Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Afternoon with Hope

This afternoon, we caught the matinee performance of the new musical Little House on the Prairie at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. A wonderful production, and one that is sure to hit Broadway in the next year or two.

Although the show has Melissa Gilbert as Ma Ingalls, it was about as far as could be from the old TV show.  Fast moving, great songs, great cast, wonderful story arc as the Ingalls girls learn responsibility to themselves and each other in the harsh homestead days.

For those looking for a glimpse into why fly over country is what it is today, I can think of no better way to do so than to watch this production. 

For the early settlers, risking everything they had (and everyone they loved) for a chance to make something their own. Overcoming hardships, many dreams were lost along the way. 

However, these fiercely independent people never lost their hope for a better life for themselves and their children. They also knew that hope is manifested in active doing, not passive waiting. Those who risked all to come west were those who believed more in their hope for the future than their fear of the present. They succeeded far beyond what they would have ever imagined in their lifetimes.

A wonderful musical.  Highly recommended.

The show was also the first our family had attended in the new Guthrie Theatre.  For those who haven't visited the new facilities, they are a profound statement of our community commitment to bring compelling live performance experiences to audiences of all ages and sophistication. 

Walking through the facility, one gets the sense that it also represents a generational commitment based on hope for what will be. As I walked through the complex with my daughters, I have no doubt that they and the other children there will someday walk through this same building with their grandchildren, sharing the magic that can only come from real people creating new worlds to share with a live audience. The building itself was the embodiment of the community's hope for the future over fear.

As we walked along the Endless Bridge, reaching for (but not quite reaching) the Mississippi River, I saw for the first time the new 35W bridge, recently opened after last year's devastating bridge collapse. A little over a year ago, I had been driving through downtown Minneapolis with my family within a mile or two of the bridge when it collapsed. When my parents first called, I thought they were joking. The pictures on the TV were a sight that I never thought I would see, and hope to never see again.

Now barely a year later, a new gleaming bridge was teaming with life on a Sunday afternoon.  After years of neglect (and perhaps incompetence) and pointless tragedy, we had rebuilt and embraced a New Day. I can only hope that our nation will choose to do the same.

The choice between fear of the present and hope for the future is the story behind the story of all pivotal moments in our history.  It is also the central crucible of our times. As a father, for me there only is one choice.

On this Sunday afternoon, I'm very glad that my daughters were able to enjoy Little House and see part of that story, and I'm grateful for a community that believes so much in itself to build something as enduring and extraordinary as the new Guthrie. 

Alas, I am also saddened that the choice between fear and hope is becoming so stark with 30 days left before the election. As the political temperatures rise and the smears fly, that sadness is tempered by an excitement beyond words that our collective choice on November 4 will signal a definitive New Day.

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