Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day to You!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, rather than eating a meal of corned beef and cabbage...
Or drinking and toasting over a glass of whisky, "Irish holy water" as my priest called it this morning (he kills me)...
Or looking for a little leprechaun with his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow...
I thought I would celebrate with each of you through this gorgeous prayer.

Though assumed to be written by an anonymous source, it is attributed to St. Patrick because the prayer was written in the spirit of faith through which Patrick converted much of Ireland.  The shortened version lives on a piece of paper right next to my bedside.

For me, it is a poignant reminder of a time with my sisters, taking turns reading it aloud around the hospice bed of my father...our favorite Irishman.  

St. Patrick's Breastplate

I arise today 
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

{Note: A shorter version of this prayer with just the 15 lines about Christ above is often all of the prayer that is offered. The conclusion follows below.}

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.



For me,
I arise today grateful for each of you readers.
Grateful for His light in my life.
Grateful for the Holy Spirit who guides my words (whenever I ask!).
Grateful for every blessing and affliction in my life as they all lead me closer to Him and His infinite love.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

...and thanks for reading...

Image cred:  Bing images, Creative Commons

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cure for a Lingering Cough



Day after day.
Week after week.
I collapse on the couch and my eyeballs leak.

Cough is hacking.
Muscles wracking.
Jaw's a' clacking.
Lungs are cracking.
Feel the illness deck is stacking.
'Cause my health is fairly lacking.

"Why, dear Lord?" I plea and pray.
"How much more? Still one more day?"
No answer. "K, I'll go to Mass
And be assured 'this too shall pass.' "

So in I walk to my holy place,
Kneel on the rest, tilt up my face
Then feel - I'm still and know - no doubt
There'll be a day for a sickness "out."

"You got it, Lord, my faith supreme.
My health restored won't be a dream.
You know the path...call stars by name.
I trust my cure will be the same."

Well, up I stood to greet the day...
Joined the church in what to say
Then fairly laughed when I read along
And saw the lyrics of the song.

"As for me, I trust in the Lord.
Let me be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,
for You have seen my affliction." - Psalm 31:7-8

{Trusting in Him fully for cessation to this illness.
Until then, using the words of this opening antiphon...
this Psalm of assurance...
as a balm for my soul.
Thanks for reading.}

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Whole New (Grace-Filled) World

It's amazing how God's grace is all around us.  
Naturally, sometimes we have to look around the corner and under the shrubbery for it.  
Still other times, it just hurls itself at us like this amazing, loving flying carpet...hitting us in the head then grabbing us in the heart.

Last week was one of those weeks for me.

Genie blue and Aladdin purple...thank you Eisenhower & Hill Elementary Schools!
I have been teaching an outreach program designed by Disney Theatricals in New York.
That's the Broadway arm of the Disney body.
The "Disney Musicals in Schools" goal is to build sustainable musical theater programs in public schools, especially at this time in our American history where music is systematically being cut from schools at an alarming rate.
The mission is near and dear to my heart.
Ah, the blessing of such a program.

Hired by Disney Theatricals along with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, eight of us teaching artists have been directing a Disney musical in four public schools for 17 weeks.
Our undertaking has been two-fold.
Teach the kids musical theater terminology, choreography, music, staging and direct a full musical to be seen spring 2015.
Aaaaaannnnddd....teach the teachers how to teach musical theater.

The first goal was a cake walk.  I've been doing that type of thing for 20 years.
The second was a bit more of a challenge.
Turns out it's a fine line between giving a gentle push and needing to shove off a cliff.
...between being collaborative and being bossy.
...between feeling ownership over a project and loving it enough to let it go.
Oh, the growth that occurs when you tow that line.

Yet even after all of these years teaching, there are still moments that overwhelm me with the profundity of my job.  Last week, at our final dress rehearsal on Monday afternoon, my teaching partner, Megan, and I were surprised with personal letters and cards from each child...60 children took the time to write to us.  To say that we were bowled over is an understatement.  We sat in our director's chairs (translation: rusty, metal folding chairs) in the theater (translation: multi-purpose cafetorium) reading the cards, alternately growing tickled then misty.  Still when I opened up the card from Cecilia, an incredibly shy and reserved Asian 6th grade girl, you could have knocked me over with her words.

On the left was a tribute to Ms. Megan (who was clearly adored - and definitely the favorite of dear Cecilia)...it's not mine to share, so I won't save one sentence:

"You're a bright, positive, funny, energetic, pretty, sunny little flower!"

I mean, come on!  This was enough to make me start to well up.  Then I looked to the right on the card and saw my pencil-drawn border...hearts.  The tears started to flow as I read:

The illustration...so dear.

"Dear Ms. Cynthia,

Hi, you've also helped more alot, but not just in acting.  You helped me become a better singer, taught me how to put on a show, and you broke me out of my  shell.  I was a seed and Ms. Megan was the sun, but you were my water.  You helped me grow.  You're the kind of person that would make me smile and laugh."

I. simply. can't.

Of course, beyond the words, which in and of themselves were incredibly deep, there was the message from Him.  I was telling my friend, Jason, about the card and he said, "Your tree!  The seeds!  It's your app."  I was overwhelmed that I wasn't the only one who recognized such a blatant outreach from my Father who sent me this gift despite the times I struggled through my work...nay, His work:
That work of teaching...forming...planting...sowing.

Overwhelmed, I tell you.

Now on the Tuesday after all of the performances are finally spent, I look back on... 
the flowers, 
ticket stubs,
and heartfelt words...
And I know.

My gifts are His.
My work is His.
His grace is in all of it.
And it is enough.

{Praying each of you find His grace
 in whatever work you are doing 
today and each day.  
Thanks for reading.}