World events in the last few weeks have given me cause to wonder. In both positive and negative ways. I’m naturally a reflective person, so any time events happen, my heart turns to mulling over ideas and trying to understand. It’s been heartbreaking to see the response to attacks of terror, especially from those who label themselves Christ-followers or Christians. The response of fear, hatred, anger and venom have reflected something that is very Anti-Christ. It’s completely against the Good News that we are supposed to carry. So, this morning, I just wanted to take a moment and wonder what would be different if we chose to live in a place of wonder. To wonder and reflect on those things that we need to be challenged by and work on, and to wonder and reflect on those things that are brilliant and stunning and beautiful and filled with love and goodness.Read More
Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of guest posts emerge…
But the few over at Squidoo have been my favourites. They’re on gratitude and living lives that reflect gratitude more often.
So if you will, please make sure to go have a look-see. I’m quite proud of them, you know?
The series has been: Cultivating a Lifestyle of Gratitude
Post 3: Be An Encourager
And if you like them, please share the links! I’d love to see more people living out of a place of gratitude instead of worry. Blessings on you this holiday season and watch this space! More coming soon…
There’s a smell and a sound to it.
The chalky aroma of pancake make-up and slightly singed hair from curling irons.
The robust odor of people sweating under intense lights.
Slight decay and decades old musty mildew from ancient costumes.
From behind the curtain, the gentle murmur of hundreds of voices whispering in the dimly lit auditorium.
Young ladies and gentlemen humming their scales in warm-ups.
Consonants clicking and popping with various rhymes and verbal gymnastics.
The squeak and grinding of gears and sets.
And then the moment arrives. Instruments tune, a hush falls, and the whisper of the curtain drawing itself open to an overture.
I loved every minute of every show. From the three hours of preparation before to the hours afterwards. Fine tuning a fantasy until it came to life so realistically that the line between truth and fiction was blurred. I loved the auditions and the rehearsals, the endless hours painting and hanging lights and designing. I loved the theater. I loved it in a way that I never could describe or portray accurately enough.
The great craftsmen of musical theater had a gift for bringing the human experience to life. In some of my favorites, the very darkest shadows of the soul came to life. Carousel – the pain and twisted joy of an abusive marriage. West Side Story – gang violence and falling in love in an urban jungle despite the odds. Phantom of the Opera – sacrificing light for the sake of fame while watching your mentor crumble into insanity because of deformity. Les Miserables – war, vengeance, and a young mother abandoning her child. Even the Disney animated musicals from the 90s had this ability to capture the very essence of human existence. They told the simple truth that life is not fair, it is often ugly, but it is our Spirit that trumps those dark places. Light can always penetrate the darkness, and there is always a blessing to be found in love – however tragic it may be.
I miss it.
I can’t even say how much I miss it. I sing along to my favorite musicals, but it almost hurts to put the music in my playlists. When I hear the beginning bars of the Carousel waltz, my heart breaks for never having had a chance to sing those songs for an audience. When I hear “There’s a Place for Us,” one of my only regrets is that I never got to play Maria on stage.
That was my dream for the longest time. Playing Maria on Broadway. And only slightly less so? Singing as the voice for a Disney musical.
But times have changed. I’m older, I never made it in ‘the biz’ because I wasn’t splashy enough, wasn’t skinny enough, wasn’t *whatever* enough to cut it.
I never believed I would ever be enough to sing “I Feel Pretty” on the big stage.
But I think the beautiful thing about nostalgia, about hindsight and learning who I am… I know that feeling pretty isn’t about what others think about me. It’s about who I’m designed to be. The person that I was created to be. I was designed with a vision and a purpose. My dreams have significance and meaning. And I may never play Maria on Broadway, but I may just audition for some community theater when I return to the USA.
I may never be the image of a starlet that the world tells me I have to be in order to make it.
But I’m in the image of something far greater. Something that spoke worlds into being and whispers life into my own dreams. The music from West Side Story will never stop moving me, inspiring me, leading me to tears. And the truths in the lyrics will always rattle my sense of purpose:
There’s a place for us, a time and a place for us.
