Michael McLean Music

June7th

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During my high school years I lived in Chicago and then we moved to New Jersey (about 15 miles from the George Washington bridge into Manhattan).  Not very many Mormons there at that time, but I was lucky to have a wonderful collection of friends from so many different faiths.  Great hearts, great people, and willing to share their understanding of spiritual matters with me freely, and let me do the same.  There was something very heavenly about that for me.  It set a foundation for my life in which the great spiritual discussions were always prompted by someone starting out with a central question and then came the exchange: What does everyone think this or that really means? Have you found an answer to this question that satisfies both your intellect AND your heart?   How did you come to that realization or conclusion?   And finally, everyone had a chance to share what, as of that particular conversation, they truly believed.

Well, today at church, I was thinking deeply about the central moment of my worship…taking of the sacrament, or as my friends back east would say, taking communion.  In my church, the prayer to bless the emblems of the sacrament states that we eat the bread and drink the wine (in our church it’s water) to remember Jesus and as a promise that we’ll follow Him so that His spirit will always be with us.    I invested some serious time in asking myself what it feels like to have that spirit with me….and if it was actually possible for mere mortals to always have it.

While I was thinking about this I had one of those spiritual conversations I just told you about, only it was with myself.  I played all the parts in the exchange.   I asked, “Is having ‘His Spirit’ with us a feeling that can be identified…you know, a this is it feeling, and if so, is it always pretty much the same sort of feeling.  Like the sweet aha when an answer comes about a spiritual question, or the reassuring feeling that a prayer is finally being answered.   Is it possible for those feelings to be around us always.   I mean ALWAYS!???! And if we’re not feeling it always is it ALWAYS our own fault?  Does heaven cut us any slack if we drift away from always thinking about these sorts of things while we’re, you know, making a living or paying the light bill or picking up the dry cleaning?

This conversation went on for awhile and then I was forced to move on from church and postpone the conversation I was having with myself.   I needed to get to Centerville to celebrate my friend Jessica Hunt’s birthday a bit earlier than her actual birthday.  You see she’s going in for surgery Tuesday to replace the implant that has been used for the last five years to help her deal with the pain she’s been experiencing most of her life.  She’s going to be 22, and in the 10 years I’ve known her, she’s always suffered.  Not just from the extreme and relentless physical pain, but emotionally as well.

She told me tonight that she’s almost finished writing her life story.  Because she doesn’t know how long she has  (it’s miraculous that she’s still with us, the doctors say) and because she wants to express how she feels about God and what she’s learned from her earthly journey in a wheelchair and with cerebral palsy she wants to put it in her own words.  With her crippled hands, near total blindness and horrific pain it’s taken her longer than she’d like, but she promises I’ll get to read it as soon as she’s finished.

I took Lynne and Meggan, Bucky and Baby Sadie to spend some time with those who all love Jessica and her Italian mom,  American dad and siblings.  There were over fifty people at the party, each and everyone had been touched by this little girl in a wheelchair who is, and has been a hero to me since she first started coming to The Forgotten Carols and over the years inviting everyone she knows to join her. The huge plus is her mom is a fantastic Italian cook.  I don’t think she knows how to make anything that doesn’t delight the palate…but I digress.

Tonight I sat right next to my young friend Jessica for a while, wearing the t-shirt she made for me a couple of years ago with a picture of her and some of her friends smiling and proudly holding a poster of the Forgotten Carols.  Above the picture are the words, Michael McLean Club.  While we chatted about the upcoming surgery, what the doctors hoped to accomplish, if she was frightened about what was to come, every few minutes I’d ask if she was feeling well enough to continue…she always smiled and said yes, even though her body language suggested otherwise.

I reached over and held her hand as we spoke in between moments when others who were at the party came to express their love, give her a kiss, or tell them they would be praying for her as they said goodbye.   As all of this was happening, out of the blue, I felt like I heard a voice in my head, or more likely it was in my heart.  It must have listened in on my conversation I was having with myself earlier today because it referenced the question of what His spirit feels like, and whispered:  It feels like this.

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