By Jim Hatherly
Sydney is worried at the prospect of losing his job, and can't face the thought of a Thanksgiving service.
Matthew 6: 25-33
Lucy, Sydney (married couple) a
Jennifer (six-year-old granddaughter)
(Scene: a living room. Sydney is sitting in his chair, tie hanging undone around his neck, his head in his hands. Lucy enters, oblivious to Sydney's posture, and is joyful, excited and preoccupied with getting things organized. She comes in singing a verse of "Now thank we all our God" (or some obvious thanksgiving hymnů)
Lucy: "Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices..." Come on, honey. It's Thanksgiving Sunday. We're running late for church. The kids are coming to pick us up. Jennifer's coming. Our own little granddaughter. Yes, the whole family together. In church. On Thanksgiving. Yes, it is all just so - right! (stops, looks more closely at Sydney) Whoa, Lucy. Stop the train. Honey, are you alright? You seem worried about something. What's happened?
Sydney: Nothing. Really. It will pass, I'm sure. I don't need to trouble you with it. Look, why don't you and the kids just go on to church ahead of me. I'll catch up later.
Lucy: My dear, we have been married for thirty-two years. I am not a fool. I know when you are troubled. Come straight with me, Sydney! What is it?
Sydney: I'm embarrassed to tell you, Lucy. Look, just let it go.
Lucy: I can't just let it go, because it's obviously not letting you go. Now come on...
Sydney: Alright. OK. Lucy, this is a terrible thing to have to say on a Thanksgiving morning. I don't want to spoil it for you.
Lucy: Stop stalling. What is the matter?
Sydney: I think I may lose my job.
Lucy: How long have you known this, Sydney? You've never said anything about this before.
Sydney: Since last week. The manager brought us in to her office, the whole staff. Video rentals are down. There's some new DVD thingy coming in. We're just a small store. We can't compete with the big guys down the street. All these fancy promotions and gimmicks to get people in the door. No customer loyalty. Yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, cuts are coming. We don't know who, or when. All we know is, sort of, why.
Lucy: I can see why you would be upset, love. That's hard news. Though I know you could get a new job just like that. You know your stock, old boy. You've seen every movie produced since - since, well, since movies were produced.
Sydney: Please don't call me 'old boy'. It's too close to how I feel.
Lucy: Sorry, my love. Let's talk about it later, though. The kids should be here soon, and you don't have your tie on.
Sydney: I don't want to go to church this morning, Lucy. It's this thanksgiving thing.
Lucy: What about this 'thanksgiving thing'? What offends you?
Sydney: It's not offence. It's perspective, Lucy. I can see it now. The church decorated with pumpkins and corn stocks and whatnot. And the minister's going to get up and read that thing Jesus said about not worrying. "Look," she will say. I can just hear her. "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather, and yet God feeds them. Consider the lilies of the field. Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" Jesus did not work in a video store, I can tell you that! And he never had heating bills to pay, or a mortgage, or car payments, or kids to send to university.
Lucy: Who are you mad at, Sydney? Jesus or your boss?
Sydney: Neither, I suppose. Myself, I guess, for letting it bother me so much.
Lucy: Sydney, I think you are depressed!
Sydney: Nope. Just philosophical. If I lose my job, then I'll get depressed. For now, I'm just trying to make sense of it all.
Lucy: So, tell me, O philosophical one, what is going through your mind?
Lucy: Sydney, you're mumbling. Speak up, dear.
Sydney: I said, "Hakunamatata." I wonder if that's what I really should be doing. If that's how I should feel. Actually, I wonder if that's what Jesus meant when he told us not to worry.
Lucy: You better help me on this one. It's hard enough to understand Jesus sometimes, but this - how do you say it? Hakunamanana?
Sydney: Hakunamatata. It's from that movie, Lucy. The one with the lion who gets lost after escaping from all his troubles back home. He gets rescued by this wart hog and a meercat. They bring him back to health, feed him, comfort him and teach him to play in the jungle with them.
Lucy: I'm so glad you watch a lot of videos. It makes our life so full and rich. Yes, Sydney, I do remember the movie.
