Monday, June 20, 2011

Taming of the Crowds...

One of my favorite events marking summer in St. Louis is attending the free Shakespeare in the Park production. The atmosphere of families with picnic dinners, lawn chairs, blankets, and watching strolling madrigal singers, fire twirlers, jugglers, and actors roaming the audience as they get "in character" make for a memorable evening.

Each year we marvel at the different approaches or "takes" directors have for retelling the Shakespeare stories. This year, for example, the director decided to use a 50's setting and costuming for TAMING OF THE SHREW, resulting in a fun evening for the 5000 folks gathered.

I especially enjoy these evenings because I, like my mother, am a people-watcher. Are you one, too? I used to get embarrassed when my mother watched people so much. She just enjoyed seeing all the different faces, attire, and interactions. I am now as bad as she was. It is pure entertainment for me.

Planting our lawn chairs I noted the different types of people gathered for this universal event. The families in their preppy, polo shirts and sandals with plaid knee-length shorts carrying the traditional wicker basket, fold-out table upon which they set their bottle of wine, glasses, assorted cheeses, and saran-wrapped sandwiches. I noticed one such mother even had even cut the crust off each sandwich. Then there were the more Bohemian members strolling in Birkenstocks, comfortable clothes resembling draped scarves, wildly blowing hair, arriving two minutes before performance thinking they would find a spot in the audience amid the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. I figured my family and I fell somewhere between the anal and abstract.

What does this have to do with God though? I was soaking in the perfect night. The breeze, setting sun, lack of humidity, birds singing, people laughing, and I saw it. There was the crowd-controller-guy. For him, tonight was far from perfect.

You see, his job was to keep people behind the lines marked off for walking aisles. There were little lights marking a pathway in the grass for once the sun set. His job was to make sure no lawn chairs or blankets went over the established, yet temporary lines.

Of course the closer the time came for the play to begin, the more people pushed the boundaries. Over and over, I watched him explain that folks putting their blankets and baskets down had to pick them up and move. As the routine continued I noticed the different reactions to him. Some were, "Oh, Sorry, O.K." While others became indignant and even angry.

I did not envy his job. I had had some very similar to his in my past. Being an arena usher at college concerts was a rude awakening at the abuse people could dish out.

I thought back to previous devotions about my own expectations. How would I have reacted? Would I have argued, pointing out there was plenty of room? Would I have walked away in a huff? Would I have expected to have been treated differently from others?

Or...would I have turned the other cheek, muttered a "sorry," and continued my search?

God tells us to show compassion to others. Jesus demonstrated compassion over and over again in the Bible and continues to do so today for His believers.

So I wonder, as others people-watch me, do they see Jesus?

How about you?

I pray they do for each of us.

For His Glory,

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