All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Shakespeare had it right—Carolyn R. Wilker
In his time, William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about the stage, but curiously, a thing or two about life as well. He wrote:
You may not think you’re on a stage, but really you are. While you might not be acting to earn your wages, people still watch what you do, how you behave.
Think of all the people who have been part of your life for a short or long time. Friends who seemed to disappear from your circle when they moved away or when life circumstances changed for one of you and you were no longer able to spend time together. Or a friend died and you seemed cut off from the family since you were merely a friend and not family. Many exits and entrances indeed.
A long-time friend died last January; she was younger than me by a year. I’ve known her since we were four or five years old. Maybe it helps that our parents are also long-time friends, but our friendship developed of its own accord. That was her entrance to my life and mine to hers.
I thought long and hard about her exit—too soon for me. She went to the hospital having been diagnosed with pneumonia. She thought she’d be in a few days and arranged for meals for her husband who’s disabled and older than her. But that’s not how things turned out.
My husband and I drove down the highway to the London hospital on a snowy winter day. I had asked permission to go and had a sense that I needed to be there. She couldn’t speak, we couldn’t hug, but I did have a brief moment, if that, to say her name and touch her gently on the shoulder. I was prepared to read a psalm, but there wasn’t enough time. In my heart I thought it was close to goodbye, but I couldn’t say it, even if she was the sickest of the patients in the Trauma Care unit.
We’d been in the room barely a moment when staff asked us to go to the waiting room. We would learn later that she went into cardiac arrest.
My friend’s life was a testimony to her faith. She was always reminding us of God in our lives. We often talked about the spiritual and our last conversation just after the New Year last January was no different. Still I wasn’t ready for her exit the end of that month. It was painful.
That’s when I addressed life as a stage play.
Enter left, exit right
or is it enter right, exit left?
Only it was all wrong;
you exited too soon
Your role ended
before our play was over
and we were powerless to stop it
Unaware of the gravity,
the rise in suspense
—an outcome we feared in Act IV—
that would drop the final curtain
or like a trap door in the theatre floor
that takes the actor out of the scene
the lines you were to say next
were never spoken
Even if I’m not ready to say good-bye to a loved one, God knows the pain in my heart. The place she—and others—have held there. It's real and not forgotten.
It is said that life is not a dress rehearsal. There’s no rewinding of stage time, only going forward. This season, while celebrating the gift of the Saviour, Jesus, consider your place on the stage and go forward in the knowledge of God’s grace. May he give you much peace and joy this season in the middle of wherever you find yourself.
Carolyn R. Wilker writes and edits from her home in southwestern Ontario. She was a speaker at December MoMondayGuelph. She is the author of Once Upon a Sandbox as well as devotionals, poetry and articles. She is also a writing instructor and storyteller.
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