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River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.
This is my column for this month’s Catholic Free Press. May the Holy Spirit give you strength and consolation as he fills you with God’s love and leads you to new life.
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Towards sanctity: the Spirit’s call from fear to love
Sometimes I think I should have been born a house cat. Indoor cats crave comfort and security above all else and this is my priority too. Have you ever noticed the lengths cats will go to find that perfect spot to sleep? It’s always on the softest pillow, the coziest quilt, the laundry basket full of clothes just drawn from a hot dryer.
That pursuit of comfort drives my actions. I will choose to look frumpy rather than wear clothes that bind me in any way. I opted out of going to a favorite spot to watch the spring bird migration because it was cold and rainy. Making comfort my top priority has turned me into a notorious homebody. I’ve become complacent and rigid.
I will be at Boucher’s Good Books, 254 Lake Street, Worcester for a River of Grace book signing and impromptu live concert featuring the music from the River of Grace Soundtrack CD! The book and CD would make a great gift for someone you love. Come on down and say hello!
Susan Bailey has faced her fair share of challenges and “difficult times” and yet she’s emerged not only a survivor, but also even stronger in her spiritual commitment and joy. In this book, learn what made the difference for Susan in her spiritual journey, but even more so how to face your own struggles with a faith that will renew and support you. A perfect gift for any friend or loved one facing a time of loss or difficulty, or for yourself when you need the companionship of a trusted friend. The “Flow Lessons” contained in this book are the perfect tools to help you more fully rely on God’s love in your life. Highly recommend!
In this EXCEPTIONALLY well-written book, Susan Bailey shares some of her most challenging moments and shows others how to find the grace hidden in life’s difficulties. This book inspires Christians to pursue the paths of authentic faith amid the currents and seasons of life. The “flow lessons” that accompany each chapter provide readers with simple, hands-on, experiences that move the author’s reflections into concrete and practical application. With both eloquence and humility, what River of Grace offers is a deeper answer to personal struggle, and a healthier alternative to the fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality. Above all, this is a book that gives hope.
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday–spread the word!
The album is finished and I can now give you a full preview. From listening to this preview you will see that I got an exceptionally good product for a budget of $1600; in fact, it’s phenomenal! I can’t begin to thank my producer, Ron Zabrocki, enough for his talent, vision and commitment to this project.
Here is a sample of all seven songs (minute long samples):
And here is the artwork for the CD:
I hope you have enjoyed this preview. My Indiegogo campaign is ending this Thursday, the 15th and we have a ways to go. Your donation would be most appreciated. We have the finished product but expenses need to be covered. Please visit my campaign at http://igg.me/at/susanbailey.
This past Wednesday was a BIG day. This arrived in the mail …
But that was not all. I also got the final mix of my soundtrack CD for River of Grace from the producer. And I have to say he really outdid himself. I sent him a text back with 7 hearts – one for each song!
It was one of those rare, extraordinary days that sends you into orbit and you just want to cling to that feeling forever. I will write about it in my journal so I can go back and bathe in that grace, that pure gift from God whenever discouragement knocks on my door.
Now, I would like to share what God gave to me with you.
River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times is a spiritual memoir that reveals how several major losses helped me rediscover creativity and faith. Published by Ave Maria Press, it is described as “Filled with powerful insights on the presence and action of grace–in the Mass and the sacraments, nature and grief, and even through the life and works of Louisa May Alcott–River of Grace guides readers in strengthening their faith, discovering their own hidden gifts and restoring a joy in living during and after tough times.” It contains lots of practical spiritual exercises called Flow Lessons that lead you there. (Some of the Flow Lessons are on this site–check them out here.)
Losing a part of yourself
One of the losses I experienced was that of my singing voice. Yet throughout the writing of River of Grace, I kept thinking of songs that would fit with each chapter. While writing the third chapter on the loss of my voice, I experienced a miraculous healing after receiving a throat blessing on the Feast of St. Blaise.
This song was playing in my head; here’s a passage from chapter 3 on why:
How Can I Keep from Singing • Traditional Quaker hymn
“Instead of being raw and fragmented, I began to feel whole. A sense of wonder and deep gratitude welled up inside. The following Sunday as I entered the church to go to Mass I was immediately struck with the knowledge that I had received a significant healing with that throat blessing. I couldn’t wait to tell the priest.
Thereafter during Mass I noticed that it became easier to sing the hymns. Buoyed, I pushed my voice a bit further each week. One day while driving home after Mass I sang some of the most challenging songs in my repertoire including “I Know That My
Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s Messiah and discovered to my delight that I could sing them just as I had before. My voice had been restored. I had received a physical healing along with the emotional and spiritual.” (from chapter 3, River of Grace)
New life after loss
River of Grace is also about new life. In the writing I learned that creativity is far more than being able to sing, dance, paint or write. Creativity is all about intention. As the Lord led me on my journey towards a new creativity in my life, I thought of Psalm 103, traditionally read during the Easter season, and this song:
So that’s the big reveal! This project has been my life for the last two years and a lot of the transformation I write about happened as I was writing the book. Gotta love the immediacy of the Holy Spirit at work.
Ave Maria Press is everything everyone said it would be. Totally professional, really helpful, and daring, taking chances on newbies like myself. I am so honored to have a book published by them.
You can order River of Grace (the book) through Ave Maria Press and Amazon. Don’t forget to write a review after you’ve read it!
The CD will be available by the end of October; I’ll let you know when it’s ready.
Fundraiser almost over; still need your help
I hope you are enjoying these clips from the new CD. With the deadline of October 15 looming just around the corner, I still need much help in meeting the goal of raising $1600 to pay for the making of the CD. You can donate at http://igg.me/at/susanbailey. Every dollar counts. If you can only give $5 or $10, I will be so grateful. And for those who can give more, I am offering some rewards which I think you’ll appreciate.
