The Real Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Some of you know the book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever . Well, let me tell you about “The Real Best Christmas Pageant Ever!” And don’t stop reading if you’re not a Christian – just as Greenwich Chaplaincy transcends religious differences and ministers to all traditions, so this story speaks to the best in our common humanity.
The story begins with Chaplain Andrea Mueller creating a three-act reader’s theater script that featured nursing home residents playing almost all the nativity story roles. Casting is always critical, but especially in a nursing home. Kay, a relatively new resident, was the obvious choice for Mary. She was articulate and enthusiastic, and had extensive experience in theater productions. But Andrea got more than she bargained for – Kay immediately wanted to know the date of the rehearsal. Suddenly a rehearsal date materialized.
People live in nursing homes because generally means a lack of strength and energy. In the rehearsal room filled with wheelchairs and walkers, it was no different. Chaplains adjust their expectations accordingly – but not Kay. After a feeble – but not unexpected – readthrough, Andrea casually asked Kay her opinion as an experienced director. A beat of time passed, and then the world changed. “IT WAS GOD-AWFUL!!! People! I could not hear you! You have to enunciate clearly and loudly! This is IMPORTANT! We are doing this for our fellow residents!”
What happened next felt miraculous. The residents in the room, who, like most of us, were hard working and accomplished in their fields, delivered their lines with energy and focus, and continued to do so on the day of the performance - with one exception. Between the rehearsal and the performance, the resident portraying Joseph had a serious downturn, but insisted on performing. As he struggled to read his lines, Kay, our Mary, gently patted his hand.
Less than a month later, without warning, Kay died.
What is Greenwich Chaplaincy really about? We are about bringing joy and encouragement to people who are enduring great struggles – journeying with residents, their families and caregivers on their very challenging road.