I received the most awe-inspiring gift this past week in New Orleans, a spontaneous, live, private performance by acoustic/folk/blues genius Teresa Tudury whom you can visit here: http://www.teresatudury.net/. She was visiting a cousin and we just happened to connect by timing of our visits. The morning following our dinner, my father and I bumped into her cousin and wound up together again. Teresa had brought her Gibson, which was objecting to New Orleans humidity, but she coaxed it into life anyway.
To say Teresa sings and plays guitar is an understatement. She bursts forth in controlled displays of power, her voice escalating and retreating, filling the room, and drawing you into the soul of one who sees life, notes the irony, and capitalizes on it with great intellectual prowess, outstanding comedy, and creative risk. One of the songs she played was Put Mrs. God on the Phone (click on the link for it at her website to hear it: http://www.teresatudury.net/music.html), which reminded me of the many hysterical prayers I have put forth to God in my most awkward and frustrated moments. They aren’t a far stretch from Richard’s placating pleas to the Lord in Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love. He asks God for help, but asks to please be gentle when delivering direction, because as we all know, forced change drops like a sledge hammer from His hand. Tudury herself sings that she has been calling God many times (don’t make her come to His home, she says) and tired of his masculine point of view (death, destruction), she would love to speak to Mrs. God, who might, in fact, have some very nice ideas, as opposed to say, nailing your best employee to a cross. Theresa is irreverent and forthright in all her songs on the CD she gave me.
Inspired by the comedy and honesty of Mrs. God, here is a list of things I have prayed over the years.
Dear God, I really hate the stomach flu. Please don’t let me throw up and die. Please spare me from retching. I’ll do anything. Please.
Dear God, please let me die. The retching is awful. Just let me die nice and quietly on this cool tile floor.
On other days:
Dear Lord, please show me what is wrong with my relationship.
Soon to be followed by:
Lord, was that really necessary?
Dear Lord, I have been ruthlessly trying to find employment and am willing to clean houses. Please open a door or window and show me the way.
Also followed by:
Dear Lord, this is ridiculous. Were food stamps really a part of your plan? And the cat box in that woman’s office is really offensive, but I’ll deal.
And ultimately by:
Dear Lord, thank you for the new job, but it still does not pay the bills and my client is so mean I lost ten pounds from stress. I would appreciate clearer direction on what this is doing for me.
My favorite answer to one of my most earnest prayer was a very clear, bone-chilling statement: Child, wait. And another one, I swear, came in a bumper sticker. Both came with an incredible wave of reassurance.
I just told a girlfriend over lunch that I don’t mind at all doing what God says, but for crying out loud, can He just speak plainly? All this digging around, moaning, begging, pleading, trying so hard to look for signs and listen. Honestly, it flabbergasts me. When my prayers are answered clearly, He likes to respond with a kind of blast followed by my long suffering. I often ask God why if we speak so often, I still on occasion have to yell to be heard. And like Richard, I have started asking if He could make direction slightly less painful. Thanks to Teresa though, I think I am just going to start asking for Mrs. God.