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there.
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there.
Somehow, someday, somewhere
I’m taking time to learn how to follow the dreams that I have and to lead others into the hearts of their own. I may never stand on stage again, but I just might chase that dream someday. I’m consciously deciding each day to live and believe that I am more than enough. Whether I’m overweight or short, or not dressed properly.
I am precisely where I need to be.
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there…
What dreams have you let go as you’ve gotten older? Do you ever have nostalgia or longing for them?
Do you dwell on all the ways you’re not ‘enough’ or do you allow yourself to be perfect exactly where you are?
We live in the idle world of the everyday, praying for something more, something meaningful for which to live. And when those things don’t come, we always hold onto the hope that someday they will appear. But do they? There is always hope, but sometimes that hope seems so distant and so unlikely.
We find something, someone to cling to. They give us hope in this dark, dreary world, where war is always just around the corner and fear is a part of our daily lives. We listen to announcements about curfews and curses. We spend half our lives in pursuit of a goal that will never satisfy. Until we, like the precious money we so covet, are completely spent. We lose our emotions, our willingness, our courage.
And I still want to get hurt.
Because I was willing to be vulnerable and to trust my hope.
Because I was willing to open the floodgates and invite someone else in.
Because I wanted something more.
I knew deep down inside that the pain and anguish that I would inevitably feel would dissipate to be replaced with strength. Nothing loved is ever lost or perished. I will not allow myself to live in fear of pain. I will not allow myself the luxury of regret.
Have you noticed that we don’t really have time or patience anymore? People, I mean. In general. We run ourselves ragged, exhausted. But at the same time, we crave the burnout. We crave the incessant busy-ness of our worlds. We thrive on drama because it gives us something to talk about. We can all be good conversationalists as long as we have something dramatic, bizarre, or strange going on. We have lost the art of making simple, meaningful conversation.
Somehow we have changed. Unless we’re hipsters or armchair philosophers sitting around drinking our particularly particular beverages and pontificating broadly about the world’s ills, few of us take the time to engage in thorough-going intellectually stimulating conversation. Discussions about politics dribble into ‘he-said-she-said’ criticism and blame for all the world’s problems. If we even acknowledge world affairs, it’s only to talk about which side we’re on. Faith, history, philosophy, art, and music have become politically incorrect. They have become taboo by nature of their requirements. They require tension and doubt and willingness to be wrong. It’s rare today to find a conversation partner without their iPhones or tablets. The beauty and mystery of the mind is losing sway as cultural memory drowns softly and swiftly in a sea of technological advances.
A Velvet Elvis hung on the wall. Next to a black velvet sunset. Beneath it sat a bright orange couch which I had fallen asleep on numerous times. This was my refuge, my safe place. It was public, so nothing could happen to me here. I was surrounded by those who loved me and would protect me at any cost. And once or twice a week, they would let me sing.
You walked into this place, and you felt a bustling sense of home. It didn’t seem to know its purpose, yet it seemed to be fulfilling it all the same. Tables out front had chairs filled with people, one hand casually drawing lit cigarettes to their mouths, ashtrays overflowing. The mugs steamed on the tabletop, decorated with drizzles of chocolate, swirls of whipped cream.
My chocolate drizzle was always the same. A treble clef. He said it was because I sang like an angel. No one ever really commented on my guitar-playing, but then again, I think the saying goes… “if you can’t say anything nice…”
And some nights, groups of us would laugh and dance. Or we would sit in the small pedestrian alleyway that led to the bathrooms. We would drum and we would sing, and our lives were rich and bohemian. Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love. We had it all.
When it closed forever, it sold everything. Including the Velvet Elvis.
I bought the velvet sunset. It reminded me of safe places, love and beauty.
And when the doors closed for the very last time, I walked down Main Street completely at a loss. Knowing that the bohemian girl was going to go into hibernation, and I didn’t know if she would ever return.