I learned weeks ago that we would have karaoke one evening at the Evolutionary Collective seminar in Asilomar, California. And I knew that I would sing. Apart from the briefest karaoke moments, and one time when I gave voice to the Grade 6s, I hadn’t sung to a room of human beings for forty years.
I knew that I would choose The Wings That Fly Us Home by John Denver and Joe Henry. Denver’s words and voice have soared for me for many decades. John was killed while flying his ultralight plane off the coast of Pacific Grove, California. Today I visited his memorial:
So welcome the wind and the wisdom she offers
Follow her summons when she calls again
In your heart and your spirit, let the breezes surround you
Lift up your voice then and sing with the wind
It was time to follow and so I set out to learn the lyrics. On the day before the performance, a sign up sheet appeared on our meeting room wall. I picked up the marker and made it official. And a surge ran through me. John, Joe and I would touch hearts that were already open.
Half an hour before the singing, I walked the paths of Asilomar, letting “many ways of knowing” tumble from my lips. A strange calm came down, not at all what I expected. In the room, a hat held slips of paper. The hand of a four-year-old girl chose who would sing when. I was asked to join a few others in a silly song. I put on a gauzy green scarf and gave ‘er with my friends. Can’t even remember the title!
“Next … Bruce,” said our lovely MC Genevieve. (Gulp) I tightened. I took the offer of the microphone. Genevieve whispered “We’ve got you.” As I looked out over the audience of 70, I saw that she was right. I was being held.
And then … I sang! I fell into the recently memorized words. I took in the loved ones to the left and right. They were with me. They were pulling out my best. And I gave them that.
Thoughts of my voice cracking, of not reaching the low or high notes, of disappearing lyrics – faded away. I simply shared what John and Joe and Bruce had to say:
I know that love is seeing all the infinite in one
In the brotherhood of creatures, who the father who the son?
The vision of your goodness will sustain me through the cold
Take my hand now to remember when you find yourself alone
You’re never alone …
My head was up. My soul was up. My voice was Bruce.
Some stood at the end. It felt like they all loved me.
As the evening closed, very few people congratulated me. I felt a twinge of sadness about that, but then it faded away. We were within the many songs that were sung. The theme that tied the music together was love. We were that.
There is a world beyond praise and it lives in the shared moment. Such is worth infinitely more than better and worse.
Time stops. All the world sings. It is as it’s meant to be.