Greetings to all friends and family at this holiday time of year,
Nor’easter! That’s what is happening outside my window, here in New York today.
Not the greatest weather to shop the Union Square Holiday Market or hail a cab, but it is great weather for reflecting and settling the mind on more simple tasks: finishing work projects, practicing music, returning phone calls, clearing the desk, reading articles put aside, water proofing boots, maybe even baking cookies!
The year that once was new is now reaching its end. 365 days seems like a lot of time. But when you break it down, there is always a looming question:
Where Does All That Time Go?
I like to think much of my time goes into the fine art of writing, singing or practicing music. Even after all these years, I still feel humble about what I know and what I would like to learn about making music. My teachers remain very valuable to me but, at this stage of life, I must also count myself as one of my teachers. Patience. Persistence. Truth. Timing. These are my educational tools.
But at this writing, the one that sticks out most is Truth.
The city has been on high alert, since the Ferguson grand jury decision was announced last week. Helicopters swarm the skies at all hours and NYPD cars, vans, SUV’s and buses are parked two blocks from here, just in case something erupts at Union Square. Cab drivers explain that Union Square is the easiest meeting point for the five boroughs and a logical place for a demonstration. The neighborhood dogs feel the tension, as do the rest of us.
Not everyone likes to talk about it. Granted, it is a very volatile situation; a many-faceted problem in our country. Whichever way you spin it, the facts are there. A life was taken in an extreme and disordered manner. Two days after the verdict was released, the Lower East Side Girls Club of New York hosted a fundraiser at Middle Collegiate Church to support volunteer non-violent advocates for justice in Ferguson, MO. Members of the Gospel Choir were invited to sing with Joan Baez, renowned folk singer and civil rights advocate, that evening. What an event! She is a pilot light! She has a lineage and vision for advocacy that flows out of her like a basket bobbing down the Nile, or the Hudson, for that matter!
The experience was mighty! All ages, all colors, all styles of New Yorkers came together to sing, talk, testify, express and release what was heavy on our hearts. And the roof lifted! All our pent up energy morphed! The people came together to sing! Cameras were snapping, videos were purring. It was a Happening!
I have no easy conclusions about where we are as a city, as a country. It is a lot to hold at this usually festive time of year. I think of these words from Bob Beers' "The Peace Carol" (you might be familiar with the great John Denver and the Muppets' recording of this sweet song):
Add all the grief that people may bear, total the strife, the troubles and care.
Put them in columns and leave them right there. The peace of Christmas Day.
My heart is with everyone whose columns are overflowing with grief and strife, yet they still plan, organize, and find ways forward towards change that embraces peace and justice.
Life is ever changing, ever renewing. Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you a very loving and fulfilling holiday season filled with good food, good thoughts, good friends, good times!
Love and enlightened sugar plums,