On Saturday some little girls (my two eldest) and some big girls (me and my mum) caught the bus into town, and walked to the Opera House. A sparkly winter day, cold in the shadow of office buildings, bright and hot along the edge of the harbour. And we saw a play, a short beautiful lyrical clever tender play. There were two actors, shadow puppets, miniature figures, humour, a lot of energy, and gentle observations of life, living and death.
Miss Ophelia, a Het Filiaal production
MIss Ophelia, an old lady who can only whisper, becomes the secret “go-to” person for desperate, unattached shadows. The kindness she shows by letting these shadows hide in her brown handbag reaps its own wonderful rewards. The quiet lady who loves theatre but has no voice for the stage, becomes famous after all.
And finally…Miss Ophelia sees the shadow of death. She finds herself in a different, wonderful place. The shadows are there to welcome her. In fact, they are no longer shadows, but beautiful shining things. Miss Ophelia is dancing with them!
This play is based on a German children’s book, not currently available in English translation. It’s so rare to find children’s stories that deal with the afterlife, that move beyond a “happily ever after”. No-one, of course, has a happily ever after, not even those born into royalty. The beauty of this story is its baptism of an ordinary quiet life, and the realisation that death cannot take away that life’s meaning- in fact death allows Miss Ophelia to enter another reality and truly come into her own.
At the end of the play my girls queued up to receive their special craft kit (a brown handbag / shadow theatre), and I was crying. Tears of sadness and joy… at a real person, a friend, who has recently travelled on past death and on to another place.
This video was played on Friday, at my friend Rebecca’s funeral. Rebecca is missed by her husband and two little girls, and by so many others who enjoyed her kind and generous spirit. But there is no doubt that her life was baptised by God: it was full of joy, and full of the certainty of God’s goodness, even when she was in the grip of a painful disease.