A torture . . .

by gaytaylor



When I was a student at Taylor University I had a class in the basement of Sickler Hall, which served then as home to the Communication and Theatre Arts Department. The walls along the stairway were lined with black and white photographs of theatrical presentations stretching back into what seemed antiquity. One photo from the 60s was tagged with the title, The Fantasticks. It caught my attention. (OK, so maybe it was one of the men pictured in the photo who caught my eye.) I had no idea what the show was about, but I hoped I might see a production of it some day.

A few years back I finally had the opportunity. My husband and I attended a summer dinner theatre presentation of The Fantasticks. The college-age actors played to an audience of mostly graybeards and blue hairs. Poignant, to watch and listen as the sexy young man clad all in black, with a highwayman’s black mask, sang “Try to Remember” by Jerry Orbach.

Wrapping one hand around a wrought iron pole, the actor circled it with his lithe body and turned to face his aging audience. “Try to remember,” he crooned, “when life was so tender that love was an ember about to billow. Try to remember—and if you remember, follow.”

He concluded the song with this stanza:

Deep in December, it’s nice to remember; 

Although you know the snow will follow.

Deep in December, it’s nice to remember:

Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.

Deep in December, it’s nice to remember:

The fire of September that made us mellow.

Deep in December, our hearts should remember,

And follow.

I was very moved, Here was Youth—tall, willowy Youth with dark eyes and black hair—enjoining wintry Age to recall the fire of September, to remember what it was to feel the warming power of desire and love—and to follow.

Wisdom here: Desire is not automatically wrong, evil, sinful, shameful. We don’t have to fight it. Desire’s fire blazes and billows, teaches and informs. Leads. Even remembered desire warms, beckons, calls. Has a message for us still.

It’s up to us to follow.

+ = +

for reflection:

What’s your recent history with Desire?

for action (or, if you’re Catholic, penance):

Perform some small action today in response to the call of Desire. Doesn’t have to be anything big. Something that recognizes/honors the role of Desire in your life.

about the photo: From Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pandora Productions, 2009. Photo by Michael Taggart Photography at flickr. I know its not El Gallo, but its representational, ok?