Last Friday I had the chance to see Wicked in Cincinnati. It was awesome, but I nodded off for 5 or 10 minutes in the first act, because I was so exhausted from ministry, and life, and driving up to the 'natti in a snowstorm(ish), and it was so warm in there, and someone was singing so beautifully. Anyway, I got about $78 of my $80 worth, and I'm glad I did. I already knew what Wicked was about. We all know the story already anyway. People are labeled because they are different, and the labels begin to define them. Only through unconditional love can they return to their original state, which is wholeness.
I love sitting around and musing about the connections between the various aspects of my life and experiences. I guess that's what all ministers do? I couldn't help noticing the parallels between the story of Elphiba and the stories of our UU teens, fifteen of whom came to our Coming of Age meeting Sunday night, and after we shared our faith/theologies and ate sundaes with a variety of toppings brought to represent each of our beliefs, our DRE had us place sticky notes on ourselves with all of the labels people had given us. As each person (youth and mentors too) tore them off and read them, I had the most powerful realization of what our teens face, and how courageously they face it, with humor, wisdom, and tolerance. Some of the teens had 20 labels or more.
I am going to copy them now. We had to crawl around and salvage them off the floor, and some are crumbled and torn. I just dumped them out of a Kroger bag. Here goes:
Emo, lazy, anti-christ,stupid, hick,ugly, hippie, WRONG, outcast, smart, tree hugger,satan worshipper, sinner, geek, jock, stupid, lesbian, atheist, satanist, tree hugger,nerd, tree hugger (this one was popular), liberal, liberal, confused, hippy, nerd, going to hell, nerd, meaningless, don't believe anything, square, witch, liberal, gay, poser, trailer trash (hey, it's Kentucky), hippy, liberal, insane, weird, lesbo, lazy, crazy, ugly, bossy, controlling,unethical, close-minded, witch (n keeping with the "Wicked" theme), tomboy, atheist, Unitarian, tree hugger, Damned, atheist, hippy, angry, immature, don't believe anything, radical, smart aleck, hippie, strange, tomboy, hippies, wrong, agnostic, certain, unspiritual, wishy washy, redneck, hippie, atheist, sick, loser, satanic, damned, satanic, agnostic, liberal, intolerant, crazy, non christian, flakey, god-hater, odd, geeky, lazy, interesting, smart, goth, teacher pet, hippie, lazy, devil worshipper, emo, cult, lesbian, loser, heathen, radical, sinner, long-haired hippie, sinner, lazy (???!!!i who is this... the parents??), hippie, unbeliever, no faith, lesbian, weird, dirty vegan (my personal favorite), and finally (drum roll): f**king Unitarian. Guess the above speaks for itself.
Hey, guess what? At the bottom of the Kroger bag (what do y'all who don't have Kroger stores call those plastic shopping bags??), there were 4 M&Ms and 1 chocolate chip. I ate them. The post-it note labels are sitting here in a big pile next to me. The teens wanted to burn them. I think I will.