Two volumes, one green and one red, nestled in their case and rested on the second shelf of the bookcase. These were among the first treasured books that were shared with me and read to me by my sister. One volume was Grimm and the other Anderson. Words, images, stories crept into my soul at a young age. She took me to Sage Library for my first library card, opening up the world at large through printed pages and what seemed like an unlimited number of books from my five year old point of view.
Stories were followed by music -West Side Story, Camelot, Man of LaMancha, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. She introduced me to all of these. Later, she introduced me to art. We share a love of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Winslow Homer’s Snap the Whip, John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark (don’t ask, who knows why) and Peto’s doors among many others. Helen took me to my first Broadway plays, 42nd Street and Sunday in the Park with George. Our seats were so close to the stage at the second play that we joked that Mandy Patinkin could spit on us. I have loved the play ever since. She influenced my teaching though I was never the stellar teacher that she was for over 40 years.
What does this have to do with Into the Woods? Or a Journey into the woods of our soul? Everything. Into the Woods, the Sondheim and Lapine play based on Grimm tales, was the first selection for God on Broadway this year. As I sat and listened to some selections and sang others yesterday I remembered one of the gifts my sister gave me – Broadway musicals, including this one. But I was also reminded that she is currently on her own journey into the woods. She has been ill and it will take time, will and hope for her to heal. I was reminded that the original Grimm tales are dark and full of human tragedy, not the Disney happily ever after versions society knows now. Life can be difficult. I hope she finds her way through the woods. I hope she knows that I have always watched and listened and that I have learned so much from her throughout my life.
I hope she knows that she won’t be entirely along on her journey. Many will be with her hoping for the best, because truly, No One is Alone.