Where do you find yourself today? Yes, it’s just one week before the official Thanksgiving celebration day. But where are you today, at this very moment? Are you thankful; and, if so–for what…for whom?
Perhaps you are thankful for everything in your life: the joy of a new lover or life partner, happy children, healthy parents, a likable job, a budding career…the list goes on…. To this I say, Hallelujah!
But what if few or even none of these blessings are within your view? What if you are stumbling through your days, unable to see any future through the blur of your anguished tears? What if you are so strangled by loneliness and hopelessness that you are unable to move from your bed? What if you are so overcome with life’s struggles that you feel you cannot go on? Where to turn? Whom to call?
A Lover of God:
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
—Bible; New King James Version: Psalm 116: 1-2
Yes, and so it was for me:
New York: Feisty, Fabled and Fabulous
Elaine Steele - Chanteuse
New York looks and sounds just as I’ve seen it and heard it in my dreams: a frenetic circus of dissonant noise emitting from narrow streetscapes; yellow cabs honking their way into the heart of the city; pale sunlight shadowed out by huge horizontal buildings and tall vertical heights; glass and steel gleaming over the ant colonies of people below. In awe, I crane my neck, and for the first few days, sleep is out of the question. There’s too much to see, too much to do and too much reality to avoid.
“But what are you planning to do?” my friend Eleanor finally asks after a few days in her apartment.
“Everything,” I reply out loud…. Everything that’s important to me, I murmur to myself. No, I didn’t visit the Empire State Building, the United Nations or the Statue of Liberty. I stayed in my own area, 150 West 58th Street, within walking distance of Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Fifth Avenue and Macy‘s.
I’d started my New York sojourn in the fancy St. Moritz Hotel across from Central Park, upon the invitation of a rich Texan fan and his wife, but, after two days of high living as their guest, I moved down the accommodations ladder to my friend Eleanor’s place. Those first days with her were time enough to find my way around my part of New York: prowling the theatre district, searching out a trustworthy agent, inquiring about an “interested” coach and finding the best cafeterias at the lowest price. Within a week, sensing Eleanor‘s impatience, I agreeably moved a few doors down the street to a typical Manhattan brownstone with the compulsory New York doorman standing in the doorway, typical of the sixties, who was surprisingly friendly when I approached him.
Looking alright from the outside, inside the building bore witness to the hopeful hunters of show-biz fame and fortune who had frequented the premises and left, probably no less scarred than the peeling paint and stained wallpaper facing me now. Nope, I’m not going to be one of them, I thought, as I turned the worn brass key and stepped inside the room. Switching on the main light, I thankfully saw there was a window, which now cast a two-foot square of light on the bed. This will do, I thought, at least I’ll know day from night, and I can shut New York out or let her in, any time, depending on my mood. And so my love/hate affair with New York began….—Priests in the Attic (p. 75)
Repentance—the Place and Time:
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
A tear in every stitch
My dream of singing in Manhattan was close, within my grasp, but the price was too high. Still angry at my stupidity inletting things go as far as they did, more importantly, there was the recognition that my burning ambition was out of control. It had put me in real danger—both physically and morally. The stakes have gone up; I thought. I have to fold, but, where to go … what to do? “Show me the way,” I whispered.
Stumbling along Fifth Avenue, eyes blurred by stinging tears, I push my way through hordes of Saturday afternoon shoppers to find myself in front of St. Patrick‘s Cathedral. Distraught, looking for answers, I fumble my way up the broad steps to the huge oak door, fully expecting it to be closed. As I clutch at the worn brass handle, the formidable door swings open, and I step inside….Exhausted by the emotions of the week coupled with tears of confusion and increasing self-doubt, I collapse in a front pew. Time passes….
Finally, my frustrated tears subside; I feel peaceful, safe in a place of stillness and serenity—another sphere. Transfixed, I want to stay within this realm forever. Falling into a prayer-like meditation, I silently ask for some direction, any direction away from the loneliness and guilt I am mired in. Silence….
Then a draft … ever so slight, followed by the merest whisper:
“Elaine”—I hear my name uttered softly in my ear, a light touch on my shoulder. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. You’ll never be alone again.”
Opening my eyes, I looked around. I’d just heard the kindest words I’ll ever know, but from where, from whom? Although the candle-lit cathedral was still fairly dark, I could see that it was as empty as it had been when I first walked in. Immobilized, I contemplated the experience of the voice, the touch, and the promise. How long I sat, I do not remember….—Priests in the Attic (p. 85-86)
Redemption: Amazing Grace :
I have swept away your offences like a cloud,
your sins, like the morning mist.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you.
—NIV Bible: Isaiah 44:22