I’m in my home state of Montana right now, on tour teaching spiritual classes and playing music. I chose to be here for an extended length of time this summer to also help out my mom with a rotator cuff surgery she had. The trip was to be fairly structured between music rehearsals, seeing family, and the spiritual classes, but as all good plans often do — mine imploded here and there after changes in several people’s schedules. This left me with quite a conundrum: 50 days in Montana, and nary a thing to do, in between shows. To some, that may sound like bliss. I thought it would be bliss until I realized that 50 days is a LONG time to simply “hang out”.
However, I began to see a pattern in my dismay. In keeping up countless music, radio, and TV production dates in Los Angeles over the past nine years, I realized that I, innately, fill empty space. If I have a blank spot in my calendar, I fill it, with a meeting, a project, a something. I fill that empty spot with an activity. Because, being raised in the Old West, “idle hands are the Devil’s tool”, donchya know. At least that’s what I’d heard, and clearly, I’d made it into a way of life that even Jillian Michaels would be impressed with — both in terms of discipline, AND heavy lifting.
So here I sit, with several down days in Montana, wondering what this is all about. I decide to help my folks out and re-paint their bathroom and re-stain their bathroom cupboards. The remodel was a success and before I know it, I have this sense of great satisfaction in service to another, as well as having completed a project that actually HAD an ending. Now this may sound strange, but when you work in entertainment, many of your projects DON’T have an ending: A filmed TV Pilot can float in space indefinitely until someone buys it, for instance. So to see the bathroom *finished* was, well… Extremely gratifying. Plus my Italian parents were thrilled, and my mom got a new bathroom just in time for her surgery. The latter is very important if you’re an Italian, whose mental key to a clean recovery is new, flouncy curtains.
One day while staining the bathroom cabinets, I went outside, to get some fresh air. Nothing says “dead brain cells” like oil- based wood stain. I stood in the sun, and let it beat upon my face. My folks have huge old trees in their yard, and I heard a myriad of different birds chirping, something I don’t hear back home in Los Angeles, and listened to the wind through the enormous maple leaves. I breathed in the fresh air, and just… experienced that moment. For standing in one place, there was an incredible amount of activity all around me.
Pretty soon it dawns on me that I’ve been standing there a REALLY long time. Now, one could argue that my euphoric delay was based on a large amount of stain I’d been breathing — except the bathroom was actually really well ventilated. I was also wearing a scarf on my head, a ratty paint-covered T-shirt, a pair of black cotton paint-covered capris…and cowboy boots. Basically, I looked homeless. But there I stood in my parent’s front yard for who knows how long, just — standing, looking homeless. And sniffing the fresh air. And listening. For a long time. And it was blissful.
It was then that I realized — the great and powerful Creator, who I will call “God”, so we all know who I am referring to — has an enormous sense of humor. In the midst of this moment of blissful “nothingness” — I feel God, just waving at me like a crazed four-year-old meeting Elmo for the first time. It makes me smile, and I actually say, “Oh! Well hi!” Because I realize, geez — when was the last time I actually slowed down enough to receive one of those incoming “God-o-Grams”? I couldn’t recall the last time. And I missed it.
See, chatting with angels is different. I do that a lot in my job, and they are messengers, so they’re constantly popping in and out, on task, rushing about and dropping off information like an army of litigator ants. Angels feel like freight trains. God feels like warm caramel being drizzled on your tummy.
I’ll take two, please.
I’m realizing that God, in God’s weird sense of humor, had been waiting for me to chill out long enough for God to get a word in edge wise. Unlike human beings, a species hell-bent on Self-obsession, God is all about patience, and giving a person space. In fact, God will give us so much space that we will forget God’s even there. Now, that would KILL a human, to be forgotten. But God doesn’t shrink in the face of “forgotten”, because God is in everything, and ergo, can’t actually ever BE forgotten, lest one chooses to forget EVERYTHING.
So here I am, devoid of any activity outside of service to another — my parents — and *who* shows up to the party in the long perfect stretch of quiet in the outdoors, but God. We didn’t chat a whole lot, as, unlike angels, God isn’t a chatter, but a feeler. Instead, I felt God, felt this goofy four-year-old excitement that I actually slowed down enough to experience the God all around me, and I felt peace. That’s God’s greatest gift to the neurosis known as Humanity: A wash of Peace, for absolutely no reason at all.
It further dawns on me that I could be experiencing this whenever I wanted to, but it was up to me to slow down long enough to lock into that peaceful, easy feeling. Then I just felt a little silly, as I sense God giggling at me:
“Danielle, I know you. I knew if I waited, you’d do your TV shows, your albums, your films, your plays, your radio shows, but eventually… You’d end up with time you couldn’t fill. And that was *my* time, as all I have is time. So… How have you been? And don’t wait so long to say hello next time. I miss you!”
And I felt myself saying, “Hey, I miss you, too!”
But God just smiled. Because God can’t “miss”. I get another grin out of that, because even in God’s being silly, there is such peace.
The point, besides “if you breathe enough oil-based wood stain, you can experience God” ;), is that if we never create “still spaces” in our lives, we won’t allow ourselves to connect to that warm gooey caramel drizzle known as God. The Parent Creator waits for us to make room to connect. It goes against God’s nature to violate free will by demanding an audience. Yet we cry out to God constantly to be “shown signs”, and we demand God’s attention. The irony is that we *always* have God’s attention. God just doesn’t have ours.
For us to feel re-charged as spiritual creatures, we must give our attention to “empty space” once in awhile, to allow God some room to say howdy. God is our Source, our Universal Hub, and we are not separate from Source. This “howdy time” can be achieved through meditation, taking a walk, or just sitting in the yard or on the beach. Let go of the need to text, facebook on the iPhone, or call a friend — let the wind be your friend, and the rustle of the trees be your conversation. Then allow yourself to feel the Peace of God.
Speaking of peace, I took that photo of the sunset tonight, the longest day of the year, at 9pm Mountain Time, and since I felt God give me a wink when I took the photo, I thought I’d include it. Besides — there’s nothing more gorgeous than a Montana summer sunset. Maybe God will wave at you like an exuberant four-year-old, through the photo? That’s especially fun to be on the other end of.
I’m lying in the dark of my childhood home’s basement, on the couch, typing this blog on my Blackberry, and I can’t feel my right hand anymore. BUT, I felt this was an important enough message to pass along, even if my thumbs are turning blue.
Which, I’m fairly certain — God would think is hilarious.