Life School in a Hippie Rock Opera

Millennial Mom, on floor, in distress.
Thy Will Is Hard, 2018, oil on canvas, 61 x 91.4 cm, 24 x 36 in

I believe life is about learning to love. And that we are given lessons in various forms, be it relationships, events, stories, religion, art, or anything, really. Always seeking wisdom, I listen for answers everywhere. Here I share with you a timely and profound life lesson which took me years to understand, and one which I revisit regularly.

THIS IS ABOUT SPIRITUALITY, NOT RELIGION

All religions teach stories from which we can learn. I’m sharing an Easter story here, but only because Christianity is the religion I was raised in, and am familiar with. I don’t attend church any longer, but I do have a strong daily spirituality practice.

ENLIGHTENMENT IN A 1970s ROCK OPERA?

Despite my years of Sunday School, I didn’t understand one of the lessons in the Easter story until I had experienced my own suffering, and then saw Ted Neeley’s performance of the genius of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in Jesus Christ Superstar. I finally got it. I mean, Really. Got. It.

Before we continue, I invite you to listen to “Gethsemane (I Only Wanted To Say)”, Jesus Christ Superstar, 1973. Watch it here.  Stick with it, the really good stuff happens at the end.

NO ONE ESCAPES

I don’t think anyone escapes life without experiencing loss of some sort – illness, heartbreak, misfortune. I’m referring to those challenges that can’t be fixed, that are not in our control. Most of us resist the hand we are dealt. We don’t want it to happen. We wish things were different. We feel angry life has to be this way. This is our resistance to what is.

And this is what JC is facing in the song. As He faces His imminent death, He pleads for things to be different. He doesn’t want His suffering to happen, doubts He can cope with what He’s been dealt, acknowledges He used to feel strong and capable, but no longer.  “I try to be a good person, am I not good enough?” He implores. “Please, don’t make me go through this.”

His entreaties transform into anger, bargaining and bitterness. He demands reasons for WHY such suffering must happen to Him, demands an explanation for such torment. He seeks compensation for His suffering – that if He must do this, He must be rewarded, be promised His suffering will not be in vain.

Then. He can’t fight any longer. Surrender.

JC accepts what is happening to Him. He knows He has no control, though He’s tried to control things. He’s sad and afraid, feels defeated, confused. But surrenders to His fate, God’s will, His suffering. He does what he can, chooses love, despite his fate. And where does this lead? Everlasting life (which I think is a metaphor for enlightenment or higher love).

AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS…

I think this part of the Easter story is meant to teach us that we are supposed to surrender to, to accept, the challenges we are dealt, and to deeply experience or feel our suffering, so as to be led into a transformation or evolution into our higher selves. I’m not interpreting this to say we must give up when times get tough, I’m saying we seek clarity regarding what is in our control and what is not. We accept what we cannot control and move forward from there.


“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

                                               — Rumi


How many of us have suffered internal resistance to something we cannot control? Wished, prayed that things be different, that some looming horrible thing not happen? Pleaded, “Why must this happen, I’m not strong enough for this!” Asked, “Why me – I’ve tried to be a good person, surely I don’t deserve this?” Tried bargaining with our higher power? Demanded reasons for why bad things happen? Fought long and hard against what is happening until we are broken open?

AND NOW, TO THE PAINTING

And here is where we find Millennial Mom, as she accepts what is. She leans in. Thy Will is Hard. God’s will for her is hard, and she cannot control that, and never will. This is her coming undone. And breaking open. To let the Light enter. And to evolve into her higher self.

SEE FOR YOURSELF

The Imperial Theatre (in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada) is screening Jesus Christ Superstar at 7 p.m. on March 26, 2018. My chauffeuring commitments will likely keep me from attending, but if you are in the area, I encourage you to enjoy the magic of one of my favourite movies on the big screen at that beautiful theatre.

Happy Easter, friends. 🙂

“God, Thy will is hard.

But You hold every card.

I will drink Your cup of poison.

Nail me to the cross and break me.

Bleed me, beat me, kill me.

Take me now, before I change my mind.”

— Gethsemane, Jesus Christ Superstar

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