It has taken me several weeks to collect the thoughts in my head for this post, so here goes.
On Sunday, January 25, 2009 my wife Denise and I were driving back from EduCon 2.1.On the way home, my cell rang. It was a call from a colleague giving us some very sad and tragic news. One of our grads, John Williamson ’05 had just lost his life in a car accident. John was also very close to us as he was in our theatre program, having been in many shows and also having played Ebenezzer Scrooge in A CHRISTMAS CAROL and jesus in GODSPELL.
As teachers, we never want to see our students go before we do. This was stunning news and made the ride home a very quiet one.
The week began, and I found myself in an uncharacteristic fog. We are working on yet another show and the memories of John were right in front of us.
On Tuesday, I received a call from John’s older brother Dan, also a grad and a theatre grad. He called to ask if our choir, the choir that both he and John were active members of, could sing during the viewing at the Church. I immediately said of course, He also asked if it would be OK if some of the grads of the choir could join us. I said that would be great.
So I contacted a few grads and asked them to spread the word. So that’s where facebook comes in. They spread the word. Students came home from college, came home from their jobs, and came to sing. JOhn’s family encouraged us to sing wit the energy that we usually do and we did. We started quietly, then did some Godspell and a song called “God Bless Us Everyone” from A Christmas carol. A little Broadway in a Church and it was so right.
To see these kids, our current students and our grads, sharing their talents, and their grief was incredible. The ties that bind were so evident. I am personally so grateful to them for bringing what they did to this sad occasion.
Flash forward to Ash Wednesday and the Gospel. I am on stage with the choir, standing listening to the Gospel. It is from Matthew, the Gospel on which Godspell is based. It was Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18. Here is a section of it:
“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
And I stood there and it hit me. In my head I heard John saying, instead of “repay you” he would lead the cast in “He will reward you!” And Ash Wednesday, February 25 would have been John’s 22nd birthday.
We miss you John. Long Live God.