Last weekend I was treated to a wonderful performance of “Shrek the Musical” thanks to my 13-year-old son Blais, who played the part of Pinocchio. I am a big musical theatre fan. (Did you know I studied musical theatre at American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC, and Broadway shows were my dream?) So, apart from enjoying the showtime, I love running lines with Blais and watching him practice his songs.
One day, on our way to a rehearsal, he was practicing his lines: “Aw, something better will come along,” he sighed. He then continued in a sad, hopeless Pinocchio voice: “We just have to wait for it because that’s what all fairytale creatures do. We wait for miracles… We wish upon a Star.”
He looked at me and explained: “They have nowhere to go. Shrek wants them out of his swamp.”
Then he turned his practice CD on and the music started. There was some more dialogue, and then Pinocchio ‘got it’! “Wait! We may be freaks, but we are freaks with teeth and claws and magic wands, and together we can… “ Blais’ voice was getting so strong and so passionate, I felt a revolution was coming.
“Yes!” I interrupted him all excited. “That’s it!!! We never have to wait for miracles… We have exactly what we need to find solutions and make our lives beautiful!”
He sat back in his seat and smiled gently: “Ok, Mama, it’s just a play.”
“Write about your personal faith experiences and prayer life, amid the hectic busyness,” Pat emailed me, responding to a question I posed a while back on what topics would be helpful to you.
Pat mentioned my perseverance – how I had gotten through many challenging times, both personal and professional. Pat has been following us a long time – as many of you have. I started sending out a newsletter in 1997 (via USPS) and never stopped. No matter what was happening in my hectic and busy life, yeah, I persevered. I would pull myself out of bed and I’d show up – at a thousand concerts, through storms (both environmental and personal), illnesses (I performed with 102.5-degree fevers and several times with a massive case of laryngitis), and the losses of my dad (who died of cancer at age 56) and of my husband. I really had no choice. My music was our family business that provided for our three sons. (And although my husband Matthew was incredibly talented and could have found a different line of work, his faith in my ability to persevere and keep going gave me strength, too.)
I always believed in God’s presence in my life and felt supported by a Love that’s bigger than I could have ever understood it – or explained it (I’d look at my babies and see God in their eyes)… But even so, there was a time when I felt utterly lonely and invisible to God.
From where I am today, I know that though it felt very real, the ‘separation’ I was experiencing was only an illusion – born out of my own fears. I was afraid that no matter what I did, I could never do enough to ‘earn’ the Grace I so desired in my life.
I felt like no matter how many deeply spiritual and prayerful concerts I did, it wasn’t enough. No matter how many Masses I attended, or prayers I prayed, there was always ‘more’ I could – or should, or was supposed to – be doing: signing up for adoration, praying the rosary, the chaplet, attending retreats and going on pilgrimages… Others I met on my tours did so much, and I simply couldn’t catch up.
This was a battle I was never going to win. And also one that I actually didn’t even need to fight.
God was already present in my life.
All I had to do was to actually realize that; stop trying to make ‘time’ for God – and, instead, become aware of the Love and divine Grace that were a part of all of my time.
Yes, that meant stopping often during the day and silencing the noises of my hectic life – but I could do that between two sentences of an email I was writing, between two breaths in a song I was singing, on my way to a parent-teacher conference, or as I do the accounting or shop and prepare our everyday dinners.
The more I simply became aware of God’s presence in all that surrounds me, the less effort it took. Gradually my prayer life became one with my life.
And the more this practice becomes one with our lives, we begin to experience more compassion, peace, gratitude, love and everything life-giving. This then calms us down, quiets the fearful voices and our need to ‘control’ every bit of our world, allowing us more space to sit still, contemplate and listen… just ‘be’ with God. (Can you tell I am a contemplative? ;))
We don’t wait for miracles, or magic wands… we embrace the gift within – and that gift is the presence of mind-heart-and-spirit to recognize the loving, life-giving force that God’s presence is in each and every moment.
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