A one act play
Mary: an aspiring writer hosting the dinner party of her dreams.
Tom Brokaw: (February 6, 1940) a retired television journalist and author. Tom has written several books on American history and society in the 20th century.
C.S. Lewis: (1898–1963) one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience. Friends and family called him Jack.
Matthew Kelly: (July 12, 1973) internationally acclaimed motivational speaker has dedicated his life to helping people and organizations become the-best-version-of-themselves through prayer and living God’s Word. His books have been published in more than 25 languages and have sold more than 40 million copies.
Ernest Hemingway: (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. Had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.
St. Peter (yes, THE St. Peter): (r. AD 30; died between AD 64 and 68) also known as Simon Peter, or Peter the Apostle, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, and one of the first leaders of the early Church. He is traditionally counted as the first Bishop of Rome – or Pope.
Synopsis: A varied group of writers and thought leaders have gathered at the home of Mary for her dream dinner party. When dessert is served, she uses the opportunity to pose a thoughtful question. Discussion ensues.
Setting: The dining room of Mary’s family home.
At Rise: Five men engaging in pleasant conversation seated around a large mahogany dining table. Lighting is dimmed. Background piano music plays quietly on Alexa. Mary delivers a slice of luscious blueberry pie to each guest, then takes a seat at the head of the table.
Mary (Shifting in her chair, Mary clears her throat to attract the attention of her guests.)
I hope you have enjoyed the meal. Thank you for accepting my dinner invitation. I’m ecstatic that you’re here.
Ernest (Leaning in and lightly touching Mary’s forearm. Speaks in a whisper.)
I would enjoy another mojito, sweetheart.
Mary (Startled by Ernest’s touch, Mary recoils. Trying to cover her response she rises quickly almost knocking the heavy mahogany chair backwards.)Oh, sure not a problem. The blueberry pie is my mom’s recipe.
The pie is exquisite.
Thank you. Can I get anyone else another beverage?
One more beer and then a cup of tea would be wonderful.
Mary (Walking toward the kitchen.)
Water is fine, Thanks.
No, thanks. I’m good.
Mary (Pausing near kitchen door.)
Umm … Peter? Sir? What do you prefer I call you?
Petri. Maybe aliquantulus magis vino?
Translate … anyone?
Tom (Tom chuckles as Mary blushes)
He said, ‘Maybe a bit more wine?’
Oh … right! OK, great. Will do. Thanks, Tom! While I’m getting your drinks, I’d like to ask a question. Possibly get your individual opinions on a topic that has me a bit confused?
Ernest (Pushing his chair back a few inches from the table.)
I’d love to answer any of your questions, darlin’!
Mary (Hurrying, Mary delivers fresh drinks.)
Well, great! Ok, then … I write a Catholic blog where I hope to creatively share God’s Word with my readers. Sometimes I doubt my ability, but my bigger question is how do I stay true to my message and still reach readers who don’t necessarily agree with my views?
(Each man thoughtfully pauses. Tom speaks first.)
My first advice to you Mary, is don’t be afraid to do something unconventional, to take a chance, to risk something.
Yes, Tom. I agree. It’s a very simple idea. God calls you to holiness, Mary, and everything that happens in your life, every triumph, every trial, and tragedy is an opportunity to grow in holiness.
(The men nod in agreement as Mary runs to the kitchen to grab a pen and notebook.)
I’d love to jump in here if I may. Great thoughts, gentlemen, but Mary please remember don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him.
Mary (Writing in the notebook while she walks.)
I’ll definitely remember that advice. It’s lovely.
Ernest (Shifting in his chair to talk to Mary as she heads back to her seat.)
Ok, good advice, men, but Mary all you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. Anyway … that’s what I’d do.
Thank you, Mr. Hemingway, uh … Ernie, I get that.
Hmmm … interesting, Ernie. Mary, I started writing in a journal, and I was learning so much along the way. How to deal with my family, how to deal with my friends. Have you tried that?
