Providence Flashed Me

Ooo, here it is again. That flash. A momentary sensation that comes over me and then is gone. It leaves me grasping wildly at words to describe it, while the experience is still in the vicinity. If I’m near paper and pen I try to jot down whatever I can recall. It’s like trying to identify a subtle hint of something in a dish you enjoy. “What is that,” you say as you check in with your tongue, try to recall where you tasted it before. 

Except I can’t take another bite. That was it, all I get is a flash and I’m left trying to identify.

I might take a few steps back, as if it’s a vapor I could re-enter.

Fall. These flashes happen more often and more intensely in the fall and I’ve come to think of them as brief encounters with the divine. And these flashes, impressions, visions are my little earthbound being’s way of conceptualizing God.

Providence suddenly sprinkles a grab bag of vivid, delightful, arresting autumnal images, ideas, impressions, her splashy way of saying, “You can’t understand, and even if you could you could never put it into words, but here.” 

“Consider,”  she says,  “the perfect cup of coffee, a novel that takes your breath away, red plaid, birch logs snapping in the fireplace, partridges running in the undergrowth, brilliant red leaves against a cerulean sky. See you again some time.”

And there’s one other impression that is always in the flash.

You think this is all leading to pumpkin spice now, right? While I admit that the idea of a slice of pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee have been regularly floating through my mind since that first crisp morning a couple weeks ago, that’s not where I’m going with this.  That whiff of cinnamon as I press the first cool firm morsel between my teeth, while the spices dance on my tongue and sweet notes rise through my sinuses and bathe my eye sockets in happiness and promises – what were we talking about? Yes, certainly pumpkin spice holds an uncontested place in the cornucopia of fall sensations.

But I’m talking about the theater. It’s in every divine fly-over in the fall. (In the Spring, the divine sprinkles include badminton and tea cakes and statues in moonlit gardens and rustling green leaves)  But in the fall, it’s theater.

Sigh.

I’m standing in a quiet empty theater, in the aisle; I see wooden seats, closed and waiting, and the floorboards of the stage. 

As I said, it’s only a momentary burst of heaven.

Of course, its not without precedent.

“Don’t worry about the end,” I assured my actor as I jammed a large green papier-mâché monster head over my friend’s horrified noggin. “We’ll figure that out when we get there.”

My career was right on track at age 10 and I was so confident and anxious to produce that I didn’t always take the time to write the last few lines of the play before I moved into production. 

And then there was radiantly beautiful Mrs. Marble, a grade school teacher (not mine, I’d already passed her grade when she arrived) who founded the Thespian Club at my elementary school. The what? From her I learned that I wasn’t just an annoying, pushy kid. I was a Thespian. She handed out play books at the first meeting, and I’m like, “What? You can just…buy these things? I don’t have to write or co-write every single play?!”

And apparently this thespian movement was happening all over the place. My Mom took me to see a play at a nearby middle school. We sat in folding metal chairs in the gym. The house lights went down, chatter gave way to hushed anticipation, the curtain went up (or perhaps parted; I don’t recall) and onto the stage walked Jessica S. She blew my little pre-teen mind. I couldn’t tell you the play or how many other actors were in it, though I’m sure they did a fine job.  I just knew that she took acting to a new level. She became her character. It was thrilling.

While recording a piece last week in my quiet little office in my enchanted cottage in the forest, I thought how weird are you, Viv? Why are you shivering with excitement? Why does it feel like your hair is standing on end? Writing and producing still thrill me. And shouldn’t we pay attention to the things that thrill us? Couldn’t we think of thrills and shivers as a sort of navigational system? 

Theater isn’t out of my system, apparently. If you’re a friend of mine, and you see me coming toward you with a papier-mâché costume, trust me. We’ll figure the end out when we get there. 

Press play to hear Providence Flashed Me.

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