I woke up this morning, thinking about the word “glorious”. The last few days, I have used my Morning Pages time, my free writing, to explore my thoughts about the song This is Me, from the film The Greatest Showman, line by line.
Since my thoughts seemed focused there, I wondered if I would be writing about being glorious today. In answer to my unspoken question, I saw, within a span of three minutes, the word “glorious” and the word “glory”. I took that as a resounding yes!
In the movie Keala Settle wonderfully portrays Lettie, the bearded lady at PT Barnum’s circus. This film tells Barnum’s story, however, we witness Lettie’s transformation as well. Her beard, the thing that makes her different, doesn’t go away. But Lettie’s fear and shame do. We see her beauty shine forth as she embraces who she is and accepts herself wholeheartedly. She becomes the voice for the group, in many ways.
And speaking of voice, she can sing! Lettie has a rich, beautiful voice and with Barnum, she becomes a star. The crowds don’t laugh at her. They cheer and applaud, wildly.
At the heart of The Greatest Showman is the message that we all have differences. That’s what makes us unique. Lettie’s song, This is Me, is so powerful because it is not only her anthem, it’s the heart cry of all of us.
The lyrics that caught my own heart over the past three days are these:
I won’t let them break me down to dust, I know that there’s a place for us. For we are glorious.
Lettie is referring to the words and actions of others, and not letting those people break her down to dust. Dust makes me think of dirt…as in nothing. We have sad expressions about feeling like dirt or being dumb as dirt. We equate dirt with nothingness, something we wipe off our shoes and forget. The words, actions, and opinions of others can make us feel that worthless. I think symbolically dust represents death as well, as in “to dust you shall return”. Death can come to our spirits, through the taunts and jeers of others, long before it claims our bodies.
Lettie continues singing that she knows there’s a place for us, including here her new family group, called oddities by some. There is room for everyone, a place for each of us with our unique gifts and perspectives. We need our differences. The world needs them, needs us all, with our brilliant quirks and our creative talents.
For we are glorious.
I love that choice of words. Glorious. Glory. From the Latin word gloria. High renown or honor, magnificence or great beauty, sacredness. As a verb, to take pride or pleasure in.
For we are glorious, Lettie sings. She knows. We are glorious. We are magnificent. We are full of beauty. We are sacred. See our glory. Take pride and pleasure in who we are, because we do.
This is us…this is me. And we are glorious.
This is the shining truth in Lettie’s song. It’s why this song is affecting people at such a deep level. It’s why This is Me is nominated for an Oscar and why it became my song for 2018.
Shortly after those words, Lettie sings, I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be.
I thought about what it means to be brave. Courage is another word for brave. And that word comes from the Latin word cor, meaning heart. Courage is a heart thing, not strong actions or being completely fearless. It is a surety, born in our core.
Brené Brown says that the original definition of courage was “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”.
That’s what Lettie has learned. She knows, in her heart, at her core, who she is. She is telling her story, from that place of courage, even though she has been bruised, marked, by life. She isn’t willing to hide herself away any more. She can sing, with breathtaking beauty and honesty, This is me…and I am glorious.
I want to take this truth in. I want to incubate it for a while. And then let it be born fully in me. There are so many ways to hide who we are. So many ways to feel shame over who we are. So many ways to be bruised. Courage is being bruised and afraid and allowing who you are to shine, differences and all.
My courage, your courage, telling our stories from whole hearts, allows others to do the same. What an amazing ripple of change such courage sends out into the world. We can do it. For we are glorious.