AMAZING GRACE

Amazing Grace
By Arnold J. Mungioli

I wake up a Crazy Wretch,
Tortured by all that I haven’t achieved,
Insane with perceived lack…
My Inner Critics reveling at a tea party on my head,
Full ground-length lace tablecloth and tea china, perfectly set.
Finger sandwiches of So Many Varieties
Cucumber and Self-Deprecation
Comparings and Clotted Cream
Watercress with No Self Esteem and a sprinkling of “How Dare You” Salt
I wake up choking on a mouthful of these Tiny Sandwiches
Grateful that it’s only High Tea,
And not their Holiday Grand Buffet.

I am awash in my own UnWorthiness.
Lost
Blind
Fearful
UnBelieving.
Now,
Here,
The Sun Shines in my window,
As if God is looking in, perplexed as any parent would be at such a child,
Wondering where I could have gotten such an idea — who put that in my head?
It is the Sweet Light of Loving Concern, not consternation.
I am awake now.
Slowly, it begins to subside…there is Gratitude for the Sunlight
For the two Gifts I’ve just Opened — My Eyes.
I am Grateful for another Day.
I clearly recognize that this Day is a Gift.
Life is a Gift.
It’s just that I do not feel in any way entitled to a Gift of such Magnitude.
I know not from whence this dangerous feeling of UnWorthiness comes
That this Gift might be somehow not for me
That I might be enjoying something intended for someone Taller
Someone Younger
More Fit
It’s LIN MANUEL-MIRANDA’s Day, not mine.
It’s a Gift for some Record-Breaking Olympian like MICHAEL PHELPS or VENUS WILLIAMS or PATRICK CHAN…
For me, it’s time for Jibaritos with Failureyonnaise and Not Peppers;
Enjoy a mouthful of Wheaties with ProcrastiBerries and Milk of Hopelessness.

Perhaps Envy is one of Today’s Tea Party Guests.

How must the Creator of this Day Feel when I reject Their Beautiful Gift to me,
so unceremoniously, rapt in my chosen stance of unworthiness?
“You must have intended this gift for RIHANNA or MARK ZUCKERBERG, not for me.”
What a way to Crush Someone!
What a way to Trample on Love and turn it into sod!
No One would Blame RIHANNA, nor MARK, nor the Giver.
I, the Recipient, am guilty of the Crime.

I have the right to remain silent
But I don’t.
I look in the mirror and see the failure of a thousand diets
and countless workout routines begun and cast aside.
I see the signs of Aging
The sweet sublime Poetry of Time’s Brushstrokes —
And like a novice standing before a Titian or a Vermeer,
I see no Greatness
As if there is only one Beauty and it looks only one undeniable and limited way,
Heedless and Unaware in these moments that the Failing is merely of my own Sight;
It is the Viewer’s Shortcoming,
Not the Artist’s.
I sit at my screen, proximately immersed in a sea of correspondence,
Sheltering my Raw Vulnerability in the protective bunker of a virtual world,
Oblivious to the reality that my Vulnerability — my Humanity — is the Greatest Gift of All!

Let us Pause.
Stop it!
Stop it or I’ll bury you alive in a box!

Now,
Here,
Lift the blinds.
Open the window.
Gaze out at the Magnificent Splendor of Today’s Sky and Give Thanks!
The Splendor of this Day fervently proclaims itself, offering inspiration:
Rush to the RoofTop and Sing out Loud a Song of Praise and Glory for all that is Created to the Source of its Creation!
Burst Forth with ThanksGiving for this Splendid World and for bringing me out of the Cosmic Goo into some form that has Two Legs and Two Arms and Hands and Feet and Fingers and Toes, Eyes and a Brain and a Heart that Beats…
I BREATHE!
THAT IS MY SONG!
DANCE in Appreciation for Breathing
And for Being Here —
Let us Begin Each Day with Sweet Acknowledgement of the Full of Wonder and Marvelous GIFT that this is!
We can create a Tsunami of Gratitude that will drown out the Inner Critics’ Tea Party!
Their acrid tea gets cold; their vinegary scones are gone; their webbed lace tablecloth is stained and torn…
They depart!
And, in my Gratitude,
In this Present Moment, I am Found!
My Vision! My Voice!
Courageous!
Faithful!
Grateful!
…Saved!
It is Time Now for a Gala of Gratitude — Cheerful Cascarones chock-full of positive thoughts, Inspiration Canapes, Arancini full-filled with Bliss, Everyone wearing Fabulous Hats of Bright Colors — Satisfying Sweets, and a Thank Full Buffet…

