Copyright © 2011 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved.
This past Sunday afternoon I wanted to attend The Sound of Music sing-along at Atlanta’s classic Fox Theatre. My consolation prize was watching my DVD copy at home on our flat-screen.
I first saw it in 1965 at the age of 14 or 15 during an exclusive run at another famed movie palace, the Carthay Circle Theatre near Beverly Hills, demolished a few years later. Subsequently I would enjoy its first sing-along version at a theater in London’s West End. Twice I’ve visited Salzburg and twice I’ve taken the American Express Sound of Music Tour (smile). The only song I learned to play well on the piano is “Edelweiss”!
My mother had the Broadway recording, so I already knew most of the songs and the general story line from listening to it repeatedly (wink). And I wanted to be Maria von Trapp. Not the children’s nanny or the baron’s wife, but the nun who sang in the convent and hills of the majestic Austrian Alps. Though a Protestant heretic, I romanticized and yearned for the contemplative life.
But Baptists and Presbyterians did not have contemplative orders. The nearest I could come was Mt. Calvary Retreat House in Santa Barbara, run by the Episcopal Church’s Order of the Holy Cross, and destroyed in the 2008 Montecito fire. Overlooking the entire Santa Barbara shoreline, beneath towering mountains and star-filled nights, I enjoyed personal retreats walking the surrounding hills as well as reading, writing, praying, and being reminded of God’s presence in scripture, sacrament, community, and nature.
As has happened throughout my ministry, I once had an appointment with a priest seeking advice. As he spoke of spending time at a family-run music lodge in Vermont, I looked down at my appointment calendar and remembered his last name was von Trapp! When I learned his relation to Maria von Trapp, I asked if she could autograph one of her books for my mother.
A few year’s before my mother’s death, she suggested I take the book. I said, “But she autographed it for you!” Mom corrected my memory, “No—her note was to you.” Of course, I still have the book entitled simply Maria, in which she wrote, “To Chris—When we fill our lives with love and express this in doing whatever we can for others we are on the right path. Love believes that every turn in the road reveals God in a new way. God bless you for your love for my [relative]. Love, Maria von Trapp.”
I couldn’t be Maria von Trapp, but I’m grateful for these consoling words.
Chris will be speaking on "Spiritual Abuse" at the Georgia Mountains Unitarian Universalist Church in Dahlonega, Georgia, on Sunday, July 31, at 11 a.m.