Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Dream Worth Keeping

The day of the rehearsal for my daughter’s first dance recital, the rain was as close to a monsoon as it gets on Long Island. My 14-year-old put her 4-year-old sister’s hair up into a bun and arranged her tutu just so. We left an hour before our assigned rehearsal time; with a seldom-used umbrella I carried my little ballerina to the car so she wouldn’t have to step in any puddles.

With my windshield wipers on their highest setting, I could barely see. A truck threw gallons of water on my windshield. “Freakin’ truck!” I complained.

In her toddler seat, my little girl repeated, “Freakin’ truck!” The kids laughed as I reprimanded myself.

I found the entrance for the Stellar Arts Center and entered the parking garage, much dismayed to see that I would have to pay $4 for the privilege of parking. I sent my older daughters ahead to look at the sign which mapped out the university’s buildings. Once they were sure of the path, they led the way and I carried our little girl to the proper doorway.

The dance teacher was a half hour late, which gave more latecomers time to get into their places on time. The studio owners grumbled about how their schedule had been jumbled by her lateness. We all knew she had been suffering adversity other than the weather. The girls played about happily in the front row, the last time they would be able to see each other all together other than at the actual show.

Finally they were ready for us. The girls went up, ages 2 through 5, with no problems because they were so comfortable with their teacher. They took their places, laying in a sleeping position. They danced to a number from one of the original save-the-rainforest animated movies, “Fern Gulley”. I was glad this class got to do a real ballet number, because the other “combo” classes were doing tap, and my daughter wants to be a prima ballerina.

My other children were with me, partly as a way to save money so I wouldn’t have to pay $25.50 for each of them to see their sister’s number on Saturday, partly because I was not sure if their ball game schedule would interfere with their ability to come that day. They got to see it twice, and were happy with that. I got all the pictures I needed.

The studio owner came to the edge of the stage and said, “They could use a touch of color.” To me, a touch of color means a little sun. She meant makeup.

“My daughter can’t wear makeup,” I said, “She has allergies.” The other mothers knew what I meant, because it had come up in conversation recently. Some of us were okay with a little makeup and some of us were adamantly against it for girls so young.

“Well, for those of you without allergies, I recommend a little blush and lipstick. Their faces get washed out onstage and they come up better on the video with a little makeup.”

A video I would not be buying anyway. The recommendation made me a little upset.

Saturday came, and all their games were canceled, but we decided just Kevin and I would go with her. Audrey did her hair again. Sans makeup, I thought she was the most beautiful ballerina I had ever seen.

It was a beautiful day, and parking was free that day. We walked to the center together. I was forced to hand her over to the studio owner backstage. “Will she be okay?” my husband asked.

In the dance arena, she is totally at ease. I knew she would be fine.

The show opened with a ridiculous “artistic” number; then the curtain opened on the little girls. The audience oohed and aahed at the precious little ones “sleeping” on the stage. They “awoke”; the littler girls followed the older girls, who were following the dance teacher offstage. They missed a few steps (I had seen this in practice many times in the studio) and came off their assigned places, but that did not detract from the performance. I cried of course.

I had to go back to retrieve her. She was all smiles when I handed her a light pink carnation. Most of her friends were going home, and she wanted to do the same.

“But I thought you wanted to see the rest of the show,” I protested, “Daddy is waiting for you in our seats.”

She got increasingly upset as we entered the dark theatre. She insisted she wanted to go home. The music was too loud, she said. She was obviously overwhelmed at the enormity of the experience. So we went home.

And she slept, this time for real, wearing her purple tutu.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: "The Invisible World" by Anthony DeStefano

If you ever doubted the existence of God, the supernatural, angels, the devil, or Hell, this book will give you pause. Not only does DeStefano give a compelling argument for their existence; he argues that the devil tries to convince us of their nonexistence as one of his tools to win over your soul. Within a general traditional Christian framework of doctrine that both Catholics and Protestants can agree upon, the author offers ways that an openness to the spiritual world will enrich your life.

Did you ever feel the need to pick up the phone and call someone, and it turns out they were thinking about you and/or really needed your support at that exact moment? Did you ever wake up in the middle of the night and feel something was terribly wrong, and pray, and find out the next day that someone you loved was in a crisis? Did you ever have a terrible tension headache and find out that a family member was in trouble? DeStefano calls this “The Haunt Detector”. It could be the Holy Spirit was speaking to you.

Did you ever escape an accident by the most unusual of circumstances? Your guardian angels were looking out for you. DeStefano discusses “The World of the Angels” in his chapter “Invisible Helpers”. On the other hand, are you wondering why you or a loved one has fallen victim to a terrible illness? The author explains this in his chapter “The Power of Suffering”.

The author discusses the nature of the Invisible World including God, angels, demons, the soul, spiritual warfare, grace, suffering, your eternal destiny, and finally how to see the invisible. DeStefano is here to tell you to be open to God’s presence, in its many forms. Don’t be an impractical mystic, but live your life, while continually looking for the little ways He is present to you. Don’t ignore your gut instinct, which is actually the Holy Spirit, guiding you on the right path.

You might not need this book if you have already been reading the works of great spiritual writers such as St. Thomas Acquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. Therese of Liseux. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to the spiritual world for the general reader.

“The Invisible World” by Anthony DeStefano was published by Doubleday in 2011. It is available on at and at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. For more information see the author’s webpage at or see the video trailer at