Summary: A very personal experience
Each year in March Jill and I have a Continental holiday. Last year and this we revisited Malta and Gozo, two strange little islands – Malta with little beauty, but with tremendous history written in its buildings, Gozo much smaller and much greener with tremendous walking and swimming and diving, but little else to do.
If you really want to get the feel of what these islands are like I suggest you read Nicholas Monserrat’s novel called “The Kappilan of Malta”. Though its mainly fiction it’s also based on fact. The fact of what the Germans did to the island because of its strategic position at the heart of the Mediterranean sea, of the bombing and the effect it had on the morale of its people – and of the Priest, the little Kappilan. who lived with and loved his people and encouraged them to stand fast as their ancestors had done when they too had faced destruction at the hands of other invaders.
As I say it’s a strange island, very tatty in many areas, but what sets it apart from many other holiday destinations is the Christian faith of its people. Our four visits to Malta have always introduced us to new experiences and new ideas which have hit home and stayed with us on our return. For example, last year we tried to visit as many of the cultural sites in the three weeks we were there, and one event we attended continues to stand out in our memory. At the entrance to the Capital City of Valletta there are two Bastions once occupied as fortresses by the Knights of St. John – one of those Bastions, the Bastion of St. John, is a huge hall which the warriors used in their fight against the Turkish invaders It’s much as it was in the 14th Century, but the other, the Bastion of St. James has been transformed into a cultural centre. For exhibitions of paintings and photography, with a cinema and a Theatre. And that’s where we went one night for a performance of “Godspell”.
It had a young cast, boys and girls mainly in their teens and early 20’s, but with some older people to maintain the more demanding parts, with a very powerful Jesus, a man in his 50’s I’d say, who was full of joy and vitality. We saw and heard Jesus’ from the time of His Baptism right through to His death and the hint of His Resurrection.…….. but there was just one problem! The theatre was in the round, by which I mean that the stage was in the very centre of the theatre with seating on three sides, just as it is here in Church, only more so. We had booked seats in the balcony, and because of the way they had positioned the seats with screens right in front of us, we couldn’t see very much of what was going on, and because of my deafness I had difficulty in hearing too. What I did notice was that there were quite a number of vacant seats downstairs, so, when we came to the interva I went downstairs and said to the lady who’d taken our tickets, “Do you think we could come down from the blacony and sit in some of these vacant seats”. “I can’t make that decision” she said, “You’d better go and have a word with the Producer”. I asked who he was and she pointed to “Jesus” – he was the Producer. So I went up to “Jesus” and told him about my problem, how we couldn’t see and couldn’t hear, and could we move downstairs and sit in the vacant seats”………………. He looked at me, and with a twinkle in His eye he said, “Of course you can, Friend GO DOWN LOWER!”.