Sunday, October 5, 2008

It All Began With A Song*

Am getting in the mode to upload some photos of a "pretty incredible experience.", as a dear friend might say. It all began when we were invited to attend a meeting for a Sing- A- Long, up in Beacon, N.Y.--   a little town nestled in the Hudson River Valley, right over the Connecticut line, an approximately two & 3/4 hour trip from where I live. My husband & I missed one of the rehearsals for this Sing-A-Long, as it was on the same evening of our "UN International Day Of Peace" event. We had sung the song together on the evening of the first day of Rosh Hashanah-- the Jewish New Year. This was the second time we had ever sung this song & it sounded wonderful!

Now I'm not really an avid traveler, but try real hard to put myself out there, to challenge myself to experience new & meaningful events which are intended to enhance my life's journey. This trip was one of them, not only was I a bit ragged from the ragweed earlier in the day [which I resolved], but the trip meant driving due west beginning at dusk 4:30pm, which became another challenge of the day-- as my sunglasses weren't the very best, & they let in a lot of the ultraviolet's. My medium blue eyes had let so much sun in on the drive to the meeting point that by the time I had reached this gathering of friends outside of Hartford I could barley think straight. The solar dosing had really taken it's toll. I had been asked to be one of the drivers, oye, this was not going to work..... My dear friends took immediate note of my plight & the driving assignment was again scuffled. It worked out great as I was given the middle seat of their minivan, & from there on the quest, of our quest was very positive indeed---

What is this quest you might ask? What's with this mission to sing a song so far from home?

On the surface it can all seem so simple, & in all actuality it is, yet of the poets heart to put together a string of words, & if you are blessed to have these words put to tune, how best to share a dream, a hope, a prayer with humankind-- then those words becoming transported & becoming the tune in an other's heart, as we link our circles with hope & with love.  *Amen*

The song we sang on Friday October the 8th, was written almost 50 years ago to that date.  It was written by Pete Seeger, a most gifted singer, song writer. A graciously generous & humble man, a person who continues to have the courage & the strength to stand for peace & to convey his deep commitment,-- "I remain hopeful that people can change.".  Pete Seeger said after he told the story of John Newton, who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace".  He went on to say, "He worked on a slave trading ship when he was a teenager.  He married at some point of his adulthood, but his wife was always opposed to slavery. One of the jobs he was offered had all the aspects of being very lucrative. He did not take that job, the ship went down at sea, never to be seen or heard from again.", Pete told us.  It was after that statement of what had happened that we were told about the epiphany or was it an Aha moment that John Newton had. The wording or term of what gave John Newton those moments of clearly connecting with his soul & the interconnected souls of humankind is only semantics's, as language can not always convey what is in our hearts, mind & soul. Music, the universal language comes pretty close & that's how the hymn "Amazing Grace" was born. Pete explained to our group of approximately 60 people or so,that John Newton never again earned his living in the practice of slavery, & instead became a Minister who became know far & wide for his composition of hymns.  

To partake of "Amazing Grace"  with Pete Seeger leading us all in this song, having had explained that there were many melodies to this hymn, but we were going to sing it with the tune that we had all become familiar with, as it had become the most popular of it's tunes. He had us hold onto the notes in a rather elongated extended fashion, & it proved to be one of the most spiritually uplifting versions of this hymn that I ever experienced.    

Many a gifted person sang & made music at that meeting up in Beacon, N.Y. that night. Prior to the Sing-A-Long we learned about the Beacon Sloop Club's projects of keeping their sloops in good sailing condition, as they are the people who with the help of Pete Seeger, literally cleaned up the Hudson River. Some decades ago the river was so polluted from the raw sewage & other waste from businesses & factories along it's banks, that it was dangerous to all life in it's waters. Safe fishing & swimming was unthinkable!     

A new chapter & a new day thanks to the immense efforts of Pete Seeger & the Beacon Sloop Club. Free sails are offered on the club's sloops up & down the Hudson to mid October, & all are welcome. People can safely swim in the Hudson River now with numerous events & festivals--  celebrating the beauty of this unique ecosystem-- on going throughout the year on it's water & it's banks.  The newest sloop is named the Woody Guthrie, & just thinking of the man who gave us the song-- "This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land" , a dear friend of Pete Seeger, who has helped to bring this song to all of us...."This land was made for you & me...."

It was due to this that I so wanted to help to facilitate my dear friend's dream of singing Pete Seeger's song to him with a group of singing friends at one of the Beacon Sloop Club's usual Sing-A-Longs.  We sang Pete's near 50 year old song-- "O Had I a Golden Thread"  The song sings of a "rainbow design", hopeful & uplifting--  singing -- "To every human being so they would understand".  This song is sung for "Children of all earth".

One doesn't need the IQ of a genius to paint the picture in one's mind--  human kindness, understanding, & acceptance to further us to world peace. It may be a dream, but if someone like Pete Seeger has never put the dream aside, then neither shall we.
It was for all these reasons that I so wanted to be part of my dear friend's dream, to help facilitate her in her wish to sing this very precious song in the presence of the man who has given us flowers to think about & where they may have gone, "long time passing...."

As God is with us Always, & Wishing All--  Ahava, Shalom/Salam--  

*{as the days progress some interesting photos will follow- 


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