My experience as Mary in the Feast of Lights…
Chapel photo courtesy of Sophia Ohanian
You feel as if you are standing on top of the world but actually you are standing on a giant wooden platform overlooking a sea of people. You look below and see your friends playing in the orchestra and singing in the choir. You look up slowly to see a giant blackness where the audience should be (and you know your mother is out there somewhere beaming from ear to ear). You try not to think about the height at which you stand above the orchestra or the fact that you might just be scared of heights. You draw a big breath and let it go very slowly to calm your nerves as you begin your performance.
You look down at the conductor. Once the music begins, your worries seem to fade. The beauty of the music is overpowering and somehow it calms your nerves. You smile as you hear the music building, see your friends singing and you actually catch a pleased smirk from the famed, Dr. Nicholle Andrews. Before you know it, the piece is over and Mary proceeds back to her place next to the manger.
Every year, the University of Redlands School of Music orchestrates a fabulous production of “scripture, poetry, music and drama.” The Feast of Lights features the University’s choirs, orchestra and tableau – the holy family in costume acting to the scripture. In my opinion, the Christmas season has not begun till our four night performances of the Feast of Lights. For the last three years, I have had the privilege of performing the part of Mary (yes, the mother of Jesus) along side my friends in the School of Music. My job is fairly simple – to just act out the music that is sung.
There is something magical about the Feast of Lights every year. It could be the music, the singing, the smell of the evergreens or just simply performing next to your best friends. For three years, I have performed the part of Mary along side my friends and last night was my last performance. It was bittersweet.
Knowing that all of our hard work paid off through four fabulous productions was rewarding but knowing it was my last time on stage put me into a silent reflection. These last three years playing the part of Mary has been beautiful and enjoyable. I remember my first performance, I was so nervous I was shaking. However, the jokes and smiles that were made will forever make this experience a special part of my life.
Next year, I plan to visit the Feast of Lights celebration as an audience member, and I hope you will do so also. Nothing begins the Christmas season like the Feast of Lights, and I have never been more proud to have been a part of an event that is 66 years in the making.
It was beautiful, and I am proud to say that I have done it.