Friday, March 9, 2012

Act III, Scene II

"Just give me a stage," I've often said.  Perhaps that is one reason I enjoyed teaching high school English.  I was front and center on stage everyday.  

My love for the stage began in high school when I joined the drama club and began to audition for high school plays.  My favorite class my senior year in high school was drama.  That year, I had a leading part in several plays.  

Perhaps, my love of plays and acting were one reason why I was drawn to the poem below by Madeleine L'Engle the first time I saw the title in print during the 1980's.  On my first reading of the poem, I found myself relating to what she had written at a very deep level.  

*The Main Characters in  My Life
My Cast of Thousands

"Act III, Scene II"
                            By Madeleine L’Engle

         Someone has altered the script.
        My lines have been changed.
        The other actors are shifting roles.
        They don’t come on when they’re expected to,
        and they don’t say the lines I’ve written
        and I’m being upstaged.
        I thought I was writing this play
        with a rather nice role for myself,
        small, but juicy
        and some excellent lines.
        But nobody gives my cues
        and the scenery has been replaced.
        I don’t recognize the new sets.
        This isn’t the script I was writing.
        I don’t understand this plot at all.
        To grow up
        is to find
        the small part you are playing

in this extraordinary drama
written by somebody else.

When I first read this poem, I was just going through a divorce I did not want and it seemed my life was upside down.  Suddenly, the part of wife and mother I thought I would play throughout my life was being ripped away from me.  The story of my divorce 30 years ago, and the subsequent fall-out from that divorce, are not the topic of this blog post.  That is a story for another day.  

This poem spoke to me all those many years ago because I realized I had limited control over the script of my life.  Even though I fancied myself an author who was writing a stage play that I thought I rather liked, I learned that the other leading character in the play did not like his role, or perhaps he didn't like the lines I wanted him to speak, or it might have been the final outcome of the play that he did not like. In the end, the author of the play, that would be me, had to do a rewrite.  

The script of my life that I thought I would write hasn't really gone the way I had it in my head even after I started working on the re-write.  I had no idea of the joy and the tragedy that be included in my new script.  Lately, the characters have been shifting in the major and minor parts that I thought they would play.  Believe me, "I don't understand the plot at all."  I think I am beginning to really understand the last few lines of the line of the poem.  I am coming to accept my part in this grand drama of life.  

I have a very small part.  I can't write the script.  I can't even direct the production of this drama.  I can't write the parts the other characters who share the stage with me are playing.  

Thankfully, I continue to fully trust in a Sovereign power who has control over the entire production.


*This family portrait shows the entire Wessely-Christiansen family.  The group includes all of my husband's children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren, and all of my children, sons-in-law and daughter-in-law, and my grandchildren.  Only one daughter-in-law is missing because she was studying out of the country when the portrait was taken.  This portrait hangs in our family room.  I used Shoe Box 1000 Memories to take the photo of the portrait which was originally photographed by Portraits by Leslie in Pueblo, Colorado.  


Linda Myers said...

Amen, sister!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

What a stunning poem. Everyone should have it handy when things go wrong--or even when things go right. I keep reminding myself that control is just an illusion. I can see why this meant a lot to you 30 years ago, and why it probably still does.

Joanne said...

I love that poem! To me it is comforting to know that God is in control.
I love that picture too! Have a great weekend Sally!
Blessings, Joanne

#1Nana said...

Great photo! Good poem too. I don't like to dwell on the idea that I have no control. I like to maintain the illusion.

I also was involved in drama in high school.

Thisisme. said...

Hi Sally. My goodness, look at the size of your joined families! That's quite a cast that you have there. Makes my little family look minute! Isn't that poem lovely, especially when you actually read between the lines. As you say, there is a greater power writing our script for us and we have to trust that He knows what is best for us, although we may sometimes wonder about this. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

Arkansas Patti said...

That really is a picture to be cherished.
I haven't thought about it but you are so right. We may think we are in control of our lives, but the twists and turns are often created by another writer. Thankfully, we can rewrite and select a plan B.

troutbirder said...

An excellent metaphor. I married an English teacher and the script has had its up and downs. Still, the show must go on and we're enjoying the final act... :)

Olga said...

But...all the world's a we all just wing it. Improv keeps you on your toes.

Olga said...

But...all the world's a we carry on. Improv keeps us on our toes.

DJan said...

