I graduated from the University of Utah in 1990 with my MFA in dance performance. For my graduation gift, my dad gave me $1,000 to make my way in NYC. "If you can make it there, you can make it any where!" (Liza Minnelli 1977, Frank Sinatra 1978). I studied at the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab in SoHo. My goal was to audition and become a member of The Nikolais/Louis Dance Theatre. I studied at the dance lab for a year, auditioned-and didn't make it. One of the dancers that did make the cut couldn't fulfill her obligation to the company. She quit. I auditioned again. I made it. Long story short (and another story for another blog entry)- I lived in NYC for two years. Dancing with the Nikolais/Louis Dance Company for the second year of my time in New York. However, my musings today are not about dancing in NYC. My thoughts are about "making it".
Darla was my roommate in New York. We had other single friends we met in our church congregation, Marlayna and Cherlynn. We went to the Macy's Thanksgiving parade together, ate in Greenwich village together, worshiped together and shared our dreams with each other. I think it is not a coincidence that the four of us, once living in SoHo and Greenwhich village in New York, now live on the west coast in California. Three out of the four of us live in Nor Cal and Marlayna lives with her husband and two sons in San Diego. Cherlynn came to visit me yesterday. She lives about 25 minutes from my front door. We talked for over an hour sharing our challenges, our hopes, our sorrows. And then Cherlynn shared something with me that touched me deeply and reminded me why I love these girls- profoundly.
Cherlynn has been teaching the four year-olds in her local church congregation. I asked her how she liked it. She said: at first, she really didn't understand why she was there. For the reader to understand, Cherlynn worked on Wall Street on the east coast for 10 years; eight years in Manhattan and two years in Boston. She continued her work with her Financial institution while she and her husband, Ned lived in Japan. Cherylnn has been engrossed in an adult professional world for most of her working years. Cherlynn has four children of her own and admitted that she would have understood her assignment if she were to teach her own children in church, but why these children? And then her Ned reminded her; "You have a testimony of Jesus Christ. They need to hear it." While she sat on my grey sofa, Cherlynn explained- "I don't bring table cloths, cookies, snacks or treats. But I do have a strong belief of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and that I can share." Wow. I'm just a bit over four years old- but those words stirred me. I felt Cherlynn's faith and conviction.
I believe God let our paths cross again to strengthen each other. If we can make it here, (insert change of local) we can make it anywhere.
Another story of faith and conviction that I have read about recently is that of Elizabeth Smart. If you were around in 2002, you'll remember the horrific crime that gripped the nation--the kidnapping of 14 year old Elizabeth Smart. I won't go into detail concerning the story. You can read the book. But I did want to share my learning experience. In all honesty, after reading the book. I was extremely disheartened. Reading her story gave me a glimpse of the true evil in the world. For several years, I've been working on not giving into fear. I even started limiting checking on my kids at night because I want to nurture faith and not fear. But after reading Elizabeth Smart's book, I started checking the windows, checking the kids once again. Arg. Not the feeling I wanted after reading her book. I've thought about it and even asked Heavenly Father about it, not on my knees but in my heart. And then on Sunday, I had some enlightenment.
The Bishop of our congregation spoke in our Sacrament meeting about Heavenly Father's plan for us. He used the metaphor of a parent sending a child to school. Of course, the parent doesn't want the child to fail, He sends the child out into the world for growth and experience. The parent knows the child will have struggles and hardships but to become an adult- like the parent, like our Heavenly Father, we- the child must go out from the parent and be schooled. With the child's best interest at heart, the parent will provide a way for the child's success in school. And like our earthly parents, our Heavenly Father has provided a way to overcome the hardships, sadness and evil in our "schooling". God did not abandon Elizabeth Smart. Yes, He could have struck David Mitchell dead. But God allows ALL of His children to choose, good OR evil. If He stopped them, we- the children would not realize our capacity of becoming like our Father or becoming more like our adversary. Elizabeth Smart made a choice and so did her captor. She chose to survive and find the good among the evil. David Mitchell chose his pathway to hell. He was not forced, he was not predestined to fail, he chose.And so did Elizabeth Smart. I believe her maiden name is not a coincidence. "If she can make it here, she can make it anywhere!"
I hope I will continue to choose the good, to survive, to enjoy life and find the divine among the corrupt. Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli were right!! "Start spreading the news...!!"