reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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outraged. and weeping. [d.r. thursday]

Weeping Man copy

weeping man (reverse threading, april 23, 2020):

…this global pandemic is just that – global- and is not discerning of your privilege (or lack thereof).  it does not care.  it can take anyone.  and so we weep.

if there is a painting that depicts the face-holding grief and prayerful yearning for hope, it is this painting WEEPING MAN.

i wonder if he weeps for those who have fallen ill, those who have died.  i wonder if he weeps for those who refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of this pandemic.  i wonder if he weeps for those on the front lines, helping.  i wonder if he weeps for those who have hidden in extravagant bunkers underground in far away countries.  i wonder if he weeps for our isolation.  i wonder if he weeps watching people intolerant of the isolation that will protect others, people who are selfishly and arrogantly protesting stay-at-home orders.  i wonder if he weeps for the unrelenting non-discrimination of this contagion or if he weeps for the divisiveness of responsibility-taking, the it-doesn’t-affect-me attitude.  i wonder if he weeps for the continuance of humanity.  or if he weeps for the loss of humankind.  or, if he weeps for the lack of humaneness.  i wonder if he weeps because, in the middle of this trying and profound now,  Next will come.  i wonder if this painting is tomorrow’s tomorrow and he weeps with relief and hope.

today:

i am outraged.

where have we come since april 23 of that writing?  we have been cautioned.  we have been advised.  we have had the benefit of science, the benefit of research, the benefit of funding, the heart-wrenching benefit of experience.

we have lost 150,000 people.

and we stand to lose many more.

the shifting quicksand of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm our nation, this country fraught with division and a dedication to entitlement.  people argue for their “right” to do-what-they-want because, well, they want to.  the “we-didn’t-get-to-do-this-so-we-get-to-do-that” mode of thinking.  a warped sense of deservedness, i’ve heard it time and again.  to hell with masks, with physical distancing.  to hell with recommendations about gatherings.  to hell with self-sacrifice.  to hell with responsibility.  to hell with leadership, with facts, with example-setting.  to hell with it all.  people-living-in-a-community-called-a-country are left-and-right touting their deserved-rights to live as they wish, to gather as they wish, to travel as they wish, to do what they wish.  and the overwhelmingly whiny justification-among-justifications is because they didn’t get to do what they originally wished or planned or wanted.  wow.

and the pandemic continues.

and the people-living-in-a-community-called-a-country live as individuals more dedicated to their own desires than to the actual good of the country.  to hell with all those people dying.  to hell with all those sick.  to hell with the sanctity of each and every living human being.  to hell with all those lasting repercussions of this disease.  to hell with a spirit of helping.  to hell with a spirit of community.  whose idea was that anyway?

and so we continue to destroy ourselves – in so many arenas.  and the weeping man watches from the sidelines as the divided people lash it out in the stadium, gladiators of precisely what?

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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WEEPING MAN ©️ 2015 david robinson


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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

download IT’S A LONG STORY on iTUNES

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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on fire. [d.r. thursday]

House On Fire

HOUSE ON FIRE

it is.  on fire.

this house – this country – is on fire.

there are some fires that water will simply not douse, that regular fire-mitigating won’t choke out.  this is one of those.

it rages with hotter heat and more tenacity.  it is impervious to deterrents.  its flames reach into the souls of those with souls and its ash, always ready to ignite, is never extinguished, never snuffed out, smoldering for more years than we can wrap our heads around.

its destruction has burned more deeply into lives than the magma-chasm of volcanos.

there aren’t enough words to quell the wrenching heartache of inequity – the fire has eaten through them all.

there is silence – staggering, heartbroken, earth-shattering silence – and we must hear it.

there aren’t enough excuses to explain it away – people have turned their backs on this smoldering fire, consensual participants in fanning the blaze, the oppression, the hatred.

there are reasons – a history of inequity that predates us and continues like an undercurrent, always there.

there aren’t enough condolences to offer those burned and scarred – empty thoughts and prayers are issued by people standing in bigot-hydrant vicinity, safely far enough away, not in the fray, not affected or effecting.

there are empty words of solicitousness, of sympathy – the pat on the head and the turn back to your-own-life.

