Friends, I am going to miss worshiping with you today, but as some of you might know, I have been cast in a production which brings the stories of the past into the present. As a special treat, The Bennington Community Theater’s production of “Voices from the Grave,” left the stage and held its performance in the historic cemetery at Bennington Congregational Church. There are more than 2,000 people buried in the Vermont tourist destination — and many have amazing stories to tell. As I listened to my fellow thespians rehearse, I found myself riveted by their tales.
Of course, Bennington cemetery is the burial place of Robert Frost. So when then actor who told Frost’s story admitted his struggle for how to end his famous poem, “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” his wife, Elinor, who was a talented poet as well, suggested that he simply repeat the last line. And so it ends, “And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”
I had no idea that Elinor was responsible for that powerful closing on a poem I have adored for years! This production got me thinking not just about all the stories we do not know, but how important it is to hear stories from the grave, to tell our own stories and, most of all, to break open God’s word more and more and be reminded of the greatest story of all — the story of how God so loved this world.
And so, I am away from the farm this week, donning my 18th century cap and gown, and telling the story of Mary Tilden Dewey — a feisty mother of 11 children who baked 80 loaves of bread on the eve of the Battle of Bennington in 1777, and who tended to the injured afterwards. Dewey also boasted that if the enemy should come to her door, she would “boil up some hasty pudding and throw it in their royal faces.” Yes, I did enjoy delivering that line!
On this Sunday, while we might not be together worshiping, I ask you to take time to reflect on the power of storytelling and how learning something can enrich our lives. Perhaps start with exploring this day a story from the Bible that you liked as a child. Revisit it. Pray and ponder. What questions do you have? What new insights have you gained? I would love to hear what Bible story you revisited, and perhaps we will explore it together at the farm!
Till next week.
P.S. And I did something very brave for this production of “Voices from the Grave.” I performed without a stitch of makeup as the director requested for 18th-century authenticity. I usually swipe some mascara onto my blond eyelashes, but I did what the director said, and it was a freeing experience.