As a schoolchild, when I first heard the Lyrics to AMAZING GRACE,
I rejected it out of hand by the end of the first line:
“a wretch like me?”
I am not a Wretch!
How Dare they!
I shall not utter such a Lyric!
“I am a Man,” I thought, at 8 years old — or whatever age I was then.
How is it that such a forlorn song could make it through the ages into this hymnal?
Why were such words not rejected as something beneath the Glorious Truth of Who we are?
Children, being so fresh from God, sometimes have an innately better sense of the Truth of who we are.
As PABLO PICASSO put it, “The problem is how to remain an Artist once we grow up!”
It was not until MERYL STREEP’s version in the 1983 film, SILKWOOD, that the song moved me.
I went out and bought the Vinyl Album.
I still have it.
It skips once in that song and I know exactly where the spot is.
That is how I learned it.
“I once was Lost, btfound, wsblindtnooooww I Seeeeee…”

Now,
Here,
In this Second Half of Life, I have discovered my Inner Wretch.
It is in this Wretched Inability to Wake Up Singing with JOY.
It is in allowing the Negativity of the Greedy,
the Allure of the Hollow,
the Mindless Banter of the Unthinking —
To determine my Value to the World
To reckon my Self-Esteem
To OverRide the Indomitable Beauty of my Soul…
And the Glory of the Person God made us All to Be!
It is Wretched to live in Scarcity.
My Soul longs to Give Thanks
My Soul yearns to acknowledge the colossal Love of the Gift of this Day with deep Humility
My Soul burns to Dance, just when such a Dance would Leave my Body Breathless and Winded — Nay, Exhilarated!
My Soul aches to Awaken Each Morning with JOY,
to Create a Song of Gratitude and Shout it from the RoofTops —
To Dash out the Door and Up the Stairs as if it is Christmas Morning and I am Five Years Old again,
And I just know there is a Giant Pile of Gifts Waiting for Me — or something better: the Magnificent Splendor of the Sky!
Deep down inside, I know I have been a Good Kid;
I drift to sleep each night, some part of me in a state of breathless excitement for Morning
And Morning Arrives At Last!
I want to race up the stairs, stand atop the Roof with my arms outstretched way above my head, and Bellow,
“MERRY CHRISTMAS YOU BEAUTIFUL OLD BUILDING AND LOAN!!!”

And Yet, here I lie,
Just awake
With a mouthful of Inner Critic Finger Sandwiches
Feeling unable to breathe
Crumpets So Dry
Where is the Tea?
Libation… Liberation… Something to wash it down, so that I may speak again and my Voice may be Heard… I have things to Say!
Each of us is given a Voice and somewhere within the ability to look around and know that that Exact Voice is what is most needed
…Now,
…Here,
…More than Ever!
I confess there are days I awaken and cannot wait until nighttime, so that I may return to bed and close my eyes again.
On such Days,
I have missed the Gift.
I have missed the Miracle.
I have hidden myself from its Glory.
I have muffled my Voice to a World So Very Much in Need of what I have to Say,
Now.
Here.
I have neither acknowledged nor praised nor appreciated the Creator of this Marvelous Work — the Sweetness of This Day!
Yet, out of a Love for which I have no comprehension, nor any comparison,
the Creator gives me another

And another

And another

And another

And another…

Until there are no more.

Then They will take me in Their Embrace
Unconditionally Loving
Just like Always.

I am Saved.
A wretch, like me.

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