Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Watershed Moments in Life (A reflection on Pete Seeger's death and my son's 14th birthday)

Turn, Turn, Turn song and lyrics by Pete Seeger as found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Howard Thurman, writing in With Head and Heart said:   "A [human] life is a single statement. This does not seem to be the case because we measure our lives episodically, in terms of events, particular circumstances and experiences. But every incident is but a partial rendering of the total life. Some events are marked by dramatic intervals, by pain or joy, which may cause us to mark the place and to memorialize it for all our days. They are watershed moments."

A Facebook friend, David LaMotte, who is a singer/song writer, teacher, author, social justice advocate, says that one his “watershed” moments was having the opportunity to sing on stage with Pete Seeger, who died yesterday at the age of 94.  David wrote a beautiful tribute to Pete Seeger.  You can read it at this link -  http://davidlamotte.com/2014/01/learned-pete-seeger/

Yesterday, my son turned 14.  80 years separated Pete Seeger and my son in life and in death.   Like David LaMotte, Pete Seeger had a moment of influence on his young life as a budding guitar player.  Sam and I had dinner at our neighbor’s home on Saturday night.  Sue loves folk music, so naturally it was playing in the background while we visited over supper.  Sam received an education on the folk music - history, songs, their meaning, and of course the singers.  He also had to put up with the small group of adults gathered around the table, pausing in the midst of the meal and chewing to sing a few verses.  No discussion of this classic American genre of music would be complete without Pete Seeger.  While Sam’s encounter with Pete Seeger is nothing compared to David LaMottes, I think it goes to show the type of influence this man had on many people young and old.

Howard Thurman says, “Some events are marked by dramatic intervals, by pain or joy, which may cause us to mark the place and to memorialize it for all our days. They are watershed moments.”

Singing with Pete Seeger on the 10th anniversary of September 11, the birth of our son, the death of a loved one, the doctor’s words, a friends comforting presence, a sunset, a bird’s song, a poem, a song.  All these things, little and large as they may seem in our lives are key moments, “watershed” events, and none are to be overlooked.

Today is January 28.  It is a new day.  Pete Seeger who lived among us, now lives eternally in our hearts and songs.  Sam is 14.  He is no longer the baby I held in my arms, rocking him to sleep, but is a young man.  A turning from one day to the next, one year to another.  Life goes on.  On this new day, the sun is shinning brightly, warming the chair I sit in as I write these words.  Outside my window, the polar vortex grips most of the Midwest, freezing us with its sub-zero weather.  Winter being what it is, reminds me of the seasonal changes in all our lives, giving us pause to reflect, remember, celebrate and give thanks, and then turn the page on the day past, welcoming this new day, this different day, this different you and me day, this new God day, which when you think about it, ordinary as it may be, is a watershed moment in all our lives.

I wonder what have been those key moments you "book mark" in your life, turning the pages back, remembering why it influenced you, changed you, inspired you, and sent you off in maybe new directions

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