there aren’t solutions ready at the fingertips – the listening, talking, desperately sincere efforts to understand, to have empathy, to stop and put on others’ shoes, the soles of which have been melted by the hot lava of this fire.  these are within our grasp; we must step out of complicit complacency.  we must acknowledge the chasm between lip service and true comprehension.  black lives matter.

there is an imperative – to take action, to make change.

in the middle of peaceful protestors being forcibly removed from the area near the white house with tear gas and rubber bullets, the president of this country haughtily walked across the street and stood before a church holding a bible.  it was an empty moment, devoid of positive or constructive meaning, spraying more firestarter onto a fire-lit-for-centuries.  an arsonist.  shameful.

“what else can happen?” we wonder?

each day we are stunned.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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these old woods. [two artists tuesday]

stump copy

this is an old woods.  while we still can hike in it, we are driving -without stopping- to the woods and, generally without seeing anyone else, taking a hike.  it is grounding to be in a woods that is old, a woods that is natural.

around us many trees have fallen.  they lay quietly on the ground, nurselogs to others, the white rot fungi that is sharing their space an invitation to symbiosis.

we spend time looking up at the very-mature-trees standing, reaching to the sky, parallel to each other, taking in the sun.  they too share their space.  they have endured storm and wind, snow and torrential rain; they have endured times of thirst and times of excessive heat.  they are still enduring.

i suspect most of these trees are much older than us.  their rings of life could tell stories of lack, stories of abundance, stories of challenge and stories of ease.  yet, they quietly stand, swaying in the wind like cattails along the curves of a slow river.  not one boasts of its steadfastness; not one complains of its fall.  the wisdom of the ages seemingly is in the long story.  not in the angrily staccato-ed punctuation of a self-indulgent-short-story.

we step into the forest and the community of trees seems to sigh, pleased to see us again.  it is not the prettiest of woods.  but it is deeply, silently reassuring.  life goes on.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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a house remembers. [two artists tuesday]

a house

there is a screen door that i am lusting over.  it sits outside an antique shoppe, subject to the rain and snow, sun and wind.  one of these days we will take big red over there and purchase it; the test is that i am still thinking about it.  we have no idea where we will put it.  but there is something about it; it has a story and that story will always be a mystery to us.  giving that door a home again will add to its journey, its history.

last night i had a dream.  it was, as dreams are, fraught with inconsistencies and unlikelinesses, but i remember one thing about it in particular.  in my dream, david handed me a check he had received from someone.  someone, presumably the person who wrote the check, had scratched out the address and, all along the top of the check, had written in a different address:  my growing-up-on-long-island address.  i was delightedly startled and pressed david to tell me about the person who clearly now lived in this cherished house, but, in the way that dreams make both little sense and all the sense in the world, he was unable to give me any more information.  what i know is that it left me with a reassurance of the feeling from that house.  it was a reminder of a time gone by, a time woven deeply into who i am and, for that house, the fabric of about two decades of our family.

houses remember.  and you can feel it.  the moment i walked into our house i knew.  this was the place i wanted to live; this was the place i wanted to have the next part of my life.  this house had all good things to offer; i wanted to sustain its story.   i suspect it would have been easier to have purchased a brand new home way back then, something pristine and customized to our needs.  something that had a sparkling new kitchen or an attached garage, central air conditioning or an open floor plan.

but this house said, “wait.  don’t go.  give me a chance.  i can offer you a lifetime of sturdy foundation.  i can tell you i have been there in the light and in the dark times.  i can be a safe place for you.  i can hold you and celebrate you and listen to the laughter of your children.  you can walk on my old wood floors and keep food in my old pantry.  you can have dogs and cats and they can run circles through my rooms and children can push or ride plastic wheeled toys round and round hall-kitchen-dining room-living room.  you can use my rooms as you need.  a nursery with a singing-to-sleep-rocking-chair can later be a studio with a big piano; i can rejoice in listening.  you can sit in my south-facing living room and delight in the sun streaming in the windows.  i know it will need a little tuck-pointing down the road, but you can burn all the torn-off-the-packages-christmas-wrappings in the old fireplace. you can paint and redecorate and remodel as you wish for it won’t change how i feel.  i can be your house.  and i, even someday when you have moved on to somewhere else, will always remember you.”

