A Playful Mystery Play for Four Voices
By Thomas Rhodes
Reader 1: Once upon a time
Reader 2: A long time ago
Reader 3: A very, very long time ago
Reader 4: Like, before your parents were even born
Reader 1: There was a Mystery.
Reader 2: She was a great Mystery.
Reader 3: And nobody understood or appreciated her
Reader 4: Mainly because there was no one else around to appreciate or understand much of anything.
Reader 1: For a long, long time nothing happened.
Reader 2: The great mystery waited.
Reader 3: And waited
Reader 2: And waited some more,
Reader 1: Until at last she said,
Reader 4: “I’m bored!”
Reader 1: And so the Mystery set the stars in the heavens,
Reader 2: And planets to circle the stars,
Reader 3: And comets to wander to and fro,
Reader 2: And it was all very beautiful.
Reader 1: But after a couple of billion years of watching, the Mystery decided it was still
Reader 4: “Bor-ing!”
Reader 1: The Mystery was lonely.
Reader 2: She wanted someone to play with.
Reader 3: So she looked among all the stars and planets.
Reader 1: But some of the stars were…
Reader 4: Too hot.
Reader 2: And others were…
Reader 4: Too cool.
Reader 1: And some of the planets were…
Reader 4: Too big
Reader 2: And others were…
Reader 4: Too little
Reader 3: But finally she found one that was
Reader 4: Just right!
Reader 2: The planet was covered with water
Reader 3: But there were huge chunks of land sticking out,
Reader 1: And even mountains and plains and rivers.
Reader 2: Best of all, there were tiny, tiny, creatures called protozoa,
Reader 3: That lived and squirmed in the water.
Reader 4: “Come play with me!”
Reader 1: The Mystery said.
Reader 3: But the protozoa just kept on squirming like they hadn’t even heard her.
Reader 2: Which isn’t surprising
Reader 3: Because they didn’t have any ears.
Reader 1: After another couple of billion years of watching the stars and planets and comets
Reader 3: And the squirming protozoa
Reader 4: The Mystery was bored again.
Reader 1: Then the Mystery got an idea.
Reader 3: She decided to glue some of the protozoa together with stuff called protoplasm.
Reader 2: When they were stuck together, the protozoa began working together.
Reader 3: They formed eyes and feet and mouths and stomachs
Reader 4: And ears!
Reader 3: So they could see and move around and eat and digest
Reader 4: And hear me!
Reader 1: But even if the new creatures could hear the Mystery, they didn’t pay much attention to her.
Reader 2: Instead they watched each other.
Reader 3: And they moved around and ate and digested each other too.
Reader 4: At least it was more interesting than watching the stars and planets and comets
Reader 1: It was more interesting because as the new creatures watched and moved around and ate and digested,
Reader 2: They changed.
Reader 3: They grew.
Reader 4: They evolved.
Reader 1: And soon there were all kinds of different animals
Reader 2: In the seas and on the land
Reader 3: And mountains and rivers.
Reader 1: There were cows that said “moo.”*
Reader 2: And sheep said “baa”*
Reader 3: And three singing pigs said “la la la”*
Reader 4: No! No! That isn’t right! Pigs say Oink all day and night!*
Reader 3: Oh… (singing) oink!
Reader 2: (singing) Oink!
Reader 1: (singing) Oink!
Reader 1: But the idea of singing pigs got the Mystery thinking.
Reader 2: Maybe some of the animals could use their mouths for singing or talking as well as eating.
Reader 4: They would make great playmates!
Reader 3: So she waited and watched as the animals continued to evolve.
Reader 2: And sure enough, after another bazillion years, she saw them.
Reader 4: They were really funny looking.
Reader 2: All of their fur was stuck on top of their heads…
Reader 3: And just a few other places on their bodies.
Reader 2: And they walked on just two feet…
Reader 3: Instead of all four, like most of the other creatures.
Reader 2: But best of all, they could talk!
Reader 4: They would be so much fun to play with!
Reader 1: The new creatures had problems, though.
Reader 2: The new creatures didn’t have any fur, so they were cold much of the time.
Reader 3: They didn’t have big teeth or sharp claws, so they had trouble getting food to eat.
Reader 4: So the Mystery gave them some ideas for making fires and growing crops.
Reader 3: And for a while everything went just great.