Have you ever wondered just how a song is recorded? It’s rather like building a building from the ground up, or making a layer cake. Here’s a simple demonstration from the recording of “Spirit of Life” (written by Carolyn McDade, Surtsey Publishing Company) for my River of Grace Soundtrack CD:
Recording is a long and tedious process of such layering but it’s fun and rewarding too when you hear the final product. Besides the layering of vocals, instruments are added in (more than you can imagine!). Then the engineer (in this case Ron) makes sure every little piece can be heard – this is done by something called panning. When you listen to a stereo recording through headphones you can pick out how there’s a little guitar here, a little percussion there … it’s all quite fascinating to figure out just what is in a recording of your favorite song.
Special effects are added in as well (such as putting a little echo into the voice, known as reverb. Without reverb, it sounds like you’re singing in a small room. With reverb, it can sound like you’re singing in a cathedral with slate floors (or something a little smaller).
This is just the beginning of the process for “Spirit of Life;” very soon I can show you the final result.
By the way, here’s a peak at the cover for the CD. Longtime readers of Be as One will recognize it:
8 days left … need your help!
With just 8 days left in the campaign I really need your help! Please visit my Indiegogo site at http://igg.me/at/susanbailey and contribute what you can. And thank you!
Thank you to all who have pre-ordered River of Grace! You can find it on Amazon.com.
The CD is coming along nicely and I expect to have some finished product later this week! I will share as I receive them. There are several short videos on my Indiegogo campaign page that you can view for a sneak preview.
Here is one showing the progress so far on a classic hymn, “How Can I Keep from Singing:”
We recorded the lead vocals at Ron Zabrocki’s studio and then later I added on harmonies from my own studio which I then sent to Ron. He then will polish it with additional instruments and vocals. I can’t wait to hear what he does and share it with you!
In River of Grace, I wrote about how it felt to lose my singing voice …
“Eventually we face the prospect of letting go of something we cherish about ourselves. As my voice began to lose consistency, I knew now how others felt: the loss of my voice truly was a death. I missed that sensual feeling of singing, how it used to vibrate in my throat and buzz in my head. I’d never again hear that nice clear sound echo throughout the church and come back to me. I had sung with such ease that I could forget all about the technique of singing and just get into the prayer of it. There were times when those memories would flood my mind, and I would break out in spontaneous tears.” (Chapter 3, River of Grace)
And then regain it again:
“Instead of being raw and fragmented, I began to feel whole. A sense of wonder and deep gratitude welled up
inside. The following Sunday as I entered the church to go to Mass I was immediately struck with the knowledge
that I had received a significant healing with that throat blessing. I couldn’t wait to tell the priest.
Thereafter during Mass I noticed that it became easier to sing the hymns. Buoyed, I pushed my voice a bit further each week. One day while driving home after Mass I sang some of the most challenging songs in my repertoire … and discovered to my delight that I could sing them just as I had before … I had received a physical healing along with the emotional and spiritual.” (Chapter 3, River of Grace)
Thus you can see how I had to record “How Can I Keep from Singing”!
Coping with loss
Perhaps you have lost something precious about yourself; something that was once so natural, so easy to do is now hard or impossible to do. As we age, this kind of loss can occur. We can lose something we cherish about ourselves and feel sad and adrift. It is a great challenge that requires patience and faith; we have to learn to let it go.
In River of Grace I write about the struggle of letting something I loved go; I never expected to get it back again, It was in the course of writing the chapter that I experienced the healing. I did not seek it nor ask for it; I just wanted to learn to live with the loss. It was pure gift, abundant grace, and that is the mystery of God’s merciful love.
My gift from God
All I know is that now I feel deep gratitude every time I open my mouth to sing. I savor the moments I can sing in church, awestruck that God would give me a second chance to sing for Him.
This is why I had to record this album. I wanted a musical testimony to accompany what I had written. I wanted to share my gratitude and offer a witness to God’s merciful love. His love is available to all of us!
Launch day is coming soon!
By the end of the month, River of Grace will be officially launched. The CD will be available as well. In the meantime, I would really appreciate your help in financing the CD. There are ten days left to contribute to my Indiegogo campaign; click here to contribute.
Over the course of the next ten days I will share other songs from the soundtrack and passages from the book to show you how these songs correspond with the text.
They asked if I would focus on the works of Louisa May Alcott. As you know, I am passionate about Alcott’s life and works, having run a blog called Louisa May Alcott is My Passion for the last five years. Here is the result:
This book contains fifty passages from several of Alcott’s book including Little Women. Each passage is accompanied by a Bible passage from The Message, a fresh and contemporary translation of the ancient text.
What is cool about this is that In River of Grace I write extensively on the impact of Louisa’s life and works on my life as I was grieving over my mother. There were many passages from her books on which I wrote about and pondered which acted as a balm on my grief. This reading and writing eventually led to my becoming a published author.
A prayer book to accompany River of Grace
Many of the passages that I have included in this Louisa May Alcott volume as those that inspired me during that time. It’s like reading an accompanying prayer book to River of Grace!
From my first CD called Teach Me to Love I present a fun and uplifting song, “Come Holy Spirit!”
Of all the songs recorded for this album, “Come Holy Spirit!” was the most fun. At the time of its recording in 2000, my husband Rich was co-leading the youth choir at our parish of St. Luke the Evangelist. Made up of teenagers (along with Rich, co-leader Sarah Connors and percussionist Joe Jaworski), the youth choir sang at the Sunday night 6:30 mass. Continue reading “Celebration in Song: “Come Holy Spirit!””→