As I Knew Him: Remembering Cecil Forbes, 1927-2021

by Michael Reardon, BC Member

Photo by Rory Cecil

“All the world’s a stage,
and we, the players …
and in our time, play many parts.”


Paraphrasing Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” is one appropriate way to reflect upon a man who spent much of his life in theater arts, helping the weary world to lighten up and enter into the story, sung or spoken, comic or tragic. He was a man of renaissance, of art, of welcome, of faith.

A giant.

I once asked him, “If all the world IS a stage, where DOES the audience sit?” I thought I had stumped him (finally!), but he stated that his work took place behind the scenes, like a Deus Ex Machina, like the ancient Greek or Roman theater crew where a crane held a deity over the stage, or like an unexpected Power that saves a seemingly hopeless stage event.  He replied that there is more to drama than the audience and the actors.

There is the: “Behind the Scenes”.

And that is how I thought of him over the last twenty some years that I knew him, in the winter season of his days.  Behind the Scenes.  And that is how I saw him, quiet, humble, involved, at the ready.  At dinners, behind the scenes, listening and deferent; at book club, behind the scenes, attentive and waiting with a quip; at St John’s, behind the scenes, in steady prayer, no doubt for all of us.  I loved talking with him, being encouraged, and affirmed, learning something new and sharing something funny.

It is said that behind (the scenes of) great men are great women.  And always, I think of him with his beloved spouse.  A paired ensemble.  A company of two.  Inseparable.  As one.

When I last saw him, in St Luke’s Hospital, he was asleep, and I did not want to wake him.  I knew that the Lord Jesus was holding him close.

And now, there is darkness.
The theater has dimmed to black.
Cast and crew are silent.  Audience hushed.

But wait!

We anticipate a sound.  An orchestra?  A trumpet? (1 Thes 4:16)
We expect a curtain to rise.  A new heaven and a new earth?  (Rev 21:1)

We await a never-before scene to appear.

“The eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor has it entered in the human heart, what things God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Cor 2:9)

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen …    

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