Paying Attention Bill McDonald’s
February 2021 - Volume 21, No. 2
The Sweet Silver Song of a Lark
Remember that song from Rogers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel” - back in the 1950’s?“When you Walk Through a Storm”.  (Lyrics below in Footnotes)
What were you and I doing and thinking this past Christmas? Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris had been (duly and/or apparently) elected President and Vice President of the United States. Votes were being counted, and recounted and recounted and fought over in a multitude of awkward court cases. On Monday, December 14, the Electoral College was to gather and hopefully put the question to rest. We call it the ‘peaceful’ transition of authority. But it was not yet to be.
Then came January 6, the 12th and final Day after Christmas - when by tradition, the Three Kings from the East, arrived in Bethlehem to pay homage to the infant Jesus, the newborn King of the Jews. Not too many miles away in Jerusalem, Herod the Great, the King of Palestine was by stealth from his Jerusalem bunker plotting the death of the new King. In his rage, he had his soldiers massacre (by tradition) 200 innocent children in and around Bethlehem under the age of two years. The Three Kings returned home “by another route” and Joseph was able to spirit the infant King and his mother Mary across the barren desert south into Egypt, where they remained in exile until word came that Herod had died.
We have a parallel. Can you spell ‘jealous rage’? An old ‘King’ refusing to release his power to a new one who was by right to be ‘crowned’ President.The doctrine of false facts had been widely promulgated across the kingdom now for over four years, as if awaiting this very day. Mr. Trump had directed his troops to the Citadel, and from his own hiding place blessed them with his murderous rage and directed them to storm the Castle on his behalf. We were able to watch in horror on TV, as our Capital was literately being overtaken from the outside, and then later to learn what was going on inside as well, as the terrified people of our government were herded away to safekeeping, often just steps ahead of the invaders. We are hearing even now, how many feared for their lives.There was terror and destruction, lots of weaponry and death itself. And yes, there was heroism.
Even now, just a month or so following, there is so much to clean up. Donald Trump, no longer our president, still refuses to admit any responsibility. The judicial and justice communities are hard at work to identify and account for the perpetrators. The scars of mental trauma will take a long time, if ever, to heal.
Yet I recall, on the day, January 21, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn into office, accepting responsibility and leadership for healing the people and the land - I felt a lightness. As if I heard a bird singing. That soothing was so opposite to what I had seen and felt on January 6.
And now to Leister, in the East Midlands of England
Within that week, I just happened to hear news that Gerry Marsden, of Gerry and the Pacemakers (of the 1960’s music scene fame) had died on January 3. It was noted that his primary claim to fame was that he had firmly implanted into that English town and it’s Leister City Football (soccer) Club his favorite song “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
And now to Independence, Iowa - 62 years ago
There, on the edge of the prairie, my High School graduating Class of 1959 - all 54 of us (27 boys and 27 girls) had chosen as our class song “When you Walk Through a Storm.” I was in the choir that sang it at Graduation.
It’s been many years since I’ve had occasion to even think of that song. But now I can’t get it out of my head.
My family left Independence years ago. And so have most of my friends from those years of my youth. But many of us have faithfully regathered every five years, and I believe there’s only once I wasn’t able to return.
Every once in awhile I’d wonder why I make the almost 550 trip mile mostly solo drive to return. But when I get there I definitely know why. These are the folks who gave me this song as we departed for other venues and life placements. And even though, it has remained hidden for all this time, until now - when it seems I need it more than usual, it’s right there.
It was just what I needed at the passing of the year, in these past months. I looked to YouTube, and found that almost everybody who was anybody has recorded that song. (My favorite is Susan Boyle.) I’ve given YouTube links in the footnotes below.
How is it there often lying beneath our awareness, a treasure or gift that was planted in the past just awaiting the time when we most need it? I treasure now the memory of this song given me by my classmates so many years ago.
May these lyrics foretell for you, goodness and a better life unfolding worthy of our hopes and dreams, for and among each of us. It doesn’t erase the storms, but promises what purpose can come of them.
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Tho' your dreams
Be tossed and blown
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone
This, of course, betrays my own political world view, and I acknowledge there are others who’s peaceful hopes (for all of us) may rest well elsewhere.