Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are! Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky. -Jane Taylor
Two years and four foster homes later, my caregivers visited her cousin and her cousin’s family. Their little girl, whom I call, Diana, eagerly grabbed my hand and pulled me into her bedroom a space blooming with all things pink and frilly. The canopied four-poster bed, the ruffled curtains, and shag pillows dumbfounded me.
“What?” Diana said. Her sapphire eyes and wide smile puzzled me.
“Come on!” She gently pulled me by the hand and as we explored her vast array of toys and dolls I stopped hard in front of her miniature piano.
“You want me to play it for you?”
She pecked the keys and sang with joyful abandon. Over and over she crooned about a little star in a night sky. And as she taught me the few notes, the terror and grief briefly disappeared.
According to brain wave power, “It has recently been discovered that music can be a powerful tool in relieving the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Music as a treatment.
Studies have shown that (specific kinds of) music can trigger the brain to release chemicals to distract the body and mind from the pain.”
* * *
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. -The New England Primer
How many of us as children, learned this lilting verse?
Shortly after my singular visit with Diana, (who not only taught me to sing and play notes, graciously gifted me her mini-piano, also caused hope to unfurl in me) another precocious friend flashed into my life.
Her last name rhymed with the street she lived on, something like Carly Sunny lives on Funny.
We wore out the swings, teeter-totters, and merry-go-round at a small- town park playground.
She invited me to her church so she could win prizes and I tagged along so I could pretend to be her.
One day, while soaring as high as we could, hands gripping fat chains, and feet planted in black-swing-seats she yelled, “Do you pray?”
I shook my head.
She leaped off, mid-air, and jerked me to an abrupt stop.
Dropping onto the grass, she pressed her palms together and bowed her head.
I copied her movements.
“Every night you should kneel by your bed and pray like this…”
Who knew a child’s prayer could switch off if only for a little while, the scenes that played like a horror film in my mind?
In an article published on August 18, 2014, in The Desert News, Herb Scribner compiled a list:
8 Reasons Prayer is Good for You
- Faster spiritual growth
- Better moods
- Improved physical health
- More self-control
- Strong personal beliefs
- Inspiration in hardship
- Better interpersonal relationships
- Increased creativity
Researcher Michael E. McCullough of Southern Methodist University found that prayer can calm your mood and put you “in a state of peace.”
* * *
Carly not only showed me how to pray (and sing a silly song about a fine lady on a white horse with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes), she also taught me, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might have this wish I wish tonight.”
A Baylor University study recently discovered that “There are physical, mental and social benefits that arise upon uttering words to God.”
Sometime during Carly’s free tutoring on life as a normal girl, a record playing something about wishing on a star, captured my attention.
One night, before I knelt beside my bed to recite my nightly prayer, a phrase from that song saying that it didn’t matter who you are, jingled in my thoughts.
Hands trembling, I held my breath and brushed back the cotton curtain.
Not too dark yet.
And like a glittery beacon-
The first star.
Scrunching closed my eyes, I recited the poem, careful to enunciate each line.
When I finished, something supercharged and ethereal broke through the all-too-familiar-dread.
My eyes flew open and I pulled back, heart racing with a kind of knowing-
The heavens declare the glory of God.
Someone heard the fervent desire of a little girl. A little girl aching for her mother, her grandfather, her innocence. A little girl lost.
Several days later, my wish for a pony came true.
And while the gift provided years of joy, Judy in no way compared to the awe I’d felt or the longing ignited in me to know the mysterious Who.