we really need to go get that old screen door and add it to the story of our house.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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doorknobs and doors. [two artists tuesday]

doorknobs

it doesn’t matter that they aren’t now attached to doors.  a display of doorknobs, all lined up at an antique shoppe, beg you to wonder what doors they opened.  what old house was it that had all its doorknobs changed?  are the doors still there?  these knobs removed; knobs that likely welcomed sticky toddler fingers, trembling arthritic hands, dutifully, solidly a part of history.  what new hardware has replaced these knobs that had countless hands turning, opening, passing through?

the joy of having an old house is just that – the history of what has gone before you.  how many times was this closet door opened?  how many people passed through the front door?  how many times did someone come home and walk in, close the back door and sigh?

we cannot think of doorknobs without thinking of doors.  we have 22 doors in our old house, a few less than when we bought it, and not counting cabinetry.  we have extra doors in the basement.  beautiful solid six panel doors, some sporting their knobs, some knob-naked.

i think about the rooms of this home that they all have led to, these doors, the conversations that took place in those rooms.  the babies, the plans, the family elders.  the hugs and cherished moments, the arguments, the worry, the celebrations, each room a time capsule of lives lived in this very place.  doors in, doors out.  how much did a hand hesitate to open or close the door?

the metaphor is obvious – doorknobs and doors.  the old and wise adage – “when one door closes, another opens.”  the words sometimes seem like hollow reassurance.  and i look up the adage and realize that there is more to this and is quoted by alexander graham bell, “when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

the patina of the knobs shows wear.  hands, hands, grasping and turning, opening.  each door an invitation to the next moment, whatever that moment might be.  choosing a door, choosing to walk in.  standing.  waiting.  hesitating.  we often wonder about the doors.  maybe paralyzed with indecision, with grief, with confusion, we often pine after a door.  we are often blind.

those doorknobs.  if only they could speak.  the stories they could tell, the lessons we could learn.

read DAVID’S THOUGHTS this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the organ bench. [k.s. friday]

organ pipes

no one else.  there was literally no one else i knew who took organ lessons.  eight years old and i was the only one.  everyone else i knew took piano lessons.  they went to the new local music store –munro music on larkfield road in east northport – and had lessons in itty studios downstairs and came back upstairs to pick out sheet music from a big wall featuring the latest hits and books of collected artists, written out for various levels of piano-playing ability.  me?  i went to mr. i-never-knew-if-he-even-had-a-first-name sexton’s house (now, think about the torture my peers had with that name) and took organ lessons in the addition adjacent to the garage.  there was no wall of sheet music, were no cool guitars hanging up begging to be purchased, no amplifiers or drums.  just that one organ.  no windy or ode to billie joe or i’m a believer easy piano for me.  it was beautiful dreamer and long, long ago.  and hymns.  lots of hymns.  but i had been asking for lessons since i was five and the little chord organ that was my grandmother’s was moved aside and a ‘real’ organ with two manuals (keyboards) and real pedals and cha-cha button settings was added to the corner of the dining room that was next to the kitchen and the living room.

when i was ten i tearfully played the pipe organ for my brother’s wedding, the processional as my sweet sister-in-law walked down the aisle to my big brother.  yesterday i was talking to john whelan, a master celtic accordionist the exact same age as me, and we talked about the first real gig we did.  his was at 12 and he actually got paid.  mine was this wedding and, for obvious reasons, payment was out of the question.  i got to wear a really pretty peach-colored party dress and white shoulder stole and wept my way through the difficult piece.

after some time, i somehow convinced my parents that they needed both an organ and a piano and they signed me up for piano lessons.  joan ostrander, the very chic music teacher, was my first piano teacher and i adored her.  she pushed me and i adored that too.  i spent long hours practicing on the piano bench with my dog missi sleeping underneath, my dad whistling in the background.

