The thoughts that pass through one's mind at a time like this (along with a flash of one's entire life) are interesting. The phrase "laid an egg" suddenly made sense to me. Trying to get the right words out was at least that painful. "Dying on stage" also took on new meaning. I remembered that Saint Genesius is the patron saint of actors. He, however, appears to have been weekending in New York and was probably taking in something on Broadway. Suddenly from the wings I heard our patient and faithful stage manager whisper the key word that I was looking for. She had been sitting just behind the curtain for four performances, running down the batteries on three pen flashlights as she followed every word of every actor on stage. She didn't look up and watch the show. She just read the same words night after night, one by one, waiting to throw a life preserver to the poor sinking soul who needed it. Last night I caught it. The entire pause didn't really last for more than five seconds, and the majority of the audience didn't realize what was going on. We figured that out a long time ago, which is why they never hand you a script when you enter a theater.
A lesson in humility, it also reminded me how important it is to listen for the quiet whispers in our lives. They're there. We just prefer to tune in to the roaring applause (when it comes). But making a space for the quiet whispers has guided me through more than theater. In the way the leaves "speak" when the wind passes through, the calming, rhythmic pulsing of the ocean waves as we near the shore, much is "whispered" to us that is meaningful and important. But for last night the quiet whisper of my stage manager/guardian angel was like a symphony ringing in my ears. She didn't get to stand on the stage and bow with the rest of us, which doesn't seem fair considering how many other things she has done to make this performance happen, from serving drinks to running props to wiping tables. So, Paula Sullivan, quiet hero and patient friend, this is my standing ovation for you. And I am so glad you will be there for today's closing matinee!