Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Record a CD?

(This blog post originally appeared on my website,, where you can buy the CD in question.)

Recently someone asked me why I made this CD. I think there’s a story worth telling here, because everyone has phases when discerning one’s way through life is an all-consuming need. Reading nitty-gritty testimonies of someone else’s journey can help.

 On Christmas Day of 2010 I stood in my kitchen chatting with a friend who mentioned that a local recording studio could digitize cassette recordings. My mind shot to my beloved 1986 cassette version of “Daughter” (Track 8) that had already survived a 2003 toddler attack. Had to get that preserved before it was lost forever.

So, to the studio I went. I reminisced a bit with the tech about recordings I’d done in college and found myself wondering out loud to him what all it might take for me to do some real recording now.

That wondering followed me home and I prayed about it frequently. As I prayed, the wondering became a demanding question. Marie, will you record again? Will you make a CD?

Simultaneously, I had begun spending more time than usual playing guitar. Circumstances gave me a couple of hours a month to play alone in a church. This was exactly how I had spent hours and hours during college (except that now, the church had the Blessed Sacrament in residence; then I was in what had been a convent chapel, with only the memory of the Blessed Sacrament there!) That winter I began writing the song “Deep Inside” which took me months to complete. It literally grew along with me as I discerned, the only song I’ve ever written explicitly as a studio song.

January passed and February came, and I wrestled with The Question. My greatest practical concern was financial cost. However, the far more powerful question in my heart was the “Why bother?” My songs had a certain importance to me, but I couldn’t justify spending all the money to record and share them. The world had so many songs in it already. While I found buried in my heart a spark of a desire to proceed with it, try as I might I could not surmount the “Why bother?” question.

Then came one of the strangest days in my recent memory. Waiting for Mass to being at Franciscan University’s Christ the King Chapel, I prayed fretful and fuming prayers. The Question was ringing in my heart like a gong, and frankly I was annoyed with God and weary of myself. Suddenly I remembered an event from a year earlier. I had felt divinely compelled to invite a certain visiting priest to our house for dinner, despite this feeling silly to me. Long story short, I finally obeyed the prompting, talked to the priest, we played phone tag (which is mortifyingly difficult for me), and eventually he left town and never did come for dinner. So, as I prayed that day, I reminded God of that escapade. “What ever came of that, huh, Lord? I did what I felt like you wanted me to do then, and all that came of it was me feeling stupid! What about that?”

That Mass began, and in walks that same priest. I’d not seen nor thought of him in a year. My fuming came to an embarrassed and confused silence, and I “came to” about the time this priest read the gospel of the day. It involved Jesus rebuking the disciples for their lack of faith and asking them “Do you still not understand?”

All I could say was, No Lord. I don’t understand. At all.

Back at home about two hours later, I was still reeling from the impact of what had just happened. My son burst through the door, demanding I come with him immediately. A block away, he had witnessed a woman who had been walking her dog in a field behind an abandoned building collapse and begin seizing.

What happened next is hard to explain. In a complete internal daze, I found the woman, dialed 911, and proceeded to wait with her for the paramedics. A neighbor came and spoke soothingly to her.  A nun who lived down the street came running, cradled the woman and scrambled to help the paramedics when they arrived. The woman’s adult son arrived.

And all the while I stood there, completely silent and motionless inside and out, feeling as removed from the situation as if I were waiting for a bus. When she was taken care of, neighbors congratulated my son on his quick reaction that probably saved the woman’s life. Everyone took a sigh of relief and went back to their day.

I, however, could not.

Hours later as I told my husband the episode, my delayed reaction brewed – something erupting from a deeper level than emotion or stress. My response to the woman felt both natural for me, and yet wrong, wounded, broken. And somehow, I felt I’d entered into a mysterious cloud from which God was responding to my complaints about The Question.

That night after choir practice I began to tell a friend about the woman. But as I described “just standing there” something broke open in me. I started to cry, shake and hyperventilate and I ran out of the church. I made it home with great difficulty and for hours I continued in this state, hyperventilating, crying and shaking violently. It seemed my body was reliving traumas to which I had long since turned off my ability to feel.

The next day, feeling like I’d had my stuffing knocked out, I again turned to the Lord in prayer. Without any process of analysis I understood that the “bother” was not about the world needing eight more songs or another CD. The “bother” was about my need to surrender my soul to God, to obey, to follow, to give. The God who has given me so much was calling me to stop counting what it costs and to be freed to pour myself out. And what I found in my hand to fulfill this calling was the music that comes from my heart.

But it would take money, so I told God if this were really His idea, He’d have to provide some. The very next day we got a notice that we’d get a $600 reimbursement on some car repairs because a recall. Sadly, it was my sister’s death just after I began recording that provided the “more than enough” that God is famous for. My sister was musical, and she was always generous to a fault. When I received an unexpected share of her savings, I realized that God holds all of our lives in His hands.

This is only the story of how the CD got started. When I finally finished the project, I realized everything I’ve learned has only just begun. What God has done “deep inside” my heart (Track 4), I now need to take a live out “deliberately” (Track 5). Thanks be to God, each day of life gives each of us a new opportunity to surrender to God, to obey Him, to follow Him, to give ourselves to Him and to the world at His directive. Let’s all pray for the grace to do these things to the fullest possible extent in everything we do.

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