On Friday I had the pleasure of meeting up with a friend who no longer lives in Vancouver, but she and her husband make it a point to visit the city every so often. We were roommates in university in the early 80s, and stayed in touch through the years.
In light of the kind of year she had in 2015 (seven rounds of chemo treatments), it was really good to see her. I’m pretty sure in this case it was definitely art imitating life when, after dinner, we attended the opening night of Common Grace at the Pacific Theatre. The play, written by Shauna Johannesen, is about Colleen who returns home to BC for her father’s funeral. The entire story unfolds in the kitchen of Colleen’s childhood home, and watching the play brought back my memories of the tensions that arose when planning my dad’s funeral in 2011.
The cast was truly amazing. The interactions among family members and the visitors to their home during this difficult time were organic, very believable and inspiring. It made me realize that it might not be okay to have a meltdown or shout harsh words at someone, but it certainly seems to be “normal.” The family dynamic between Colleen (Shauna Johannesen) and her sisters (Miriam – Julie Lynn Mortensen; Alanna – Cara Cunningham) reveals how each of them feels about Colleen’s absence from the family during her father’s illness. The family dynamic between Colleen and her mother (Carol – Kerri Norris) is even more strained, for this and other reasons.
Ultimately, grace isn’t necessarily faith driven at all. But rather the way we’re willing to interact with one another on a daily basis. Which brings me back to spending the evening with my college friend. I told her she looked amazing, twice, because she did, but other than that I was at a loss for words. In the end, I gave up searching for the “right” things to say, and surrendered to enjoying an evening of food and theatre with a good friend.