Summer Stage #9, Saturday 23 July 2016–That’s Cyrano de Bergerac, the literary character, talking about his nose. Cyrano de Bergerac, the playwright, also had his literary character talk about an imaginative way he got to the moon.
In July1969, I studied a play based on de Bergerac’s writing. I was wrapping up studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, taking two drama courses. On July 20 that year Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins landed on the moon in Apollo II.
Cyrano de Bergerac’s misfortune was that he had a long nose. Not only did he think his appearance prevented him from winning the hand of Roxane, living up to his principles brought him a host of critics and enemies. Dashing and funny, Cyrano carried out satirical attacks on hypocrites in society. Tragically, he was able to reveal his love for Roxane only as he was dying after some who opposed him dropped a log on his head.
The play is based on a work by French novelist, playwright and duelist Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655). In 1897, another French playwright, Edmond Rostand, produced the play Cyrano de Bergerac, partially based on Bergerac’s work, setting it in the 1640s, the era of the swashbuckling hero such as is shown by the character Cyrano and also The Three Musketeers of that time.
One of de Bergerac’s works was A Voyage to the Moon. Here the playwright describes how Cyrano in the 17th century gets to the moon. He straps himself with glass vials that overnight fill with dew. As the sun draws the dew he flies to the moon. To come back to earth he discards some of the vials, landing in a strange land. That’s an imaginative journey to the moon, not?
Now, this is hard to believe. What took place 47 years ago in Apollo II rocketing to the moon is considered to be a hoax by 52 percent of 1,003 Brits, 18 and older. So reported the Daily Mail on Thursday. The majority of those surveyed believe that the Apollo moon landing was faked.
Conspiracy theorists can have their ideas, that’s fine, but I’m not buying. I saw the moon landing on TV and in large headlines in The Globe and Mail. So there. At the same time I was glad for the imagined journey that Cyrano de Bergerac took a number of times to and back from the moon.
Cyrano is a passionate love story, a comedy that’s also a heroic tragedy. Roxane gets the final word: “Far from this world of brutal lies is a land for lovers who despise the violence, weeping for the lost and lonely. A land for lovers, for lovers only.”
Ada and Ida Stoltzfus left God’s Light burning
I tried to skim the book, We Sat Where They Sat, the story of Ada and Ida Stoltzfus as told to Marie E. Cutman, (Masthof Press, Morgantown, PA, 1996). I could hardly put it down. The twin Stoltzfus sisters served with various sponsors in Hebron and other areas west of the Jordan River. From 1952 until 1989 they gave their hearts, minds and strength to Arab children and their families. They started milk feeding stations and added an orphanage and residential school for boys.
Conflicts that arose from the partition of Palestine meant the sisters and their staff had to add curfews, strikes, bombings, retaliations, and counter retaliations to the toll drought, cold, and destitution took on their ministry. Food, clothing, medicine, employment were all needed. How to address these needs called for wisdom, persistence, and faith. Ideas for solutions came quickly, they wrote, “It stretched our creativity and frequently we had to drop what we considered was a good idea and look for something else that would fit into the culture and country.”
I visited the school in 1970 or ’71. I remember being impressed on that study tour with how much good was happening behind the scenes that made for God’s way of peace, reconciliation and goodness to all. The same is true today. We’re not asked to join the conflicts of today with hopelessness and resignation, but with wisdom, persistence and faith that God is redeeming the world. The brightness of heaven radiates among and from God’s people.
May flies return, but only for a fleeting moment
From the classic car show in downtown Elkhart
Renovation blessing at Prairie Street Mennonite Church, 17 July
Saturday scenes at breakfast
Watch out for vials of dew. And sceptics spinning in their own orbits. Consider how in your day-to-day interactions you can build a better world. You’ve got a nose for it.