We Are Magnificent
I couldn’t sleep so I watched “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix. It’s a story of a prodigy, a chess master, who got her first glimpse of her mind’s magnificence because the orphanage she lived in used tranquilizers to subdue children. Back in the 1950s and 60s that was common practice. As the series presents it, under the influence of the drugs, she relaxed, and her genius broke through.
Afterwards, I watched addictive clips of “golden buzzer” moments from America’s Got Talent. Performers audition before celebrity judges. A riveting audition unfolds. A thrilled judge springs up and hits “THE buzzer” which releases a rainstorm of gold confetti onto the awed performers. This sends them to the next level of competition.
Golden Buzzer performers often invited a stereotype when they stepped on the stage: maybe they were shy, nervous; maybe they were children or elders; maybe they had a disability; maybe their size, hairstyle, dress or manner was outside the bell curve.
The judges ask the performers to introduce themselves, which gives them and us, time to form an impression. “Show us who you are,” the judges say. Expectancy. Hush.
Will the performers find courage? Will they live our stereotype? Or, will magic happen?
We hear a grace note – the first sound of an instrument or vocalization. We inhale with the performer. And then, from deep inside the fragile being on the wide stage, an unexpected voice, a stunning voice, the voice of God, music straight up from the soul fills the theater. We are captivated. The audience jumps, claps, waves, shouts.
Amidst the shower of gold confetti, almost every time, the performers raise their hands up to cover their mouths, cover their eyes. They bend over, as though bowing to themselves. The recognition is too much to take in – they have been magnificent.
In an unpublished manuscript, my spiritual teacher, Sydney Banks, wrote: “God…may be that something an artist feels is missing from his canvas; the author feels is missing from his book. We all KNOW what we are because WE ARE that thing, that Spirit, God or whatever. There is no escape from yourself.”
Our godliness, the ineffable beauty we know we are defies expression, we cannot get it perfect. We are propelled to step from underneath our doubts and show up in spite of them. And sometimes in the trying, there it is, we jump and stick the landing – we cannot escape from who we truly are.
One of the best parts of the all-girls Catholic high school I attended was the concert choir. I was a soprano, but I could also hit the high descant notes. There were 100 girls in the choir, a few who were destined for careers in music. They played instruments AND sang – theirs were beautiful, clear strong voices. Mine was no match.
“I want you to audition for the solo,” Sr. Francilene said. My music teacher and choral director, she was a vibrant, petite young nun and a taskmaster. She held her conductor’s baton in one hand and a sheaf of music in the other, her stance brooked no argument. Glossy brunette hair peeked out of her veil, her dark eyes penetrated, and her mouth, red without lipstick, was pursed in a determined smile. “Yes sister,” I said.
From my chair in three rows up in the tiered choral room, I watched, elbows on my knees, as the expected girls auditioned. My courage withered. I could never be as good. But an energy in my solar plexus hammered against my skin to show up alongside the shining stars. I raised my hand to take a turn. My voice shook. Astonished, I got the solo.
“Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,” I sang.
I heard my voice, pitch perfect, true, and dulcet, amplified through the microphone into the dark hush of the gymnasium.
I stood in a spotlight, my strawberry-blonde hair cascading in ringlets down my back thanks to a beauty salon visit. My body shook, hidden by the baby blue gown, our choral uniform, that my mother had sown. My palms sweated, hidden by formal white gloves. I heard the beauty in my own voice as it reverberated, and the hearing called it forth stronger. I stood tall next to the ebony grand piano.
“From tender stem hath sprung,” I sang. My heart rang out. I sang, full throated. I sang, supported by the breath of life into the Christmas-bedecked theater. I sang my true beauty. I was magnificent.
These days a lot of us are singing Truth. I hear it in the writers I sit with in Zoom for two hours a week sharing writing practices. Voices of raw, healing power. Authentic, deep voices. Wise, clear voices. We are magnificent.
I see it in the stunning photography friends and family post on Instagram and Facebook, frames that capture Truth, the palette of human emotion, the depth of human love. We are magnificent.
I see it in the fabulous art people post, aching and gritty, surreal and impressionistic, caricatured and true-to-life. We are magnificent.
I watch it as women, people of color, indigenous people, and marginalized groups step up and declare Truth. We are magnificent.
Social media has drawbacks for sure. But, along with blogs and self-publishing, it has created platforms for Truth to be shared far and wide, loud and clear.
Speaking through writing remains hard for me. I can’t quite put my finger on what I see as Truth. The words fall short. I shrink back when I do my best and others are critical. I know I’m not alone in this…these slips in confidence are expressed in every creativity group I’ve participated in.
What if Syd Banks is right? What if we WILL feel this way, we WILL sense this gap in our abilities, because, in the end, the Godliness that we are is ineffable, not able to be uttered, indescribable? What if in all our singing, speaking, and creating, as doubting, uncertain, imperfect as the process is, we are God-making? We are finding the Truth of who we are. We are evolving our understanding forward. It is the trying that counts.
Though I struggle to sing and speak these days through writing, though I sit every day with clients who doubt their worth, though the world seems full of chaos, despair and uncertainty about truth, I am filled with optimism. We are singing. We are speaking. We are crying out. The energy is palpable and noticed.
Leonard Cohen wrote that “God is alive. Magic is afoot.” How did he know? Certainty for our times. Truth.
Let us be magnificent.
Copyright 2020: Linda Sandel Pettit, Ed.D.
Photo: Courtesy of iStockPhoto.com
Dr. Linda Sandel Pettit, a priestess-at-heart and retired counseling psychologist, can be found at www.thedrspettit.com. She loves putting her intuitive nature, spiritual understanding and clinical experience in service to others. She is available for on-line and phone psychospiritual and intuitive conversations. During November 2020, take advantage of the THANKSGIVING coupon – individual sessions are half-price and $25 will be donated to a Food Bank. For information about fees and packages, visit BOOK NOW. Email Linda for more information or fee assistance.