View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

When I grow up

Time to get seriously childish.

Way back when I first mentioned a possible call to the diaconate, I mentioned that I was turning 50. I viewed that as an age to look back at my life, and to look at where I might go.

The diaconate is an important part of where I might go.

Now that I’m a week away from the diaconate day of reflection – the next step in the discernment process – there’s something else I’ve been thinking about.

What do I want to do when I grow up?

The question may sound silly, but it is appropriate, because what I want to do is to write and perform for children!

Now before you think I’m crazy (okay, you may be right anyway), this is not something out of the blue.

I have long loved children’s literature. Even as I’ve been reading theology books, Dickens, and Shakespeare, I’ve also been reading such books as L. Frank Baum’s The Patchwork Girl of Oz, C. S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, and Bruce Lansky’s collection, Kids Pick the Funniest Poems. When I read to my daughters when they were young, I enjoyed the books as much as they did!

Moreover, for the last 11 years, I’ve been a professional storyteller and children’s musician. I have entertained at festivals, picnics, libraries, schools, private homes, etc. I tell traditional and original stories, and sing traditional and original songs.

It has been very much a part-time thing (I work two jobs and have been raising a family), but it’s something I’ve had some success at. I was even the featured storyteller on a children’s cable show for one season.

When my schedule was more flexible, I also acted with a children’s theater company and with a Shakespeare troupe. Along the way I’ve played a dragon (and nearly set the theater on fire!), an ogre, a goblin, a doctor, a wizard, a father, and a grizzled Civil War veteran.

Sounds like type casting.

One of the things hanging in my closet is a Santa outfit. I hope to start portraying him for hire – and for free for some worthy groups.

My fascination with Santa is part of the inspiration behind my other blog – Santa's Diary.

That blog is also a way to develop some story ideas I hope to publish some day.

So that is one way I’m pursuing that dream.

I’ve also written two children’s plays I’m trying to market. One is The Vain King and the Dragon. That play grew out of a story I told my daughters (it features three lovely princesses, by the way!) The other play is Stone Soup, based on the classic story. I even got to direct and stage performances of that play at the school where I teach.

The latest front I’m working on is children’s poetry.

I am the monster `neath your bed,
the one with sharpened claws.
And right below your sleepy head
I rest my fang-filled jaws.

Yes, I’m the monster `neath your bed
who’s making all that noise.
But that’s my monster way to ask,
“May I please play with your toys?”

Okay, at least it’s a start.

Part of what got me thinking about this even more was watching the Dorothy Day movie, Entertaining Angels, the other night with members of several parish’s social ministry committees.

In the movie, Martin Sheen, playing Day’s teacher and mentor, Peter Maurin, tells Day (Moira Kelly) to start a newspaper. When Day asks where she’ll get the money to start the newspaper, he says, “When you are doing God’s work, money is not a prerequisite. You just begin to do it.”

The Catholic Worker newspaper is now more than 70 years old.

So, when it comes to writing and performing for children on a more consistent basis, I think I’ll just begin to do it.


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