Retrieving the Lamb
December 1-11, 2022
By Judy Simpson Cook
Christmas comes but once a year. And for the folks in Travis Whitten's nativity tableau, that's way too often. Travis is irritable, domineering, difficult, and, as her daughter, Carmen, tells her, If we went to the cemetery right now, we'd find a tombstone that says, 'here lies Travis Whitten's sense of humor. Dead before its time'. The usual Mary, Joseph, and angel are sick with the flu, the music director wants to change the music, and the church furnace is broken so it's either steaming hot or freezing cold. Travis faces some major challenges in mounting this production. She drafts her daughter, Carmen, and son-in-law, Glenn, to play Mary and Joseph, but they refuse, citing their upcoming divorce as the reason. A newcomer to the community named Angel wants to participate but Travis questions her past and her reputation. A local farmer, Joe Walker Hughes, brings his 14-year-old daughter, J.W., and her pet lamb to participate but she's only about five years old mentally and emotionally so Travis is afraid she'll ruin the scene. And, if all that were not enough to make the normally cranky Travis even more difficult, a terrifying storm comes up, leaving the church and its irritable inhabitants in darkness inside and J.W.'s lamb lost in the darkness outside. Travis tries to create her tableau anyway with reluctant participants in adverse circumstances. As Joe Walker goes out into the storm to search for J.W.'s lamb, the others are left to search for the love, compassion, understanding, and spirit of the season which they have lost. Fortunately, they are all assisted in their search by the warm, caring young woman named Angel whose past really is questionable: could she have come from Heaven?
Retrieving the Lamb is funny, tense, sweet, and sad-with just a touch of the magic we need at Christmas (and the rest of the year, too).