After five years as a stage manager, tech crew member and bit actor, my big break came. The long time musical director of the summer theater decided to take a summer off and asked me to direct that summer's musical, the off-Broadway play,"Godspell."
The boy child was barely 3-years-old and had just begun to speak in complete sentences when he began attending the rehearsals. He insisted upon staying in the theater where he could watch these never-ending theatrical practices. This arrangement seemed to go OK until we all began to realize that this little, human sponge was actually memorizing the entire play.
The next door neighbor was a Methodist minister, and he was about to be shocked and amazed. The boy's obsession with "Godspell" did not end at the theater. A few days after returning home, he found two popsicle sticks and some Elmer's glue and began making crosses. Eventually there were lots and lots of crosses, and there were never enough popsicles.
Then, he vanished one day, and following a frantic search to find him, I went to the minister's house, and the reverend's wife looked quizzically at me and said, "Nicky just sold us a cross for a nickel." This was not the first time the kid was hustling the neighborhood for money. In fact, he had gone door to door that spring trying to sell used magazines for two cents apiece.
I finally caught up with him three houses and 25 cents later, but the cross building addiction didn't end there. It began to escalate as he discovered new building materials in very interesting places. The culmination of his efforts occurred one day when he crawled under the front porch, pulled out two, 12-foot long porch boards and tied them together with kite string. In fact, he was dragging that 12 foot long cross up the preacher's driveway as the parsonage car was pulling in that afternoon. I'm sure it made a life-long impression on that unfortunate, holy man and his wife when they saw a two and a half foot high kid in shorts and a T- shirt dragging a 12-foot long cross up the concrete slabs, a virtual ONE KID Passion Play.
The most memorable event, however, occurred late in August when the little guy was playing on the sun porch. At the exact moment of Rev. Barker's arrival, the 3-year-old began to yell in his deepest theatrical voice, "Crucify him! Crucify him. Crucify the King of the Jews!" It seemed as if all time as stopped as the preacher froze in his tracks and began looking toward the sky. "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," the little guy screamed at the top of his voice.
It was only a few months after that incident that the reverend and his wife moved away. Actually neither he nor his wife were ever heard from again, ever. At about the same time, the boy continued his religious journey by gathering all of his friends in the back yard for a service for his deceased guinea pig. They stood around a little grave and began reciting prayers that were being spouted from the boy's memory, in Hebrew!
There are many things that a parent can forget when you're raising kids, but this will never be one of them. What an amazing education everyone had that summer from one small boy with a sponge for a brain. Ironically, to this day, he can still recite the prayers and the songs. Some things learned young are almost impossible to forget. Amen.
(Nick Jacobs, Windber, international director for SunStone Consulting, LLC is the author of the blog Healinghospitals.com.)