The Tricky Part, by Martin Moran

How does he do it, show the light in darkness? A story of a boy, as he says, falling from trespass into grace. A boy exploited, given too soon to the knowledge of the body—betrayed, as he felt, by his own body. And this man, the one who showed him his strength and wonder, then used his beauty like a Kleenex for his disposable desires.

Grace, then. No, first, despair, the attempts at suicide, the empty hours in the echoing school hallways full of crosses, holiness, and distance. Even in those places, an occasional light and this is what he shows gorgeously—the old nun telling him, at the kitchen table, that everything he does is already blessed. No disclosure, no healing stories, but this Light poured upon him.

More despair, more thoughts of killing himself. Then the tryouts for the school musical. A voice is found, a wonder arises in his soul—what is this miracle? I am seen and loved. The lights pick me out, the people laugh and clap. Maybe I should put off my suicide until after the fall production. The voice teacher witnesses his singing in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, she urges him to take lessons. She has to repeat her urging at the next musical in the next season before he takes it seriously, then goes trembling to her house.

Voice lessons, lessons in projection of spirit. She says, this is you in the universe, this is your soul coming out of your mouth. You have a gift to give to the world, Marty. You have a beauty of soul.

How does he do it, this Martin Moran? The light and love pouring through a living room with grand piano in Colorado are made manifest in the lines she says, the wonder he feels. Not uncomplicating anything, he holds the lust, the love, the exploitation, the forgiveness, the unfolding all in his hands.

Writing! Is there any more powerful act in the world? Well, there is acting. The first I knew of Martin Moran was his one-man show of The Tricky Part—painfully, beautifully open.

Thank you Martin Moran. Thank you for living into a full life as an actor, singer and writer. Thank you for showing us how you made it by the grace of what we might call God except that invokes the catholic Big Guy in the beard, the one whose church and sense of sin helped to make this story into a near-tragedy. But can we wish it had happened otherwise? No, that’s the Tricky Part of the title of the book. We can’t exactly wish it had happened differently.

The book is The Tricky Part: One Boy’s Fall from Trespass into Grace (Beacon Press).

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