Weekly Message from T. J.

Just a Moment

As some of you learned yesterday, I was feeling a little under the weather the past few days. I am feeling better today, which is wonderful. And one of the advantages of actually feeling under the weather is that I slow down a little. And in slowing down, I’ve learned in some ways to just give in when I am feeling ill. Times when I try to keep going even though I’m not feeling well result in much longer illnesses. So I just hunkered down and focused on taking care of myself.

On the advice of a friend, I began listening to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by occasional Hawaii visitor Robert Louis Stevenson. I must confess, I only thought I knew what this novella was about. Through grotesque characterizations of its story in other media, I figured I knew what I was in for, but I was wrong.

See, the novel formed the plot of a sensational musical called Jekyll and Hyde, which was really a pop opera of sorts, crowned with the soaring Frank Wildhorn anthem from its score: “This Is the Moment.” If you’re curious, this was the musical that David Hasselhoff starred in for a stretch on Broadway. And my interest in this musical was encouraged in high school by a close friend. We would play some of the score on night drives around town or to and from theater rehearsals. It made for good driving music.

The novella surprised me. Since I wasn’t feeling well already, the themes of illness struck a chord. But the surprise was the characterization of Mr. Hyde. Throughout so much of pop culture, Hyde is a monster, large and unwieldy. But in the novella he’s younger, stout, and possessing traits that are very human, if not basely so. His whims and passions are on the surface always and boil over in ways that are terrifying and violent at times.

And in the telling of the tale, it was hard not to remember a cold night in Western New York, when hanging out with my friend after rehearsal, maybe listening to “This Is the Moment,” and with the most tentative and gentle gesture, I received the surprise of the very first kiss from another guy in my life. It’s hard not to remember how much of a life a child tries to hide from those around them in those years: the very human (if not basely so) feelings a child fears might come out from within and tear a child’s life apart. It’s hard not to remember the safety of a moment, though, when whatever was hiding is held close and cared for, doing nothing at all to the world.

Lives change in moments. With small decisions, we direct the course of our lives in different directions. We may not feel the difference then. It’s only after the moment and years on that we notice we arrived somewhere we could not have imagined (like Hawaii). And so it might be wise to wonder today, or in the coming days whether this is the moment. Or is it this one? Because what you find in a moment can surprise you.

And may it ever be so,
Rev. T. J.

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