I’m Going Back to Bed: An Anti-Resurrection Play in One Act

Image credit: Kymberly Janisch CC, Apollo Theater, Harlem, New York, 2009.

I will admit that I am still struggling to get it completed. I’m frankly not quite sure how to write a piece on resurrection at this moment in time.

The audio is a transcript of the written piece recorded by Kerr Mesner for Geez Out Loud.

Geez Out Loud · I’m Going Back to Bed: An Anti-Resurrection Play in One Act by Kerr Mesner, Geez 60: Signs of Dawn

Act I
Curtain rises to a stage, sparsely set, in low light. Downstage centre, we see a large blue recliner chair, with a small side table holding an assortment of books and a glass of water. An additional wooden chair is on the other side of the table. Kerr is seated in the recliner, his face lit by the flickering glow of the laptop screen. As the lights rise to full light, so does the sound level, and we can hear a newscaster’s voiceover.
NEWSCASTER: Capitol police are slowly beginning to contain the protesters but movement is slow. At this time, we do not know when or if the election certification will resume. And now we take you to . . .
Kerr hits the mute button and the voice abruptly ends. He sighs deeply, shakes his head, and shifts position a bit.
KERR: Okay . . . stay on task, Kerr.
Typing as he composes the email out loud.
Dear Lydia . . . thank you for the extension for this piece. I will admit that I am still struggling to get it completed. I’m frankly not quite sure how to write a piece on resurrection at this moment in time. It runs the risk of feeling cheap, saccharine . . . like all these posts I’ve been reading where people ask us to come together across difference . . . without acknowledging whose bodies are getting steamrolled underneath the bridges we’re so eager to build.
He pauses, looks up for a moment, in thought.
Does that sound terrible, coming from a clergyperson?
He pauses again, closes the laptop in frustration, leans back fully in the recliner with another deeply audible sigh.
I am just so, so tired.
Spotlight narrows to focus only on Kerr, who takes off his glasses, rubs his eyes, keeps them closed for a moment, and then another, and then another. When the lights come back up to full, Parker Palmer is sitting in the empty chair. Kerr opens his eyes, sees Parker, and they calmly nod, acknowledging each other’s presence with that strange and mysterious logic that only arises in a dreamscape. Parker places a long blade of grass in the glass of water.
KERR: Parker . . . interesting. I’m sure I’m dreaming, but somehow this makes sense.
Actually hears his own words, bolts upright.
Oh, crap . . . I’m dreaming. I’m supposed to be writing that article right now . . . it’s due in a few days and Geez is going to run out of patience with me . . .
A long pause, during which Kerr makes sustained eye contact with Parker.
But I’m just so tired. Honestly, Parker, I don’t have it in me to write about resurrection right now. I’ve preached about it and theologized about it, but today . . . I just can’t. I just want to curl up under my weighted blanket, cat stretched out beside my head, and to try to catch up on about four years’ worth of sleep.
PARKER: “God asks us only to honour our created nature, which means our limits as well as potentials. When we fail to do so, reality happens – God happens – and way closes behind us.”
KERR: Yeah. You know, I’ve returned to those exact words so many times over the years. And yet once again, here I am, trying to push through. It’s not even really about the article at this point . . . it’s all the rest of it. The demands and the expectations I have of myself . . . the ways that I want to show up in the world . . . there’s so much that needs doing . . .
But I’m just. . . sighs . . . my soul is exhausted.
As Kerr once again closes his eyes, the spotlight again narrows focus to just the recliner. When the lights come up again to full, Parker has been replaced by John O’Donohue. Kerr sees John, and again, they acknowledge each other with a nod. John places a thistle in the glass of water. Again, with dreamscape logic, the conversation simply continues seamlessly.
KERR: You know, John, I’m not sure I would even know what to say about resurrection now. How to even talk about it, much less believe in it. Every time we think that this particular political story is wrapping up, there’s more. And then more. And then more again. I feel like I’ve got nothing left to give.
JOHN: “Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.
You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days . . .” *KERR: *I– I don’t even know how to rest, at this point. How to down-regulate. How to let the ground hold me again.
JOHN: “You have travelled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back . . . ”
Kerr sits up, starts to speak again, and John, gently, raises a hand to finish his thought. Kerr sits back, listening.
JOHN: “Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.”
Kerr listens, deeply; the particularly observant audience member might notice the lurking of tears. The spotlight again narrows focus. When the lights come back up to full, John has been replaced by Mary Oliver. Sensing her presence, Kerr looks up, and again, they wordlessly acknowledge one another. Mary places a feather in the glass of water.
KERR: Mary . . . you’ve been such a faithful companion to me over the years. I just . . . I just . . .
A long pause, as they look intently at one another.
I just can’t.
Another long, companionable silence passes between them. They make eye contact, slowly, deliberately. A breath. Then another.
MARY: “A silence in which another voice may speak.”
Kerr listens deeply and nods, really hearing. Spotlight again narrows focus to Kerr, and Mary disappears. There is a long stretch of silence, but it is a silence that is rich, full, and deep.
KERR: very slowly I’m listening . . . I’m listening. This . . . this is the ground. Deep rest. Reconnection with myself and with You. A long, reflective pause. Can resurrection be personal?
Kerr reclines back in the chair, closes his eyes, and sleeps. When full lights resume, they indicate the passage of time to a new day. Kerr sits up in the chair, rubs his eyes.
KERR: Now that._ He chuckles._ That was a dream.
He shakes his head, perhaps in wonder, perhaps in bemusement. Then puts his glasses back on. Picks up the long-neglected laptop, opens it, and begins to type, finding the words, reading aloud as he does so.
KERR: An Anti-Resurrection Play in One Act . . .
And then, he reaches for a sip of water, picks up the glass, and sees, in the glass, a blade of grass, a thistle, and a feather. As he – and we – consider this, the spotlight fades to black.

END

Kerr Mesner is a queer/trans spiritual director, facilitator, theatre performer, college professor, minister, and activist.

Issue 60

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 60, Spring 2021, Signs of Dawn.

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