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A Single Girl’s Prayer

From the looks of things lately my career is starting to get back on track, after six months of floundering. This is nice for me.

But what becomes difficult for me is that when everything else in my life is going well, it leaves me time to contemplate my loneliness.

Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing friends, and a loving and supportive family. But I am single, and there are times when I get very deeply lonely, I miss the love and support of a real relationship, something I have never known.

So I composed this prayer. Like most of my prayers it’s a little bit irreverent.

Dear Lord, please grant me the patience to wait for my husband
I know I am impatient to meet him.
I know that this must happen in your time not mine
But maybe send him in enough time that we can have our time
Before it’s baby time

Grant me the strength to sit at a bar by myself
And not accept drinks from sketchy dudes because I am lonely
Usually such dudes do not even want to get dinner
And I am better than that
However, also grant me the clarity to tell the difference
Between the sketchy dudes, and the ones who are just shy
Or maybe just had too many shots that night

Also please keep me away from shots.
Generally, that prevents a lot unwanted behavior

Please give me compassion on first dates
First dates are awkward for everyone
So it’s OK if it isn’t perfect
Also, grant me grace to hold my tongue
And maybe not talk about Batman the whole night

Give me the confidence to order real food
For you gave us the gift of carbohydrates, oil and fire
Thus french fries are a glorious gift from you, and should be treated as such
You also created lettuce, but I’m pretty sure it was Satan that decided people should consider chicken Caesar salad a meal

Please place me in the path of a good, kind man
The kind of man who isn’t afraid to admit he watched The OC, and is nice to his mother and sisters
The kind of man who is either taller than I, or doesn’t care if I’m taller than he in my super high heels
The kind of man who loves that I watch football on Sunday, but doesn’t expect me to know the name of every guy on the field
Let him drink beer, but know what kind of wine he likes and not use “gay” as a term for “stupid”
Let him love or at least be open to the music of Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffet, and humor me when it comes to Madonna and Lady Gaga

Please Lord, let him love me
Let him love my sour moods and my laughter
Let him love you, and my love for you.
And finally Lord, grant me the clarity to know when it’s him.
Don’t let me walk away.

Amen

“A Person’s A Person, No Matter How Small”

I’m currently in the ensemble of a community theatre production of Seussical. Seussical is (predicably) based on the collective works of Theodore Giesel or Dr. Seuss. Primarily, the plot weaves together the twin tales of Horton The Elephant (Horton Hears a Who and Horton Sits on An Egg) with The One Feathered Tail of Gertrude McFuzz and The Better Butter Battle. 

Whenever I think about Horton Hears  A Who, I start thinking about God’s love for the individual. (I think about God’s love for the individual a lot of the time.)

The line “a person’s a person no matter how small,” is a nugget sized philosophy for the idea of the soul. Your soul is the essence of yourself, so therefore, it is what God loves. God loves the soul, and recognizes the soul of the human being.

A person’s a person no matter how small.

It’s a such a simple thing and yet so hard to forget. I’ve decided to start using it for meditation. I pray through meditation almost daily My meditation is kind of off beat. I use random phrases, like mantras in yoga devotion, music that speaks to me spiritually (Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands” usually makes an appearance, “Christmas Lullabye” from Songs For A New World also) and the Rosary.

So, for the next week when I sit down and breath in and out and focus on God and quiet my mind, and one of the things I will focus on will be “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Taking Wing

God gave me my voice.

I think about that every time I open my mouth to sing.

I’m a good singer, I could have been great, but I was not a very disciplined teenage. To be great at anything you have to be disciplined, but to be great at music you have to be practically single minded.

But I loved to sing. I was uncomfortable in my own skin as a teenager, and singing was an escape from that. I could get lost in a song, be someone else for three or four minutes.

I wasn’t Reenie, the chubby teenager from New Jersey when I sang. I was Anna Leanowens, teaching the princes and princesses of Siam, I was Diana Morales fighting for her spot in a Broadway chorus, I was Fantine calling Valjean to heaven with her.

God gave me my voice.

As I got better, I stretched more. I sang “art songs.” There were no characters for these. So I imagined the girls who sang these songs. “Come Again, Sweet Love Doth Now Invite,” was sung by a girl at her pianoforte, in a parlor in the English countryside somewhere. “Caro Mio Ben,” by a maidservant in a renaissance villa while she went about her chores. “Ave Maria,” well, “Ave Maria” was different.

