Have you ever wondered who all those people are who are listed in the credits at the end of a movie? Do you have any idea of what a Key Grip does or how a woman can be a Best Boy? How in the world can there be so many people involved in the making of one little film?
Before I ever earned the “Rev.” before my name, I spent a good many years working in television and motion pictures. Indeed, there are a few movies where I am listed as one of those interminable names at the end. I have been not only a Key Grip and a Best Boy but a Gaffer, a Boomer, a Loader, a Puller, an A.D., an Assistant to the A.D., a 2nd Unit Director and, believe it or not, a stunt car driver. Although the memory dims, I think I can still remember just what each job entailed although I am a little fuzzy over what my responsibilities were back when I was paid to be a Clapper. I know it didn’t have anything to do with applauding.
Such reminiscing calls me to reflect on the myriad of folk who have had a hand in my own making. Leading roles would go, of course, to my parents but the list of credits would be long and probably, much like the movies, of not great interest to anyone but those whose names are listed.
Nevertheless, it seems a worthy exercise to ponder just precisely who would be on the rolling credit when my life finally goes to black.
I would have to include my first grade teacher, Miss Schwartz, who planted the seed of reading pleasure deep within my soul. In that same category, although I cannot remember any names, I would honor the librarians at the Westchester Public Library in Los Angeles who allowed me to spend hours taking up valuable space just paging through old Life magazines and re-reading Beverly Cleary books.
I don’t know what I would call them: Molders and Shapers? This would be a long list that would contain all those dear people who sacrificed time and energy to get me where I’ve gotten. I doubt many of them ever imagined I’d end up working in the religion biz but, in some strange and mysterious way, because of them I did. I’m thinking now of Mr. Lopez from High School English Class who wouldn’t allow me to just get by. Curiously, I would also give credit to the college counselor who in my freshman year told me to save my parents’ money and drop out now. Her lack of conviction in my abilities, I am convinced, made me all the more able.
Teachers seem to make up a lot of my credit list. Part of that is because I have spent so much time in and around schools but it also reminds me of what a sacred profession teaching is. The power these men and women have in the lives of all of us should give us pause. It should also compel us to make sure they are the very best our society can offer. It is an interesting commentary on all of us that we pay teachers so little and expect from them so much.
Antithetically, I would list Reginald DuPree as “Reality Doser”. DuPree was my first employer out of college. When he hired me to work in his Import/Export business he took note of a proud fact I had listed on my resume. “Oh, I see you’re a college graduate.” he said to me. When I smugly smiled he went on to say, “I’ll give you an extra $25 a month for that.”
As the credits continue to roll, I would have to add a long list of names under the title “Inspirers”. Included would be the famous and the almost forgotten, all those who, by their lives, encouraged me onward and outward. Some of the great writers would be on this list but so would some of the not so great. I am humbled to remember how certain folk have reached out to me in the course of their lives and changed the course of my own.
I remember casually mentioning to a friend a long time ago that my wife and I were pregnant. “Oh brother is your life going to change!” is what he said and what he said was absolutely true. Under “Life Changers” I’d list three. Under “Life Sustainer” I’d list just one: my wife, my lover, my dearest friend.
The list is long and growing longer so I’ll have to leave some space for other names between now and the inevitable The End.