another story from the song journey.....
Thirteen years ago, when I was 31 years old, I hit the depths of despair. I guess everyone has their own story – what really constitutes loss for them. My loss may not seem like much to you, but it is based on what I valued, what I treasured, what I had placed my hopes and dreams on. And it got taken away. However, unbeknownst to me at the time, the loss held it’s own magical treasure which I have slowly unpacked year by year.
I had grown up with understanding that my life’s value revolved around the men in my life, my father and future husband. I learned intrinsically to know their needs and desires and that service to them was where my identity was held. My husband never desired this kind of value system, but I wasn’t even consciously aware that I held it and operated out of it. It created all kinds of chaos for our marriage.
Instead of an equal partnership, I sought to make my husband more than he was and I subtly placed all kinds of pressures on him. Not that he had not inspired me to do so as well! When I first met him, he was a young man full of adventure before him, dreams yet to be realized and excitement for the future. I was excited to partner with him.
Life doesn’t always unfold as you believe it will when you are twenty. One day my husband came to tell me he didn’t know if we could remain married. Our joint faith of Christianity had become something he could no longer identify with and he needed room to change. He didn’t know if he could remain with me, someone who still identified as a Christian, and he didn’t know if I would want to remain with him as one who could not.
In some ways, we were both in shock at this time.
Our wedding vows had been, ‘here we are Lord, send us’……putting our faith and the desire for service at the very epicenter of our relationship. If the epicenter was no longer there – did we have anything left?
So began a desperate journey to find out.
What I had valued……was disappearing before me.
A time for weeping had begun.
I went for counseling.
It was expensive. I had no money.
But I was desperate. I needed help.
So, I kept going.
One day, my counselor asked me a question. And it will ever be a moment that will remain with me. It is a moment that time stood still and made my soul pause and also awaken.
In her beautiful southern drawl, if only you could hear me say this in person to give you the full effect…..she said, ‘now Cathy, what do you want?’
It was not a question I was expecting. My thoughts were towards my marriage, my union, my utopia that was crashing.
And she brought me back to me.
What do I want?
What did you ask?
Not sure I know the answer to this question.
In fact, I am completely stumped by the question. I have absolutely no idea what Cathy wants. In fact, who the hell is Cathy?
I felt like a deer facing head-lights.
I had nothing to say and I couldn’t even think straight.
It may seem like a selfish question to ask, ‘what do you want?’. However, I have come to believe that our most innate longings, our deepest human desires are connected with our purpose, our deepest meaning. I do not believe it is ‘selfish’ to live into our calling, our purpose, our reason to live. In fact, I believe it is where we tap into some incredible joy …for ourselves and for community.
So that day, 13 years ago, after the appointment I left…..and began the process of wandering and wondering. What do I want? I felt like I was thrown out of an airplane and landed in a foreign land and there was no path. I just felt lost.
For two weeks I experienced a ‘not-knowing’. A confusion – but an honest search accompanied this confusion. Can I know? Is it possible to know? Where did Cathy go? Who is this person?
And then it happened. The moment. I was walking along a street. I mean these moments don’t happen during lightening storms or exotic times in the desert. They are part of the very ordinary moments of my life. But then these ordinary moments become the extraordinary, the supernatural, transformational, life-changing moments.
I was standing on the corner of North Decatur Road and Clairmont and pushing the button for the cross-walk. And this ‘thing’ rose up from a place inside of me that was unfamiliar to me then.
Sometimes I like to think of it as the kiss of the prince – it is what awakened me from my soul slumber.
‘I want to sing’.
This is what came bubbling up like a small soap bubble that is utterly fragile from this unknown place. I want to sing?
For those of you that know me now, you might think this is obvious, of course, Cathy sings. But oh no, you did not know me then.
I was a wife. I was a mother. I was a piano teacher. I did not sing. That was the fluff of the hidden dreams of a 7 year old…the secret passions of a 16 year old…..the given-up longings of a young woman who already felt past her prime of her twenties.
As my mother would say, it sure wasn’t very ‘practical’.
Someone asks, what do you want? And you say you want to sing?
It just sounds silly.
Or it did to me.
But there is something about being at that bottom place. When the realities of life are difficult and in some ways you feel you have already lost what is most precious to you. And there comes this awareness, what do I have to lose? I’ve already lost.
I’m already on ground zero.
So, let me become awake to this longing…..let me pay attention. Let me notice this fragile bubble of life that welled up from what I believe was a fragile soul. A soul that had gone to sleep because there was no room for her to live. A soul that had sacrificed itself for others to thrive but had lost knowing of it’s own value and worth. A soul that was hidden in darkness. voiceless, formless and without color.
But that day, the soul awakened and sent a message up to my consciousness. I will always be thankful that I had the courage at that point to listen to this fragile message.
And that moment began the journey of my voice. It became not only the voice to sing, but to express the cry, the beauty, the song of the soul. It became the journey to sing to souls all around me and invite them to wake up also. That moment began the journey beyond my personal crisis, and to rediscover why I am here on this planet.
And one of the reasons I am here is to sing.
And growing me in me now – 13 years later, is the longing to help others listen to the fragile voice within themselves.
Friend, what do you want?