We all want to feel special. And honestly, we are all unique. BUT at the same time our stories repeat. In my quest to find my creative spark again I have been reviewing the stories that have spoken to me. The stories that seem like unauthorized autobiography under an alias. What’s mine? Do I even need one?
Well it’s my twenty year high school reunion this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing everyone and hearing all of their stories. I wish I could give them a glorious story of my professional triumph and my lovely home. That isn’t my story though, My story is more like a classic rock and roll tale about a star that shined too bright, too soon, took too many risks, fell and is now seeking to rebuild after the fall.
My blog began with a story about my father taking me to the opera. Just a few weeks later. He passed away suddenly. I had no words. Death came like a thief. I felt like Death had been casing my home but I said nothing. I felt it and did everything I could to discourage it. Time with family. Phone calls. Health advice. Like I was banging pots and pans around the house to let whoever was outside know I heard them. I was awake.
It doesn’t matter. We have no control of mortality. When the Lord comes to take you home your time is done. My family rushed to the hospital. We prayed. We circled his body. I felt it though as I said the words. He was gone. The machines performing a maudlin show. His soul had already left his body which hadn’t been helpful to him for so long. I was oddly calm. As I tend to be.
Silent. Silent as the machines continued to beep. Silent as the crash carts came. Silent as I held my mother. Silent as I heard the sobs and shouts of my mother. My brother. Silent as I hugged my young niece. Silent as I hovered in the space between here and there.
Silent as the curtain closed on my father’s show. Words so rarely come to me right now. Although late at night tears have finally come. Silent slow tears. Gentle relief. I can only hope that was the feeling for my father as he passed from this life to the next.
Remember the absolute exhilaration of being a child when the Snow Day is announced? It feels like the skies have opened up and offered you a gift. A break from the normal routines of life. It felt like someone just went on your local news station and handed you a personal gift. Twenty four hours, maybe more, to do whatever you wanted in the house. You could play any game, read any book,listen to your favorite songs, watch your favorite movies and cartoons, probably taste your favorite treats, if you were lucky you got extra time with people in your family and friends that you loved. Snow days as a child are amazing.
Then ADULTHOOD sets in. Adulthood which leads to cleaning up, facing the cold, getting to work for many people has little to nothing to do with acts of God. At some point the joy you felt as a child is replaced with responsibilities and duties. Joy has left the building. The moment of transition from child to adult somewhere around 18 is when society dictates it is time to put away childish things. Joy is for the young only.
Should we be surprised that so many of us go astray from Christ during this time of life? Christ brings Joy. Too often we don’t learn how to keep Him (Joy itself) with us. When I lost Joy in my life. I didn’t just lose happy feelings. I lost direction. I lost clarity. I spent years searching for joy again. I found some unreasonable facsimiles. Money, glamour, prestige, sex, booze. The rock and roll lifestyle. It was never enough. I never felt as much joy as I did on those snow days of my youth.
Why not go back and discover the activities that created joy when I wasn’t looking outside? Maybe it is time to search within and find Joy again. He never went away.
Theater. Theatre. Shakespeare. Andrew Lloyd Weber. Pavarotti. Beyonce. Basically if it’s a spectacle on a stage I am going to have a great time. Classical. Modern. I love the beauty found in the creation.
Beauty is one of many paths to embracing the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I can only speak to my experience, but surely this is my personal favorite path. God is THE CREATOR. He wrote the play upon which the stage of the world moves and acts.
Just today I received news which will push me towards the path of my deepest desires. It was such a surprise! I remember feeling overwhelmed. There had been all these pieces of my dreams in my hands but I was stuck. I just couldn’t see how to put it together. I put the pieces down. Just let it go and found myself engaging in a practice of gratitude.
Thanking God for everything he had handed me. Just stating my thanks for everything as it was as the Lord had created this exact moment. The pieces were enough. I was enough. God was as always more than enough.
God always keeps his promises. As I found myself in that space of gratitude, the puzzle turned around and I could see the next steps. A beautiful moment. Another moment of beauty drawing me closer to Him.
Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. L’asissez bon temps rouler! Love that feeling, love that energy. Mardi Gras always makes me think of St. Augustine. “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet. ” There is always the desire to indulge in pleasure just before you become your best self. That is exactly how I used to think about Mardi Gras and my life. Before motherhood my thoughts veered to everything that felt good FOR ME. Trust and believe I did not hold back. Indulgence and luxury were my specialty! Fine wine, fine food, fine arts only the best would do! That’s right I enjoyed and experienced all three not just once, nah, for me I went about the glamorous lifestyle for years. Over a decade I led the lifestyle that many only dream of and I did so without being a wealthy woman. God blessed me with my heart’s desire: a charmed life.
Then the moment came, just like my favorite St. Augustine, it wasn’t enough. I was not satisfied. I was still hungry. I found myself asking the classic existential question. Is that all there is? Was I born just to have fun? If so why wasn’t I having fun anymore? I found myself feeling very, very empty. I wanted to feel good again. I wanted the good times to keep going forever!
I felt this way one afternoon as I was leaving my favorite watering hole. During my usual stroll home, walking up the steepest hill in my city (great for the legs!), an unforgettable moment happened. A moment that existed outside of time and space. A moment that wasn’t brought about by the one glass of mediocre sauvignon blanc I had finished. A moment of transcendence.
The Holy Spirit spoke to me. “It’s time to go home.” I looked to my right and saw the Catholic church that I had passed by many times. “It’s time to go home.” I received instructions. Right there on the street. By myself. There were no flashing lights but it was the clearest moment of my entire life.
I walked back to my place. Opened the door. Picked up the phone. Called the church. “Hello, I’d like to join the Catholic Church. Can we begin the process?”
DIVA. It took bringing another life into this world to remember the life I was infused with from the beginning. God somehow downloaded this deep, internal knowing inside me. I could do anything with His help. As a child, I walked and spoke with more authority than a child should at times. I wasn’t spoiled or rude. I just had a deep sense of right and wrong. I wanted to learn the truth about the beauty and tragedy I saw in the world. I wanted everyone to know exactly what was on my mind and in my heart. This mindset created an amazing opportunity for me. It sent me to boarding school. Boarding school was a completely new adventure. Custom designed for an ambitious young woman. I remember walking on the grounds of my new home at 14, meeting other kids who would become lifelong friends, and somehow in those first days I got a title…DIVA.
People called me a diva. Me? Diva? I wasn’t exactly sure what other students meant except that I had once seen what people called a diva at the Met in New York City. My father had taken me to the opera when I was 11. We saw Salome.
The opera was like heaven for me. Sweeping steps, men in suits, women in beautiful dresses, and then the music! It was like nothing I had heard before about a topic I didn’t totally understand but I FELT the POWER of the voices. Opera. This art was exhilarating! The Diva was the centerpiece of this creation.
So when people referred to me as a diva, perhaps it was meant to bring me down or mock me as the new girl in town, but I thought “Yes! That is exactly who I am. I have a voice and it is powerful!”
I felt that way about myself.
Then I forgot who I was…