in years to come i studied with the teacher-of-all-teachers alan walker and was convinced that the piano and i were kindred.  i taught more piano lessons on long island (and later florida and even wisconsin) than i can remember, back then driving from one house to another, delighting in each student’s joy playing the piano and progress no matter the pace, hoping to emulate the teaching style of this amazingly kind man.  after lessons we talked life and ham radio and ate open-faced crunchy peanut butter sandwiches.  music is not just about music, you know.

during my undergrad, i studied piano in college with one of the professors but kept bringing in pieces of original music and kept veering off course from assigned large scale pieces, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

as no real surprise, i majored in music composition, the first (?) step toward living as an artist, the first step in a road that leads to here and now.  so much in-between.  the gigging composer music timeline is filled with albums, concerts, performances, cd sales, radio and tv, qvc appearances, barnes & noble and borders, listening wall placement, phone calls, yamaha, traveling, shipping and more shipping, recording labels, carrying boxes, standing in the rain on flatbed trucks playing and singing, driving, driving, driving, press releases, graphic design, writing, recording, supportive family and friends and coworkers and a person named hope hughes.

but that organ.  it has kept on re-appearing.  somehow it is one of the threads that has woven its way through my life.  there aren’t that many of us out here:  people who play the organ, who can finesse a chosen timbre through the pipes and who can actually play lines of bass notes on the pedals.  those lessons from the very beginning somehow set the stage for me to work for three decades already as a minister of music.  conducting choirs and handbells and ukulele bands and worship bands, choosing music for services and performing groups, leading and shaping worship and, yep, playing the organ…it has been a constant.  there are days that i will pull out all the stops and play as loud as the organ pipes will allow.  its bellowing echoes through the sanctuary and i giggle as i think of my ten year old self, sitting on an organ bench in williston park on long island and crying.

what would i have thought if i had known that fifty years later i would still be sitting on an organ bench?

canyon love

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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out there. [k.s. friday]

moab.k. out there.

out there

ks website header

kerri sherwood on iTUNES

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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out there ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood


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what’s important. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

butttobutt

in the last few days, both of us have heard the deeply sad news that someone in our lives – each a unique voice of great wisdom – has passed.  it’s bracing.  we are here and then we are not.

in all the difficult moments we have had these past months, both on-island and off-island, these past few days once again remind us of what is actually important.

it’s not the work challenges or politics. it’s not the worry over details and relationship snags. it’s not competition or one-upping someone else, nor is it about power-struggles and issues of control.  it’s not about being undervalued or serving those who do not appreciate you, nor is it about the tippy-top of the ladder where lower rungs are no longer visible to you.  it’s not what you don’t have or what you wish you had.

instead, it’s what you do have.

it’s the simplest of moments.  when you look over and dogdog and babycat are butt-to-butt snuggling. or you are sitting next to your beloved, writing or reading together.  or your grown children call to chat a bit, out of the blue.  you spend time together.  you do good work and stand in it.  or you take a walk, in fresh air, under a sunlit sky or in a night full of stars.  you savor a hot cup of coffee or raise a glass of wine in a toast with friends. you embrace or hold hands with someone you love.  the simplest.

with gratitude to a man, alan walker, who encouraged me to love both the piano and open-faced peanut butter sandwiches.  and my thanks to a man i never met, quinn, who, in innumerable conversations in his study, brought many moments of wisdom and perspective to david.  you both remain reminders of what is really important.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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tear down, build up. [merely-a-thought monday]

nature of life box

the seasons pass.  we lurch from lush to barren.  we see the fire season lengthening, the arctic ice shelf shrinking, the oceans warming, the atmosphere more potentially lethal.  we see the lack of a bipartisan country, divisiveness poisoning our communities, self-serving rule over a democracy based on equity and compassion.  we are stymied by what we can do, what we can accomplish as individuals and we speak up, at the ready to be buoyed by support or torn down by scorn.  we have traversed the spectrum of built up and trampled.

i hope this season will pass.  that the tearing down will yield a new harvest.  that we will pay attention to our good earth and its physical struggles.  that we will cross the aisle and reach out.  that each of us will count, no matter our ANYthing.  that sensitivity and humanity and fairness will lead our actions.  that we will be kind.  that we will build up.  that this now barren-in-so-many-ways-land will again be lush.  with promise.  for everyone.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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