Uhh … journaling … right … never thought of that, Tom. I’m gonna grab tea for C.S. I’ll be right back.
(There is a collective snigger from the group.)
Understand Mary, that every moment of every day, every situation, every person we encounter is an opportunity to become a-better-version-of-ourselves, so write with that in mind and it will all come together. Yes or yes?
(Mary, calling from the kitchen. The others enthusiastically joining in responding Yes!)
Yes, Matthew. Yes … um … Correct!
Est enim impossibile, non loquor de nobis; quod vidimus et audivimus.
Mary (Again, returning through the kitchen doorway.)
Tom? A little help here?
He’s telling you that it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.
Mary (Nodding emphatically. Slightly raising her voice as if talking with someone with hearing loss.)
Love it! Thanks. Yes, I completely agree, Peter. Another question … What about incorporating personal experiences combined with God’s messages?
Can you give me an example?
You just spoke English, Peter?
Yep. I’m multi-lingual out of necessity.
Ernest (Laughing boisterously.)
You, sir, are hilarious!
Mary (Joining in the levity.)
Wow! That is a miracle, Peter. So, this may sound weird, but I have several examples of God speaking to me or helping me when I pray for a special intention. I believe they are true miracles.
Jack (C.S.) (Leaning in)
Mary (Apprehensively begins while fiddling with her notebook.)
For example, when my son was just three years old, we had terrible money problems. We didn’t even have a couple of dollars to pay for a gallon of milk. But the one gallon of milk we did have lasted for many days longer than it logically should have. I prayed to God to help us through that tough time. I prayed the milk would last. And it did. I call it our miracle milk.
(Mary looks up, pauses for a reaction. Each man is staring at her intently, waiting for her to continue.)
Another time a miracle happened when my mom had a very scary surgery on a major aneurism. I prayed for Jesus to be with her. In the operating room my mom had a conversation with Jesus. My family joked, but you know, not in a blasphemous way, we called Him Dr. Jesus!
Matthew (Chuckling quietly and nodding)
What a beautiful blessing those stories are.
Mary, here’s something to think about. Humility is the key. Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Don’t worry about being arrogant if you are writing from your heart.
(Pausing to sip his tea.)
First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.
Mary (Picking up her pen Mary writes vigorously while nodding.)
Yes! I need to remember this! Okay, final question before we wrap up this wonderful evening. Explain to me how to avoid being arrogant or preachy?
(Looking to each person, Mary gestures at C.S. to share first.)
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal and their life to ours is of that to a gnat. But it is of mortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
(C.S. leans toward Tom, indicating he is done talking.)
Heroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip quietly away. So, tell your authentic stories. Tell the stories of real people to real people and your readers will take from it what they will.
(Cupping his hand to his chin, Tom leans back in his chair and turns toward Ernest.)
There’s no rule on how it is to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges. Write honestly.
(Motioning toward Matthew.)
Let your writing lead you like this man has done.
Thank you, Ernie. We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us. You cannot change one moment of your past, but you can change your whole future by learning from your personal stories. Now is your time. Don’t hesitate to share your God-centered stories with everyone you meet.
(Matthew reverently places his hand on Peter’s shoulder.)
Mary, remember that your salvation and perfection consists of doing the will of God, which you must have in view in all things and at every moment of your life.
(Tears shining in her eyes, Mary puts down her pen and closes her notebook.
I can’t thank each of you enough for agreeing to spend time with me and sharing your wisdom. I love each of you in a special way for guiding me on my journey. In my writing and in my daily life, I thank God for your wisdom. I am humbled by your advice and treasure it in my heart, always.
Why don’t we wrap up this celebration with one last little mojito?
(The men laugh in agreement as Mary heads back toward the kitchen.)
Blackout. End of scene.
Note: The dialog in this short play consists of actual quotes by each character that have touched my life. I generally have them (and many others) scribed on Post-It notes stuck on my computer screen, written in journals and taped on the walls around my desk in my office. I believe we are each here to share our stories with others – so they can learn from our expereinces and vice versa.