Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I was watching the news last night, when they broadcast a story about a participant in Britain's Got Talent, a British relative of American Idol. The story was newsworthy because of the contestant, one Susan Boyle -- a 47-year-old church volunteer from a small Scottish village. Her appearance wrought chuckles, sneers, and snickers from the audience, who roared in laughter when she said she wanted to be a professional singer. No one could have looked less like a professional singer in her modest dress and most plain features.

When she sang, however, the whole dowdy image dropped away and the clarity and beauty of her voice rang out across the auditorium. Laughing smiles became looks of startlement and shock, and then warmed into genuine smiles of enjoyment and appreciation. Those whose expectations were based the usual package for a professional singer were flabergasted and for a few moments the inner beauty and talent of the woman glowed on that stage.

It made me ashamed of how I tend to package folks, based on their appearance. And, considering the humility I learn each morning in the mirror, I can understand the courage it must have taken to take that step and reach for the dream. Bravo, Susan Boyle, Bravo!


Package Deal

A woman walked out to sing to a crowd,
And they snickered and smiled and laughed out loud.
To their eyes she was a dowdy old dame,
Whose appearance was drab and bland and lame.
She was awkward and moved willy-nilly;
When she gestured and danced she looked silly.
Then the crowd guffawed at her next zinger,
She said she wanted to be a singer!

They all thought her reputation was dead,
But the judges told her to go ahead.

She gestured off stage, for music to start,
And we waited, for her to break her heart
When she started to sing, but we were wrong.
The world shifted when she started that song...
Her voice was golden and clear, and it rang
Like a silver bell, as she blithely sang,
And accomplishing her most cherished goal -
Touched each and every listening soul.

Away fell the image of dowdy old age;
Away fell the wrappings on the package,
And to our wondering eyes did appear,
A glorious soul, with a talent clear
And abundant, with a beautiful sound
That had soared and echoed and danced around,
Till the shadow of prejudice grew thin:
At last we could see the beauty within.

Mick McKellar
April 2008

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