Witnessing the Sacred





There is this place in Oregon, along the Columbia River Gorge, where a person can walk behind the waterfall. Horsetail Falls is one of the most scenic of Oregon’s waterfalls. Not nearly as popular as the grandiose Multnomah Falls, it offers an intimacy the more regal Multnomah lacks.


I hiked up there some years back with my daughters, I think, though to tell you the truth, I remember less about who I was with and more about what it felt like, there behind that cool water thundering off that hillside like a thousand wild horses. If I recall correctly (who can trust their memory, really?) I waded right out into that pool of water and let that waterfall spray all over me. Whoever I was with laughed and hollered at me to get back, but I’m crazy like that around water. I can’t resist a good baptism in whatever form it comes – waterfalls, rivers, lakes, or the marble encased ones found in the churches of my upbringing.

This past week in Georgia has evoked the memory of that hike and the soaking I got that day up at Horsetail Falls. People keep stopping me and asking me what I think of Paul Pierce’s adaptation of MOTHER OF RAIN: “Do you like it? Did Paul stay true to the novel? What do you really think?”

My writer friends, they understand. They know that having a playwright as talented as Paul Pierce adapt a work for the stage is a gift beyond measure.

Seeing one’s work the way Paul has produced MOTHER OF RAIN is like a waterfall baptismal: One is literally soaked through and through in joy and gratitude.  I have seen the show every night and have wept and laughed through the very same scenes each night.

People keep asking if Paul Pierce is serious about getting the play at the Kennedy Center.

Yes. Absolutely.

Without question.

Anyone who has read MOTHER OF RAIN understands how much work Paul Pierce put into adapting it to the stage. His creation is nothing short of magical. Ask anyone who has seen it.

I have no doubt that this stage play has a life all of its own ahead.

There are moments when I am watching the play, or watching the audiences’s response to the play, that feel akin to a Sunday morning resurrection.

I know I am seeing something deep within stirring to life, that I am witnessing something sacred.


I saw it last night as the gentleman with the white hair reached over and took his wife’s hand in his as Zeb picked Maizee up and carried her to a soft place near the giant chestnut at Horseshoe Falls. Their faces told me that they were no longer watching Zeb and Maizee, but rather seeing themselves there on that stage, a young couple falling into an embrace and a love that has proven eternal.

How can one be anything but forever grateful for the opportunity to witness such sacred moments?

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of MOTHER OF RAIN (Mercer University Press).


Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

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