Gratitude Never Grows Old

This post may seem a bit of a departure from the type typically seen here but for the season of the year we find ourselves in, I always find it good for the soul to reflect on just what thankfulness and gratitude really mean. Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers primarily for her ability to address something with perfect ease. This is no exception. 

Gratitude Never Grows Old

by Anne Lamott

Many years ago, I wrote that gratitude, not understanding, is the key to joy and equanimity. I think this holds up. Understanding has not proven to be all that useful very often. But gratitude, thankfulness, that sense of having been helped, saved, seen, enriched by life, a good person, a lucky break is magic.

When we feel it, or even walk with it for part of every day, gratitude is a magnetic energy that draws people to us, because it is the most wonderful and attractive emotions. When you are with someone who has developed the habit of gratitude, you SO want what they have. They are not grasping for more. They are savoring, shaking their heads slightly with the quietest wonder. Gratitude contains a heightened and amazed realization of how much goodness is marbled into our strange and sometimes hard, annoying lives. This catches us by surprise as if we are children, and a sudden breeze is playing with our spirits, as if with paper planes, lifting us, restoring our sense of buoyancy, where before there was the opposite — the worried, the trudge, endless calculations and scheming, numbness.

Gratitude tugs on our sleeves and says, “Wake up!” Look around at the kindness that surrounds us, the love we are being shown, the hope that now makes sense. Emily Dickinson wrote that “hope inspires the good to reveal itself,” and we can be taken aback by a sense of amazement at how much someone has shared with us, or even sacrificed, for us, for cranky, secretive, mealy-mouthed you, and me.

Wow, you think: what’s the catch? No catch. No other shoe to drop. God only has one shoe. However, if you want to hold on to this warm feeling, you have to give it away, by passing it along to others. If you want to have grateful loving feelings, which is what heaven is like, you need to do loving things and help others experience life’s capacity for goodness and maybe even grace. This generous person or these people, these new circumstances, this fortune, helps us feel blessed, helps us experience life as meaningful instead of random, hopeful instead of fraught. We get to feel deeply touched, instead of armored, alive again.

Appreciation blooms in our heart, in our being, in the same lives with which we have had so many justified quibbles and complaints. I mean, don’t even get me started, right?

It’s a simple cloth coat resurrection nearly every time. Someone gave us kindness or a mitzvah, like you might offer someone a meal or a glass of cool water. And this opens our hearts, makes us want to share instead of hoard or protect. Feeling stingy makes us small, clenched, dark. Feeling that we have been blessed makes us feel expansive and light. It makes us generous. We make a little gasp of surprised appreciation when we feel grateful to someone, and this gives us more breath, which connects us back to life, where we now have plenty to share. Who knew? And this is why we were born: to live, to give, to receive, awaken, expand.

From the entire Commonweal family, we wish you a happy day of gratitude spent with those you love and adore. And please know how grateful we are for you and all that you do to support professional live theatre in Lanesboro. 
Wanna share in even more to be thankful for? Please join us for a performance of
It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play opening this Friday, November 23 at 7:30. We guarantee it will give you a new lease on your own life. 
GET TICKETS —> Performance Dates & Times.
Thanks for reading, Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy. 

Things To Do…Commonweal’s Fall Favorites

Some Of Our Favorite Things About Fall

Okay, I am ready to admit it as I begrudgingly pull out my sweaters and scarves. Summer 2018 (boy, do I love summer) has officially passed as the crisp, frosty mornings are upon us. More than any of the other three seasons, fall brings to mind things to do in the great outdoors and/or indoors. Mainly because one can still spend a decent amount of time outside without the threat of frostbite. And so, I give you a quick list of fall things to do from some of your favorite Commonwealers.

Thomas White (Production Manager): I love fall food. Honeycrisp apples, hot drinks on cold nights. Soup season!

Lauren Schulke (Apprentice Company): Hiking right when the leaves are falling!

Ben Gorman (Actor; Marketing Associate): Read and share autumnal / Halloween / horror / wistful-seasonal stories. By candlelight. Maybe with a fire going.

Josiah Laubenstein (Actor; Marketing Associate): Sit down to a cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie.

Adrienne Sweeney (Actress; External Communications Director): I love to rake all the leaves into a huge pile and then have my dog Lucy run through them.

Hal Cropp (Actor; Executive Director): Take a fall hike through the leaves (but only if the Packers are not on TV).

Rachel Kuhnle (Actress; Administration Director): My favorite thing to do in October is going to haunted houses. I always try to go to Valley Fair in October when sections of the park are turned into haunted houses.

Philip Muehe (Actor; Director; Marketing Associate): Corn mazes and apple orchard adventures!

Brandt Roberts (Actor; Production Associate): Strolling through the woods on a crisp day.

Ian Sutherland (Apprentice Company): Watching horror movies/reading spooky stories/listening to horror podcasts.

Eric Lee (Actor; Marketing Associate): When the weather cools down, I can’t wait to start steeping my Lapsang Souchong! And if you’re not familiar, it’s a smoked black tea, and it’s like drinking a campfire in a cup. So if I’m around, and you think you smell something burning, hopefully, that’s just my tea!

Bailey Otto (Production Stage Manager): My favorite fall activity is listening to spooky podcasts while walking on the trail.

Jeremy van Meter (Actor; Communications Manager; Yours Truly): Finding a space for a solitary walk while listening to college football on the radio, yes, the radio. Go Hawkeyes!

There you have it. Some of the things we enjoy about the time of year we find ourselves in. One of the great things to do in Lanesboro right now is to take in one of the final six performances of Dracula: Prince of Blood.
Our world-premiere production from the desk of our own Scott Dixon must close Sunday, November 11. PURCHASE TICKETS —> November-December Calendar.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy. 

FYI—Read More Horror Stories

Ruthanna Emrys is an author based in Washington, DC. Ms. Emrys recently had an opinion piece circulate through National Public Radio about how reading horror stories can actually help us to survive and make sense of our own horrifying world. We are all about the power and value of a good horror story right now at the Commonweal as Scott Dixon’s new adaptation of Dracula: Prince of Blood makes its way to the stage later this month. The timing of this article could not be better because, honestly, who doesn’t appreciate a good tale of things that go bump in the night?!

Reading Horror Can Arm Us
Against A Horrifying World

by Ruthanna Emrys

Commonweal professional resident ensemble member Jeremy van Meter portrays Dracula: Prince of Blood

  Jeremy van Meter as The Vampire Lord in Dracula: Prince of Blood

Tom Lehrer famously said that satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. And yet here we are, still struggling to exaggerate the follies of power until power can’t get around us. Horror has much the same resilience. As terrifying as the world becomes, we still turn to imagined terrors to try and make sense of it. To quote another favorite entertainer, Neil Gaiman, “Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Horror, descended from those tales, tells us about more monsters — and more strategies for beating them.

The banal evils of the world — children shot, neighbors exiled, selves reframed in an instant as inhuman threats — these are horrible, but they aren’t horror. Horror promises that the plot arc will fall after it rises. Horror spins everyday evil to show its fantastical face, literalizing its corroded heart into something more dramatic, something easier to imagine facing down. Horror helps us name the original sins out of which horrible things are born.

Click here to continue reading the full article.

Dracula: Prince of Blood, a world premiere adaptation by Commonweal professional resident ensemble member Scott Dixon, begins previews August 31 and opens September 8. 
Get tickets —> Performance Calendar
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.