The first musical I ever saw was co-written by my father and one of his friends. My father starred as Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, and I was an extra dressed in my favorite pink frilly dress, plaits with ribbons, and patent leather Mary Janes. My acting debut involved one line, “Did Jesus make miracles?” I nailed it every night!
The musical presented a modern-day version of the birth of Jesus if it had happened in New York in the early ’80s. I studied the way he directed, teaching us to project and move freely around the pulpit-turned-stage. He worked masterfully with the cast so he could tell the best story. Our performance earned a standing ovation and my father earned my respect as a masterful storyteller.
Both of my parents gifted me with a love for creativity. My mother raced from work to drive my twin and me to tap-ballet-jazz class, choir rehearsal, practice for some play, and Girl Scouts. My father shared Saturday John Wayne sagas and his experimental creations in art and building stuff.
Once, my father built a clock out of a mirror panel. He cracked five panels before he found the right drill bit to make the center hole for the clock hands. I marveled at that clock for decades. We still connect through creativity… the stories.
People who write, enjoy music, theatre, and movies, or create things will always have a way to connect to others. Though my father can no longer move around like he used to, I love hearing his life stories in rural Texas, college life at Prairie View, Army life, or top-secret stories from his years in the Federal government. Some classified stories he still won’t talk about.
A renowned social scientist, Erik Erikson, who taught at Harvard and Yale, created a theory about how we develop socially. Erikson lived to the age of 91. In later years, he wrote about the importance of developing an interest in creative pursuits so that, when the aging body is not as reliable, we still have interests to connect us to others: music, reading, writing, and the arts. Erikson saw creativity as a bridge that keeps us feeling alive and engaged.
Creating must be important: it’s one of God’s first acts in the Bible. And there you have it; proof that God loves musicals! Well, not really. But I’m so grateful that my father passed it on.
Pam C. Dudley, MSW, LCSW is a writer, stage director, social worker, and CBT certified therapist pursuing the creative life in Corsicana, Texas. She is the owner of My Write Mind, PLLC Counseling Center now offering virtual therapy sessions. She is most passionate about sharing the love of Christ, helping people heal from hurts, and writing musicals! PamCDudley@gmail.com