I admit it. I may be the last Susan Boyle fan in the world to have just gotten a copy of her wonderful new album, "I Dreamed a Dream." It's a wonderful early Christmas present from an always-kind and considerate benefactor to our mission center.
Although her performance is beautiful throughout, I noticed something I had not caught before in my favorite — the CD's signature song from "Les Miserables."
Susan made the song even more her own with a subtle change in its lyrics.
The word "dream," or a variation of it, is used more than ten times in the original song by the tragic character Fantine after she is left alone, unemployed and destitute. But Susan has made a change that, perhaps, only a priest would notice: She sings "I prayed that God would be forgiving" instead of the original "I dreamed that God would be forgiving."
While it's not the only change Susan has made from the original score by French composer Claude-Michel Schonberg and librettist Alain Boublil, it is a decidedly "SuBo" stamp on this theatrical classic.
Deeply religious and a regular visitor to the Irish shrine to Our Lady of Knock in County Mayo, Susan's faith — as well as her extraordinary talent — has saved her, and given her a life and not simply an existence. As she told Simon Cowell before stunning the world on "Britain's Got Talent," she came to the competition to prove she could do something with her life, that she could be someone.
For Susan, as for all of us, a dream and a prayer seem to be one and the same.
But they are not.
A prayer is a dream shared with God, and it is only in that holy sharing that a dream can come true. As hers did.
Our Loving Father's Happiness is beyond measure when we open ourselves to Him and ask for His Blessings. We can be sure He hears them all, and through ways often mysterious and puzzling, grants them all as well. He would withhold nothing from His Own Dear Children, but His Perfect Mind knows what is best for those whom He loves without any condition.
His Answer to our prayers may not be the winning lottery ticket for which we light candles in churches, because He knows we can be, and often are, deeply mistaken in our desires — praying for things that will actually cause us great harm — and not bring us the "joy" we "know" will be ours with baskets of green paper strips.
God's Love is an endless and unstoppable force that relentlessly seeks to extend Itself, and when we see the prayers of someone like Susan's seemingly granted, we also see why. Susan is radiant with God's Love — His Gift to her, and to us all. And in turn, she extends His Love to millions of people who have found hope in her "story" and new faith in Our Loving Father.
Small wonder, then, that the self-described "wee wifey with the cat," whose life has been a great struggle, but who kept her dreams alive and her faith strong, would take some justifiable artistic license with "her" song — originally titled "J'avais Rêvé d'une Autre Vie" ("I Dreamed of Another Life").
No, God did not grant Susan "another life" — one beautiful and eternal life is enough for us all! But He Touched her willing heart with His Loving Heart, and gave a great Gift to her, and to millions of others. When the time came to record "I Dreamed a Dream," it was a "prayer," not a "dream," that was inside Susan.
God bless you all!
— Father Tim
Father Tim is a Jesuit missionary, trained in New York and Boston, who writes about the spiritual side of life. He loves hearing from readers – not about theological arguments, but real-life issues that matter to you.