Posted on January 17, 2016
Six months after Whitney Houston’s death, the movie, Sparkle, a twelve-year project she co-produced, was released. It was a remake of a movie she fell in love with as a teen. The movie she’d hoped would be her comeback was her swan song. The girl who began in gospel, who struggled, who died…a woman loved by many… reminds me here that when I spin in dread, doubt, or desperation, too disoriented in the dark of uncertainty to look up, God, thank God, is always looking down.
Apparently not only March can come in as a lion. December and January have, for me, roared. Fraught with some of the hardest decisions I’ve been faced with in years, one I knew was coming, one I did not, I’ve felt terrorized at times. Sad others. Confused most. And yet the last two days I awoke singing this:
I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
Maybe it’s because yesterday, like every Saturday morning in Morocco, I opened my eyes to blue skies and birds on my balcony. Here it’s already spring. Tiny finches with nest-building bits in their beaks—a piece of string, a snip of vine—are busy. Yet they perch and sing, rest and rejoice.
Today I awoke early again before sunrise. Focused on the future, I didn’t get enough sleep last night. As on the fifth day after I moved here, happy until circumstances threatened my peace, I climbed the stairs to the rooftop. Sixteen months ago as I watched the sunset my sense of safety, of protection was restored. Today as I watched the sunrise, I felt the same way, and I knew clarity will eventually dawn. I must dwell in patience. In faith. I needed to look up as far as I could see, knowing I am seen.
When I came down, I watched as I did yesterday two women sing, Ethel Waters and Whitney Houston. Again they made me cry with comfort, hope, peace.
When I was in high school our early church service and teen band needed an organist. I volunteered. I’d never played the organ—only the piano—badly, but I have always been curious, loved challenges, and taken literally the verse that says with enough faith, mountains can be moved. My grandmother and I, like Jay Gatsby, were born with “a romantic readiness” –a stubborn belief that faith makes all things possible. So with the same tenacity with which I tried out for my high school dance team despite wearing a brace for scoliosis (yes, like the one Lisa Kudrow wore in Romy and Michel’s Class Reunion which got all the laughs), I took up the organ. (And I made the team though I now half-cringe, half- marvel at the girl busting moves for an entire year in such a contraption. Thank you, classmates, for never making fun of me.)
The first piece I learned for my organ debut was “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” It was chosen by my piano teacher, my Aunt Artie, who had long ago given up on my practicing scales and gave me a crash course in chords. The words to that song, carried on the wings of a homing pigeon, reached me in Africa this weekend. They call me to new adventures…at home.
Psychologists say we change every seven years–that seasons of growth are the natural order. Seven years ago I started this blog and called it “Cindy McCain’s Rich Life”–first as a reference to being confused with the millionaire Heinz Heiress and almost- First Lady which landed me on MTV Canada–second, and more importantly, because I did and do believe Life is Rich. How did I feel rich then? In gratitude I counted the ways…
Life was rich then and now. Since moving to Morocco–a milestone in letting go and letting God take me to places inwardly and outwardly more incredible than I ever imagined–I’ve focused mainly on travel on this blog. Still, my main purpose for writing was and is to express gratitude for and find joy in this journey we call life.
Much has changed since January, 2009. Much hasn’t. Sometimes I’m full of faith–fearless. Others I look too far ahead and am thus afflicted (as Southerners used to say) with the paralysis of analysis. Though most of my time on this continent has been full of sunshine, illumination, light and learning, over the last month I’ve felt at times where I was seven years ago (and seven years before that) when in the belly of Mammoth Cave. Again I have just enough light to see the next step. Sometimes I panic, let go, and grope the wall though I’ve never really felt alone. I know change is coming and though I have no map and can’t see what’s ahead when I fly home this summer–where I will work, where I will nest– I know my Guide is watching me.