C.S. Lewis told me that I'm a mere player on the stage -that the REAL me exists outside of the stage -in the darkened wings and the unseen balconies, and that I can't tap into The Real Me until my part is finished, until I've washed off the stage make-up and hung up the costume... in short: until I die.
This makes absolute sense to me because I feel The Real Me at certain sacred times in my life, and each time I do, I find a sense of home that feels even more HOME than the four walls that house me right now.
Writing does it to me -leaves me with a sense of other-worldliness that feels more like visiting a departed twin I've never met rather than an alien encounter.
Certain songs will transport me to my "other" home, remind me that I'm still playing my part on stage and that there's a wide world waiting in the wings and beyond.
But surely, PRAYER is my biggest, fattest surest freest ticket to my Homeland, to Father and Mother.
Prayer has been my golden ticket in these last years. I always pick up a ONE WAY ticket, fully intending to never leave God's presence, but something always, always pulls me back to the bright draw of the stage lights.
God knows how I can't let go of that stage. Even when we're together, it seems like all I can talk about is The Play. I'm consumed with it.
He knows all about The Play.
He wrote it. He produces it. He is the audience, the crew, the set designer. Alpha and Omega!
I ask Him questions, and sometimes He replies. Sometimes He raises His eyebrow and sometimes He just smiles while I work out answers for myself.
I'm doing a scene right now titled, "Of Mice and Mold."It's really pretty grotesque.
It hold the familiar old plot line of health issues, one that I can't seem to shake. Maybe my character plays the part well? I don't know. This is something I ask Father when I happen to buy a well-intentioned "one way" ticket.
The set looks something like a blue-collar rental, adorned with antiques and dirty clothes. There's a baby painting her own fingernails, a young boy and girl arguing over who called whose imaginary friend stupid, and Me. Me is wearing my LEAST favorite costume: work clothes. I'm curled up in the comfiest chair.
There's a television show on in the background, a nearly empty milk carton in the fridge and leftovers on the counter that have grown some fascinating mounds of mold.
And as I sit with a heating pad on my side, hoping to quell the pain roaring from under my right rib and calm the nausea that comes in dreaded waves, a mouse scurries around the edge of the stage.
I want to care, but I'm too tired. I'm SO tired.
I find that in previous acts, I've had to let go of expectations in my marriage. I've had to leave my 50th anniversary bash and dreams of grey-haired front porch hand-holding in the hands of The Playwright.
THAT was hard.
I yelled into the blackness of the audience at that point.
"You expect me to go along with this?" My hair curled, my body toned and able, my make-up as pristine as was in my power to procure.
It was my DIVA moment, The Diva Scene.
Of Mice and Mold is unfolding in what feels like YEARS away from The Diva Scene. I'm not sassy and stamping my feet. At this point, I'm looked less plucky and more sucky, defeated and tired.
"It's been 5 years," I whisper to the footlights because I know The Director well enough by now to know that HE WILL HEAR ME even if I don't yell, even if I don't stamp, even if I don't speak at all, "and still. I am being asked to give more of my future. I am being asked to give all. I don't know if I can."
Can I surrender my ENTIRE future to God? Can I trust Him with my health and my kids and my bank account?
With the mice?
I haven't even mentioned the mold!
These are the questions I put at His feet on my Prayer Train visits.
His answers are always so pure and delicious.
"Stop worrying about The Play, Alicia," He closes His eyes to match my closed eyes, "And let Me."
His calming words make the mice and mold feel like distant pebbles in my shoes -the kind I kick out in an instant. I remember that The Play is a blip on the radar. It's so easy to forget, so easy to get wrapped up in my lines, the set, the banter.
At that moment, the Real Alicia and The Real Father touch souls so intimately and deeply that I can't imagine ever opening my eyes and breaking our connection. In that moment, God knows my deepest longings to live a life filled with Mother Teresa's charity, C.S. Lewis' wisdom, and Erma Bombeck's humor. He knows my shame, my strength, my fears and my hopes. It is the most vulnerable love I know. I am completely exposed, yet all around me is insurmountable support.
It is Heaven on Earth.
And I CLING to it right up until the mouse scurries across from stage right, and then my eyes fly open. I'm back.
The Plot floods my mind: get the nail polish away from the baby, keep the chocolate from the dog. Put the fighting children outside, and don't forget to eat even if everything makes me sick. Do I have any bleach? Can I make it to the store? Does anyone have any clean clothes?
My serenity is threatened constantly on stage -maintained only by the heavenly hangover that comes when I access my Real Me, my True Home.
I remember today is just today, and my only job is to be as present as I can be in it for God has a new act around every corner.
The great tragedies only come when I spend my time trying to predict and manage the upcoming acts -to grieve over my mistakes in the acts I left behind. I try to balance every scene all at once instead of simply playing the one at hand and leaving the managing and writing to God.
Tonight, I touched The Real Me.
This makes the impending tomorrow easier. Though the mold will grow and the mice will somehow find their way from the barn to my home and the pain in my body will insist on playing it's own shadowy part... I remember the Play is just The Play.
And God, who is within and without, knows me very, very well.