On the way to Starbucks, I noticed something in a store window that stopped me in my tracks.
Displayed were two posters, each advertising an upcoming event. One poster was advertising a production of the musical Hair, the other, Godspell.
My first thought was this. What synchronicity - my two favorite musicals are in revival and in production here in Palm Beach County!
My second thought was less pleasant. How is it that these vibrant, modern, hip musicals are old enough to be in revival? The answer is obvious. I’m older too.
I love musical theatre. For a brief moment, I was a theatre major in college. What I learned was talent isn’t something you can get from studying. I could pass the tests, but my singing, dancing and acting remained unremarkable.
Of all the shows I loved as a young person, Hair and Godspell were not only my favorites; they were formative. The person I am today was shaped in part by my frequent and repeated exposure to these two works of musical drama.
With my church youth choir, I performed songs from Godspell. Hair was the source for my Senior High School yearbook quote.
As a teen and a young adult, I saw every production of these shows I could find.
Godspell influenced my spiritual values, while Hair influenced my political values. Sadly, they probably both influenced my questionable taste in fashion, even to this day.
When I was still a teenager, I purchased a wall decoration from a thrift shop. It was an advertisement for Hair decoupaged onto a piece of wood. The image included a tarot card – The Lovers, from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. This was long before I ever envisioned owning a tarot deck myself.
My yearbook quote was from the song “The Flesh Failures.” I chose these words to immortalize my years in High School.
“Facing a dying nation of moving paper fantasy.
Listening for the new-told lies with supreme visions of lonely tunes.
Somewhere inside something there is a rush of greatness.
Who knows what stands in front of our lives?”
“The Flesh Failures” itself ends on an upbeat note as it segues into the show’s finale number “Let the Sun Shine In.”
As I think about what this synchronicity might mean (there are no coincidences) I remember one of my favorite songs from Godspell, “Light of the World.” That song always reminds me of the Sun card, Major Arcana 19, in tarot. It’s taken from the book of Matthew, as is all of Godspell.
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. -Matthew 5:14-16
When we performed the song in church we had to change some of the lyrics. “We all need help to feel fine – let’s have some wine!” became “We all need help to feel great – let’s celebrate!”
The Godspell song “Light of the World” has a similar quality to that famous song from Hair, “Let the Sun Shine In.” Both could easily be associated with the tarot Sun that commands us to live in the light, and let our light shine.
The word “revival” has a number of different meanings. One tarot card that could claim it as a key word is the card that follows the Sun, card 20, Judgment.
As I look at these two powerful cards, the Sun and Judgment, I understand the message I need to take away from the synchronicity of these two posters.
I probably won’t see either show this time around. It’s a busy time of year, and, well, I know how they end. These shows live in my heart every day – no revival cast could probably do them justice for me.
The message for me is about personal revival. It’s a new year. I’m older – a lot older than I was when these shows first touched my life. But I am reminded that each day is a new day, with new hope, new promise, and new possibilities.
The gift of revival can only come after the passage of time.
To learn from the past and live in the now is a careful balance, and one that brings a sense of clarity, satisfaction and peace.
I think there is a greater message here, too, about the state of the world. We all know these are troubled times. There are economic difficulties, diplomatic difficulties and civil unrest everywhere. Yet these two musicals that offer a hopeful, joyous view of the world are enjoying a revival, just at the time when the world needs their message most.
Maybe, despite the politicians, the pundits, and the greed and corruption that plague us, we are all ready to let the sun shine in, and to be the light of the world.