Soul Songs #24

Parables of Love, Part 2: The Guiding Light 

Yellows and oranges and pinks swirled across the cover of a thick clothbound text. Parables of Love for the Seeking was sewn in rich green threads around the front edges.The pages had those nice soft, uncut edges with tabs and flags marking favored quotes and sections. A rainbow of ribbons and bookmarks overflowed from the manuscript. But she knew just which one she wanted.

“We start our official lessons today, sweet Sarah,” Emma began.

The clouds parted and revealed bright, glowing godlight in the distance behind where Emma spoke. The big gallery windows of the yoga studio yielded completely to the rays, their panes invisible as the morning fog lifted. The sky still glowed gray beyond the reach of the beams radiating from the pale yellow orb, but the clouds no longer seemed threatening.

I checked my phone and the forecast no longer called for rain. Maybe the April showers were finally coming to an end and spring sun showers settling in.

I put my phone away to attune my energy and attention on my teacher. Emma had been my yoga instructor for three years now. Her group classes brightened my weeks, especially our Sunday morning sessions. We all came to class seeking rejuvenation for the week and we found it, Sunday after Sunday, as our energies merged and the music reverberated off the studio walls and mixed with our own frequencies.

Three weeks ago, I asked about private lessons. I just needed more. I couldn’t explain it, but I followed the prompting and I asked if she was available.

“I’ll only agree if you’re really ready,” she’d replied to inquiry.

I didn’t know what she meant at the time, but, of course, I said I was ready. Last week all we did was breathe and practice listening, so I was curious to see what this week would hold.

“I want you to look at the light. Focus on its subtle movement. Just look. Focus.” Emma lowered her voice bit by bit as she spoke, growing increasingly serene. I knew serenity should be my goal too. But…

I couldn’t help it. I laughed.

“Focusing is not really a strength of mine.”

She just smiled. “Focus, Sarah.”

The light then seemed to dance a bit as I looked at it. Nothing is ever completely still, I thought. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for my struggles sitting still or even with lying in savasana. We are always moving. Forward, I added to myself. I am here, in fact, to move forward.

I felt a calmness begin to overcome me.

“There you are. Now tell me what the light makes you think of?” Emma prompted.

“What do you mean?” I asked, “Like a flame, or like something deeper… I don’t know what your’e after here.”

“Sarah, I mean the lesson it teaches you. That’s what you’re here for, right?”

I nodded.

“Well, the lesson is yours. You already know it. So tell me what you’re thinking about.”

This was not what I expected. Not what I signed up for, I thought.

But then, for some reason, it came to me.

“It makes me think of a poem I wrote for my mom years ago, ‘The Ballad of the Guiding Light’. I gave it to her for Mothers Day. It had been a rough year. I’d been in and out doctors’ offices. I’d changed high schools again. She’d been considering remarrying and was filled with self-doubt. We both were. There had been a lot of tears that year, mostly alone in our rooms, never shared, but we’d known there’d been tears nonetheless. So…”

I paused, a lump forming in my throat as I remembered. I really hoped I wasn’t going to cry now.

“So… you wanted to give her a lesson in love, and tell her that she had taught you that the guiding light was still and always there,” Emma concluded.

“Exactly.”

“That’s your first lesson, Sarah. And it’s one you’ve already learned but sometimes forget. The light is always there. Tell me the lesson, Sarah. How do you know the light is always there. Remind yourself.”

So I began to explain how what had begun as night-lights and bed time songs and family prayers and transformed into something greater. I had learned, through my mother’s love, to see the light in others. At first, it was just her. I saw the twinkle in her eyes and how it never faded. I saw how she beamed when she was talking to children.

Soon, I could see it in the children themselves. Eventually, I learned to see it when she wasn’t even with me. I realized it wasn’t even her light. It was more than that. It was universal, pure and loving. Godlight, I called it, after reading that phrase in a book once in which the author described luminescent rays breaking through clouds. It was always there, somehow, even if forces tried to hide it.

Not clouds. Not sorrow. Not loneliness. Not pain. Nothing could put the light out.

And my mom taught me that. From night-lights to godlight, I knew the darkness could not endure. Light always breaks through.

I was crying by now, but smiling somehow.

“We’re almost done, sweetie. But you have more to say. Tell me more about that guiding light,” she paused, “godlight, I like that. I want to know what you’re not telling me. Something powerful happened in a moment when you knew forever that light would be with you. And, if you tell me, the lesson will never be lost.”

I came to Emma because I was lost. I knew she was right. I knew I had within me all the lessons I needed. I’d been given a rich and complicated life and so many blessings, but I was so unhappy. It  was time to remember what I already knew.

The guiding light is still there.

“About two years ago, I had the most amazing experience. And what I remember most was the light streaming through the windows, surrounding me…”

 

NOTE: Part III was published as Soul Songs 22 and immediately follows this section of My Soul Songs, Parables of Love

Soul Songs #23

He Knew

 

She looked downward, as if that could hide the tears that were about to fall.

She reached and put her hand on her heart to calm its racing.

He knew what to do.

