I had to sit with this one for a couple of days...
It had begun with a notion that perhaps I could offer something. The catch was that instead of writing at my desk, my comfortable place, I’d be required to stand before a crowd and speak; an act that despite much experience, remains, well...counterintuitive. Because this would take place in a theater venue, it would also require me to participate in a measure of promotion ̶̶ in this case, social media, newspaper exposure, and live radio. Still, there are times when one must transcend, and seeing this as yet another opportunity to move beyond ego, submitted a proposal to contribute as part of the Waterbury Palace Theater’s speaker series, 2nd Act. As the name implies, it involves the telling of stories about how life evolves in new and unexpected ways. They said yes.
I’d done this kind of thing before. Since my first book, Into the Thin published, there had been book talks, pilgrimage talks, podcast appearances, and interviews. And yet I’d never had the opportunity to tell this particular story (other than on the pages of the book itself), to describe the experience of Grace as it moves across a landscape of life. This was what I felt might be helpful...the aforementioned offering. These are, after all, troubled times when a certain darkness hovers about us. Maybe I could offer another way to see that darkness. Altruism tends to create opportunities for Spirit to make itself known, but it’s always the bank shot...never straight-on.
An audience member arrives to an event like this with only a vague idea of what is to follow. In a way, they surrender to this by simply arriving. What actually brings them through the door takes on many appearances, but it is unique to each. The speaker, on the other hand, knows precisely what they are about to hear and see. This is assumed by all. Unless...
I arrived early to set up and get wired for sound, and chatted with the audio engineer and my theater host as I awaited my audience. Curiously though, instead of the usual anticipatory anxiety (that counterintuitive thing), I found myself oddly at peace and rest. This should have been my first clue. Folks began to drift in, and as they did, I wandered around to greet them and thank them for attending. It was during this time when things got interesting, for many of them were arriving not from their homes or work, but out of my own past. And they arrived in remarkable ways that defied understanding...to join friends who’d suggested attending, yet not even knowing who I was until they got there. They arrived on the heels of a randomly heard radio program they never would have otherwise been listening to. Some had been unsuspecting angels who’d first arrived to me years before under the pretense of seeking my assistance, yet in this time were living miracles of survival. Some even had unexpected connections to each other. Yet none of them could have possibly seen the extent of each other's connection to me.
During times like these, one can only wonder and stand in awe of that which could make such a thing happen. When I took the stage, I looked out and saw something remarkable, yet something so essential. I saw the one of us, living compassion, utter Truth waiting to hear of something from its holy self. The audience take away? Completely and wholly one with the speaker’s.
A perfect evening. God is great.