I love Madeline L'Engle but had never read this particular poem. It's wonderful. And that picture of your blended family is simply amazing. Yes, we just need to play our part to the best of our ability and ride the crest of the waves! And hanging on for dear life... :-)

Beth said...

The poem is great. Thank you!

I am waiting to see what part I play in the next stage of my life.

Lynilu said...

I have always found that one of the rewards of being in a tough place (like a divorce) is not what I go through at the time, what touches me while I am there (the poem), or how I respond to that which in inevitable at the time. What is important and matters in the big picture is looking back a year or many years later and seeing the core of my story, understanding how I survived.

Most of us won't really see that core without a method .... writing has always been mine. I often write about memories and events of my life, and through that I've learned much about myself and my relationships. This post, like many of yours before, reminds me of my own process.

What a beautiful family you have. What a beautiful soul you are. I'm glad we "got to know each other." Your stories continue to touch me.

Jeanie said...

I'm not familiar with this poem, but I think I will need to print it out. What a true and beautifully written reminder of how life happens when we are making other plans -- or scripting our own lives. I have often found that while some challenges yield an end far better than we would have ever expected, despite the challenge at the time, some are simply unexplicable and they throw our script into total havoc, never to fully recover.

I so admire you, Sally. I admire how you fight back, your love, your caring, your willingness to be exactly who you are, your great ability to share so openly. Your script may well have been rewritten and some of the lines hard to learn, but you truly are a star.

Relyn said...

OH, you hit the nail on the head for me, too. One of the best parts of teaching for me is the audience. I love that.

rosaria said...

Oh yes! We don't write our parts; and we can only interpret it in this moment, in the moments we can control.
Loved the portrait!
What exactly is Shoe Box 1000 Memories?

K said...

I love this. I'm keeping this poem, for sure.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

That poem is astounding -- and your own observations so very wise. I really admire your strength and courage in living through some very tough and painful and totally unscripted life scenarios and growing and giving so much in the process. What you're saying is so true and certainly applicable to all our lives!

Rita said...

Nail on the head poem!
Lovely picture of your big family!
Happy Sunday. :)

Dee Ready said...

Dear Sally,
Thank you so much for introducing me to this poem by Madeline L'Engle. I've copied and pasted it and now will run off to put on my refrigerator.

And thank you, also, for sharing with us how the poem so speaks to what has happened in your life in the past thirty years.


Chatty Crone said...

Oh my goodness - I love the poem - I love your writing - and I love your honesty. May I say I really feel I understand you! sandie

Linda Reeder said...

What a beautiful family!
I guess I haven't ever thought of life as following a script. It would have to be re-written every day! And each actor on this stage is acting in their OWN drama.
Given that, isn't it amazing that we can actually get a large family to all be on the same page for even one day, like in your photo!

covnitkepr1 said...

I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation

Barb said...

Oh, so true, Sally - we are not the producers or directors and sometimes don't even know our lines and cues until the moment we must go on stage. That is a fabulous meshing of families - a wonderful portrait! Hope you're feeling better day by day.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Sally, True---we can't write the script of our lives... But--through our actions, we can make choices and decisions which can enhance our lives ---or make that life harder... It's all about attitude --as I had said many times.

Great family picture..

We are home from our 2nd trip is a month--and both of us have colds.. Yuk! Guess it will be REST for this upcoming week for both of us.


Nezzy said...

What a wonderful poem framed by that lovely family portrait. What a beautiful family ya have there.

You are truly blessed girl!!!

God bless and have yourself a sunshiny kinda day!!! :o)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Really interesting post. Life takes us along an open road and I guess allows us which paths to take. But there's always someone waiting in the wings to divert us back onto the straight and narrow. Someone said that to me once (she was referring to life in a religious sense but it made sense to me.)

A very thought-provoking poem - thank you for sharing.
CJ x

Kay said...

This is such a powerful poem that would resonate with anyone. You are so lucky to be able to have a photo combining almost the entire family. That is such a treasure.

Stafford Ray said...

Act 111 scene 11 just about sums it up. I guess the sooner we realise we need to write our own scripts 'on the go', the better. Unfortunately, and reading your posts tells me a lot about your script, we do not get into the swing of it until, as the title suggests, well into the play, if ever! You are OK now, but it seems you have suffered from others 'fluffing their lines' and like all of us have fluffed a few yourself.
But, and this is a big but, I am confident you can truthfully say, you did the best you could and that is all one can ask of anyone.