I didn’t hide in “Ave Maria,” there is no where to hide. There’s nowhere to hide in the notes, which move so slowly and deliberately that anyone can catch a mistake. And there’s nowhere to hide in the song. It’s a prayer. It’s the Hail Mary.

Even when I was young and insecure, I was devoted to the Blessed Mother. I cried over the “Ave Maria,” cried with frustration, with disappointment. I knew I couldn’t hide, I couldn’t find another girl to sing this one. That would be a lie, and she would know.

God gave me my voice.

Mary taught me how to use it.

The first time I ever sang “Ave Maria”, in front of people, was at the Mass that celebrated my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. I was seventeen. I was terrified. My grandpa looked at me, squeezed my hand and whispered in my ear.

“We’re all so proud of you. The Blessed Mother doesn’t care if you make a mistake.”

I was free then. I sang. I hit every note. I cried, but not in frustration, not in fear. I cried in relief.

To this day “Ave Maria” is still the only song I’ve never pretended to be someone else while singing. It’s also the only song that I’ve ever been great on. I know that.

Because God gave me my voice.

Mary taught me how to use it.

And I gave it back to praise her.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses as We forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

Yesterday I sat with the little girl I’ve been tutoring, Emily, and we talked about the sacrament of reconciliation and God’s forgiveness. I knew this was going to be hard for me, since I’ve always struggled with reconciliation.

I’ve simply never had a good experience with the sacrament. When I go to priests that I know and trust, they are generally family friends, and I feel as though they are judging me, or will run right off and tell my mother how awful I am. I know this is irrational, but it’s never inspired me to really let go the way I need to, you know?

With priests I don’t know, the insecurity is worse…way worse. I feel a need to justify everything that I say or do. But I understand the need for the sacrament, I simply haven’t received it in almost ten years. When I was sixteen I felt that I was being chastised by a priest when I confessed and asked for advice about underage drinking and the tiny bit of drug experimentation I was considering. I was so hurt, confused and upset by the experience that I stopped going.

So when I began talking to Emily about confession, and God’s grace and forgiveness, and I found myself for the first time with her, talking about something that I wasn’t sure I believed in. I explained, in a practical sense why we’re supposed to go to confession, and the need for the sacrament and all of that. Luckily she didn’t ask too many questions, because I honestly wasn’t sure how to answer them.

What she did ask about was forgiving other people, when I said that it was an important part of being a Christian. She understood that when people asked for forgiveness, or say they’re sorry you should accept. Actually this is what she said:

“That’s like when your friend says something mean, but then they’re sorry, so then you’re friends again. But what if they don’t say they’re sorry, or they keep being mean to you?”

I swallowed and this was my answer: You still have to forgive them. That doesn’t mean you take it. You don’t have to be alright with people being mean to you. Forgiving them means that you don’t carry it around with you. You let it go. It’s their problem, not yours, and by forgiving them, by not carrying around that anger with you, you keep it from being your problem.

She seemed to like that answer, and I was pretty proud of myself. Until this little theory of mine got tested later in the day. In the summers I run a community theatre program for young adults (ages 18-35) with my best friend from high school. This year both she and I have pulled back our involvement a lot, because the whole thing is incredibly stressful and it very nearly destroyed our relationship last summer.

Because of that, decisions that used to just be between us are being discussed and analyzed by a staff of about 7 people. And because of that I get my way a whole lot less than I used to, which is hard for me. One such example was the decision to include as a rehearsal pianist someone who I dislike working with a whole lot. We’ve worked with him in the past and he tends to hijack whatever situation he is in to make it far more dramatic than need be.

We’re a week in to our rehearsal process, and this person was still holding it over our heads whether or not he would be our pianist. This would be fine, except we didn’t have a backup (he was our back up) and I was frustrated. While trying to confirm whether he would be helping us out, he responded with a line of information so off from the actual situation, (and that basically called my partner and best friend a liar) that I was in a rage.

I know that this guy is not going to apologize, because I know him. But I’m having trouble taking the advice I gave to Emily. This is someone who was disrespectful to me, my friends and something that I have worked for three years to build. But I also know that carrying around my anger is pointless. I have to forgive him and move on. I can’t control his attitude, I can control mine and set an example.

Emily also mastered the Lord’s Prayer yesterday, and I was so proud of her. (We start and end each session with it.) When we finished, and we prayed, and reached, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Emily stopped and looked at me.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

“That’s like you said,” she explained. “Earlier, you said, we need to ask God to forgive us when we do bad things, and we need to forgive other people who do bad things to us.”

So that’s what I’m trying to do. No matter how hard it is.