He rose to join her.

His long stride quickly reached her side.

He gently put his arm around her.

She looked up.

They both smiled as their eyes met.

She returned to the task at hand with him by her side.

She still cried but she knew she could go on.

They both knew she could have done it without him there too, of course.

She did not need him.

She loved him, and there’s a difference.

They were stronger together.

They would never need to question.

They both knew.

And they always would.

Soul Songs #22

Parables of Love, Part III:

How Great Thou Art, A Lesson in Song

The sun shone through the time-streaked bay windows in the small chapel, appearing to reflect directly off the lawn’s morning dew upward to light the room. The space was cramped and decorated, if you could call it that, with only in browns and other shades that appeared to have transformed in the way aged pages yellow.

Dust particles danced in the sunlight.

A small upright piano stood in the center of the room, appearing out of place in the barren room. A few folding chairs, a small makeshift podium, and a bouquet of plastic flowers were the only other items in the room.

“So depressing,” she whispered to herself as she set up her music.

He had left this place nearly two years ago but it looked just as it had when she last said goodbye. She shuddered thinking about it, but still she’d agreed to do this. She had a feeling he’d want her to. Papa always loved to hear her sing.

She made a final mark on her sheet music and set the copy out for the accompanist before she sat down to wait and collect her thoughts. Eyes closed, as in meditation, her silent prayer called on the pure loving universe to fill her with the spirit of love and compassion, for her song to reach all the way to her dear papa, wherever he may be, and for her soul to be filled by His love as she sang His praise.

The room had begun to fill. Wheelchairs rolled in one at a time with the frail and infirm beginning to form an audience. A few residents made it in and slowly found a seat on their own with little support. She realized how long this was going to take and knew she could never just sit there as they all began to fill in to see her.

“Well, of course, they’re not here to see me,” she thought. Shaking her head with a smile she stood to begin mingling. “They’re here for their church services, for time out of their rooms, for a chance to sit in the sun. …not unlike me, really,” she concluded.

Several smiles, handshakes, and a few hugs later, they all joined in prayer and gave thanks for their time together. They listened to words of hope and thanksgiving. There was no lesson. There was no admonishment. There was only love.

Her heart was full by the time she stood to sing. And it was magical.

“Oh Lord my God, when I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,” her voice carried and seemed to lift beyond her. She would never be able to explain it but it was more than her voice. She was only the vehicle.

“I see the stars. I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed… .”

Bright blue eyes met hers with a steady gaze as the chorus began. An unspoken agreement was made and soon the two of them were singing in unison.

The sun had completed its ascent and its light now filled the room. She could not help but smile as it warmed her skin. She felt so alive.

“Then sings my soul, my savior, God, to Thee. How great Thou art!”

She was transported, some sort of electrical current seemed to enfolding and uplift her. Everyone was signing by the final chorus, even those who’d seemed unable to speak as she’d mingled earlier. She’d never experienced anything like this. All voices commingled in joyful shouts of acclamation. And those bright blue eyes reminded her so much of Papa.

Now, years later, she recalled the tears and joy as she held the little box of thank you’s they’d sent the next day.

“How can I get that feeling again?” she wondered. But she knew. So she prayed that her soul song be one of love and compassion on this day that it might reach all in need. And she felt the sun warm her skin. He was with her.

My Soul Songs #21

Truly Impressive

 

I’ve always been impressed with my ability to overcome.

I’ve just rarely loved myself for all I am.

“Not bad for someone who…”

Insert the randomly selected self-limiting descriptor.

 

Enter MS.

 

Now an MS fighter the phrase has been consistent.

“Not bad for someone dealing with MS, huh?”

I thought I sounded confident and self-impressed.

But I was limiting myself.

 

No more.

Not bad. Period.

In fact, I’m so much better than simply “not bad.”

strength-training-kettleball-weights-muscles-Tatomm-iStock_000063354919_Medium
MS: My Strength

“Impressive, huh?”

 

 

 

Soul Songs #20: Extraordinary Girl

“She’s all alone again wiping the tears from her eyes. Some days she feels like dying. She gets so sick of crying.” *

Though ultimately an optimist, I spent my childhood nights in tears worried about the future, scared I’d never find love, praying for my family. I was so scared I’d let people down and never be good enough. I even had a special pillow that I used exclusively for crying into so my sister with whom I shared a room, could not hear me cry.

I’d cry for hours sometimes. Then I’d take a deep breath, say another prayer and rest with the assurance that tomorrow was a new day and held new possbilities. I’d listen to music until I fell asleep and always awoke ready for the day, wearing a smile more times than not. I would even tell myself that no one ever needed to know how I really felt or how weak and scared I was.

I now have a life far easier than anything I’d known was possible. I’m comfortable. I’m confident in who I am. And I  become bolder and braver every year, more my true unabashed self. My prayers are mostly for others and offered in gratitude.

But I still cry. Comfortable is not the same as happy. Grateful is not the same as fulfilled. But I am not scared. I’m an extraordinary girl in an extraordinary world. I know that now.

*lyrics from Greenday