Reader 2: The new creatures called themselves humans, which means “from the earth.”
Reader 3: And for a long time the humans lived in balance with the other creatures.
Reader 4: The Mystery enjoyed watching the humans and giving them new ideas.
Reader 2: But she was always careful to make sure that the humans never saw her or heard her directly
Reader 4: Because then she wouldn’t be a Mystery any more.
Reader 1: The humans were curious, though, and wanted to know more about the Mystery
Reader 2: Was the Mystery at all human, like they were?
Reader 3: Was the Mystery male, or female, or something else entirely?
Reader 2: Did the Mystery care about them?
Reader 4: Of course I do!
Reader 1: If they prayed hard enough, would the Mystery make their crops grow?
Reader 4: Perhaps, but only if you take care of the earth.
Reader 3: Or punish their enemies?
Reader 4: I don’t think so! Your enemies want me to punish you, but I won’t do that either!
Reader 1: The humans had lots of other questions too, like,
Reader 2: Where do we come from?
Reader 3: What are we supposed to do with our lives?
Reader 2: Why do people get sick, suffer, and die?
Reader 4: But the Mystery was silent about these things.
Reader 1: She knew that if she spoke to them, the humans would think that she was a god,
Reader 3: A god like they wrote about in their ancient books.
Reader 2: But the mystery was greater than any god, and far beyond anything the humans could imagine.
Reader 3: She didn’t want to terrify the humans.
Reader 4: And besides, it was more interesting this way.
Reader 1: More time passed, and the humans kept evolving.
Reader 2: They gathered themselves together in cities, and built roads to connect the cities.
Reader 3: They planted huge fields of crops, and built machines to harvest the crops.
Reader 2: And they built other machines for traveling on the roads.
Reader 3: And they took the cows and sheep and pigs and penned them up to use for food.
Reader 1: And they argued a lot about what they were supposed to be doing with their lives.
Reader 4: But the Mystery kept quiet, hoping they would figure it out for themselves.
Reader 1: The humans kept building – more cities and roads, more fields, and more machines.
Reader 2: Soon the world was filled with humans.
Reader 3: There was no room for the wild animals.
Reader 2: The cows and sheep and pigs got more and more crowded in their pens.
Reader 1: The humans were running out of room too.
Reader 3: Some thought there was no more room for Mystery, either.
Reader 1: When the Mystery realized that the humans thought they had figured out everything for themselves, she became very sad.
Reader 2: Some of the humans claimed that the Mystery was angry, and if everybody didn’t do what they said, she would destroy them.
Reader 3: Others said that they didn’t need the Mystery any more – they could do fine on their own.
Reader 2: It seemed that the humans were too busy building and arguing to play any more.
Reader 1: The Mystery wanted to say something, but she knew her voice would terrify the humans.
Reader 2: She also believed that they would argue about the meaning of her words.
Reader 3: They couldn’t even agree on what “Thou shalt not kill” or “Love your enemies” meant.
Reader 4: And besides, she knew that simply making the humans do what she wanted would take the fun out of playing.
Reader 3: But maybe there was another way.
Reader 2: The Mystery knew that the humans wouldn’t listen to her, no matter how loudly or clearly she spoke.
Reader 1: Maybe instead of telling the humans what to do in a loud voice like thunder, she should use a softer voice, like a whisper.
Reader 2: Maybe instead of speaking to their ears, she should speak to their hearts.
Reader 3: Maybe instead of using words, she should use feelings.
Reader 4: And that is exactly what she did.
Reader 1: If you listen very closely, you will hear what the Mystery is saying to you.
Reader 2: Don’t listen with your ears, listen with your heart.
Reader 3: Think about what you feel when you consider this beautiful planet, our home.
Reader 4: Do you feel joy?
Reader 3: Do you feel a sense of wonder?
Reader 2: Do you feel thankful?
Reader 1: Do you feel love?
Reader 4: Each of these feelings is part of the Mystery.
Reader 3: Because each of us is part of the Mystery.
Reader 2: When we recognize and act on our feelings of joy, wonder, thanksgiving, and love,
Reader 1: Then the Mystery will play with us and through us for a long, long time to come.
Reader 2: Amen.
Reader 3: Shalom.
Reader 4: And Blessed Be.
*Asterisked lines are from the book Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton (Little Simon, 1982).