THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
Written by Bert Plomp
Another beloved activity indoors was creating projects for the annual school exhibition. Making such a project required working together with a few classmates. My friend Joop and I once submitted a plane and a ship.
However, what we enjoyed the most was practicing for the school play.
For the Christmas celebration, just before the start of the Christmas break, each class was asked to come up with their own play and perform it during the event.
For rehearsals, we relied on a spacious house. Joop’s parents had a “family home”: an independent dwelling suitable for an average-sized family.
Joop’s father was a teacher, and his mother was part of an amateur theater group. They were always eager to encourage our creativity and open their home for it. We had full freedom on the attic floor of their property. We were allowed to remodel the entire attic and use all the items and clothing stored there as we pleased.
We directed the plays ourselves, or at least what passed for plays. Rehearsal sessions usually ended in a massive mess. Joop’s parents’ clothes, including the lady of the house’s lingerie, were scattered all over the attic.
Joop’s mother, a lovely woman, observed it all with a smile. She must have had a lot of patience with us because the theater group never encountered a closed door at her place.
Once, I took full control of the direction. Inspired by my pious parents and the endless biblical texts they had poured over my head for years, I directed the play “The Lord is My Shepherd.”
Considering the timing of the performance, the Christmas celebration, I thought it fitting to come up with an uplifting piece. Something the children could draw Christian courage from right before the holiday. After all, my public school didn’t pay much attention to the Lord’s doings. The play had to be short and powerful. To ensure the right tone, I assigned myself the lead role.
The idea for this drama came to me when I found a large, blue tarp and a big trunk on Joop’s attic. I also found an old, long, green coat and a sturdy stick. With these props in mind, the thought of Matthew 8:23-27 came to me. The image of Jesus fearlessly walking on the Sea of Galilee while his disciples, seated in a boat, anxiously followed his steps.
The tarp could represent a water surface, and the trunk, a boat.
I decided that an actor should take a position on each corner of the tarp to move it up and down. This would create the illusion of waves. At the same time, these actors would have to blow with all their might to simulate a strong wind.
Furthermore, I envisioned the rest of the group cramming into the trunk as much as possible, portraying Jesus’ disciples. Those who couldn’t fit in the boat would have to stand at the edges of the tarp and help blow and pull on it with all their strength.
As I, the good Shepherd, appeared on stage and fearlessly walked onto the lake, my idea was to have the passengers sing Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd” with all their hearts.
While they sang, I would confidently approach the boat and call out to the fearful disciples, “Take it easy, it’s me, you don’t have to be afraid.”
Immediately after uttering this soothing line, the curtain would fall.
During the final performance, on my way to the boat, I briefly considered the idea of putting the audience, including my theater company, on the wrong foot. By calling out to the sailors: “Be at peace, my child, I am the good Saint.” But I thought better of it. I did not want to incur the wrath of the Lord by publicly mocking Him, so close to the celebration of His birthday. With my head held high, I walked towards the boat. The tension among the spectators was palpable. Loudly sung by my disciples with “The Lord is my Shepherd,” I noticed that I was experiencing an erection for the first time in my life. I was only 12 years old. Fortunately, I was wearing a loose-fitting, long coat. When I had reached the boat and turned to the disciples with the comforting words: “Don’t worry, it’s me,” my presentation was rudely interrupted by loud farts that rang out over the Sea of Galilee. These farts came from the corner of the windmakers. Apparently, the expulsion of air had played a trick on a number of blowers. Air of inferior quality had sought and found another valve. The atmosphere was spoiled. Both in terms of ambiance and in terms of smell.
The tense atmosphere in the hall immediately turned into booming laughter. The crowd behind me was doubled over with laughter. I didn’t know how quickly I had to disappear behind the curtains. There was no trace of my first erection to be seen. While I was out of sight, the laughter in the hall continued and finally turned into loud applause. My temporarily assumed name was loudly chanted. When I dared to go back on stage, I was given a standing ovation. Then I felt something rise in my groin again. What was supposed to be a performance of an impressive drama turned into a display of a vulgar farce.
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