Sydney: It's a really good movie. One of the best. Anyway, the animals teach the young lion this word. Hakunamatata. It means no worries, for the rest of your days. A problem free philosophy. Is that the sermon on the mount? Don't worry about anything? Just hang around. Have fun. Play all the time. Don't take responsibility for anything or anyone else? Because, if that's the way to go, then I know lots of people who live that way. The bars are full of them. Maybe they're running away from something, or trying to find something to fill a hole in their lives, but when I see them shuffle into the video store for movies for the weekend, they sure sound happy. They snap up all these escapist movies, with good looking women, handsome men, and happy endings. They think the world is like that. Happy endings. They try to live like that themselves. Like that song, you know. "Don't worry. Be happy." Am I naive, Lucy? Have I been deluding myself all these years, making my life more complicated than it needs to be? Should I just do what it seems so many are doing? Stop worrying. Just like that. Be happy. Just pop some happiness into the VCR?
Lucy: I doubt it, Sydney. If I remember the movie, the young lion outgrows his Hakunamatata. And so do his friends. The lion has to go back to the world he ran away from. He absolutely has to. And it is a troublesome world he goes back to. Lonely and scary sometimes. And he has to come to grips with his past, and face his future. And his friends come with him. He is not alone in the world. He has support.
Sydney: But he leaves his Hakunamatata behind. He loses it.
Lucy: Does he? Or does he not find it again? He does, Sydney. It's not like the one he left in the jungle, without a care in the world. He finds a new one. And it's deeper and stronger than the first one.
Sydney: He does?
Lucy: He gets married, they have a baby. And there is joy in the land. But he never gets to that point without going through all the struggles. And neither can you. And neither did Jesus.
Sydney: I guess you're right. But why do you think Jesus said all those nice things about nature - you know, the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, if he knew he would have a hard time in his life? Don't you think he would have been preaching about watching out for yourself, protecting yourself, keeping your head down? I mean, the guy got himself killed for his troubles. He shouldn't have been saying, "Don't worry." He should have said, "Worry!", with a capital W.
Lucy: Because he was Jesus and you are Sydney. I don't think Jesus was naive. He certainly never got lost playing around in the jungle and avoiding the challenges of life. But I do think he had this incredible sense of joy in his life. He saw suffering all around him. Every day of his life. And he came to help people with their suffering. Even to suffer with them. But he never stopped noticing the flowers, or the birds. He never stopped giving thanks.
Sydney: You know something, Lucy? This helps. It really does. (pause) Say, listen, I think the kids are here. I heard a car drive up.
Lucy (looking out the window): You're right. It's them. And look, there's Jennifer, coming out of the car. She's running up to the door. Hold on, let me open it for her. She has something in her hands.
(Lucy goes to door, opens it, Jennifer enters, holding a bird's nest. She walks straight to Sydney.)
Sydney: There's grandpa's girl. My, you look lovely this morning, my young princess. And what have you got there?
Jennifer: It's a bird's nest, grandpa. I found it this morning. When I was outside waiting for mommy and daddy to get ready for church. It fell out of the tree in our back yard.
Lucy: I hope there were no eggs in it, dear.
Jennifer: Grandma, the eggs are there in the spring. Didn't you know that?
Sydney: We're all still learning, Jennifer. Say, what are you going to do with it?
Jennifer: I'm taking it to church with me. And I'm going to put it on the offering plate.
Lucy: Don't you want to keep it, honey? It's a wonderful thing.
Jennifer: No. I don't think so. I would just worry about it too much. I think, God made the birds. The birds made the nest. Let God have the nest back. What do you think, grandpa?
Sydney: I think you are a blessing, Jennifer. A blessing from God. Let's go, everyone.
(Jennifer runs to the door. Sydney and Lucy stay behind a moment, looking at each other.)
Lucy: Hakunamatata, Sydney?
Sydney: Nope. Just - thanks be to God!
Copoyright Jim Hatherly
This play is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike license. Some rights are reserved. For the full license visit visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ca/. A donation of equivalent to $10.00 Cdn. to the United Church of Canada Mission and Service Fund for use of this work is suggested. Please visit www.united-church.ca/msfund"