff rushed to the changing rooms to congratulate them.
Later, shattered and exhausted, when we collapsed in the staff room in that state where you long for a cup of coffee but hope someone else will make it, a knock was heard at the door.
The caretaker announced he was off as some people had beds to go to, but on his rounds he had heard sobbing coming from the front of the hall. It was God! In my busy-ness and exhaustion I had forgotten her, but she had faithfully kept her promise to me and waited for help to descend.
After milky coffee and chocolate biscuits in the staff room, God cheered up. By now there was no one left to escort her home, so I drove her. On the journey I turned to her and said, “Look, I’m so sorry I forgot you, especially as you kept your promise to me. Please forgive me.” God gave a lovely smile. “Actually, I felt sorry for you as the other teachers teased you so much (true!). Of course, I forgive you.”
So that’s the story of how I forgot God one Christmas, and she forgave me. Is there a moral here I wonder?
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