When we returned from our trip, I was excited to learn my first book of poetry has been published by Negative Capability Press. “A Sunset Without Dawn” is an exploration of grief for the loss of our daughter and other selected poems.
The book is available on Amazon. If you would like a copy, I can offer a “blog” discount. Just email me about your interest and I will get in touch with you.
On our trip to Eastern Europe, we made new friends with a couple from California. He is deeply involved in Habitat for Humanity. He is also a Vietnam veteran. One of the trips he took for Habitat was a return to Vietnam. He had a good experience and one incident he shared greatly interested me.
During his time one young guide ask to speak to him in private. He wanted to know what our friend was thinking about his return to Vietnam. Our friend said something like “it is time to move on.” The guide reported his father had been a Viet Cong fighter. The guide was pleased to report that was exactly how his father felt.
Not everyone can return to Vietnam for many reasons. The scars are very deep. The pain is too great. The experience of returning would not be cathartic as it was for our friend.
In the Eastern European countries on our trip, many wars have been fought leaving deep scars often lasting for generations. The war in Ukraine is not helping scars to heal. The ability to move beyond past conflicts is a rare event. I was happy for our friend.
The lesson to me is to be careful about the battles I fight, whether they be personal, political, regional or national. Overcoming scars is hard.
George Plimpton was a well know writer. I knew him best for “participatory journalism.”
He pitched in an exhibition game with major league players. The result was his book “Out of My League.”
He played football in an exhibition game for the Detroit Lions. The result was his book and film “Paper Lion.”
He played golf against Arnold Palmer. The result was his book “Bogey Man’.”
He played hockey. His book was “Open Net.”
He sparred with Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson. The results were Sports Illustrated articles.
His participation was not restricted to sports as he tried a variety of things; a comedy act in Vegas, a high wire act in the circus, high level competition in Bridge and played percussion in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for Leonard Bernstein.
Of all his activities, he reported playing in the Philharmonic to be his most anxiety provoking. To hit the correct note at the correct time with Leonard Bernstein directing was frightening. This week I could identify with his experience.
My friend Nedra Bloom is leading a group in reading “The Nine Taylors.” The Nine Taylors are church bells in an English church. The book is one of a series of mystery novels written by the acclaimed writer Dorothy Sayers, a friend and colleague of C. S Lewis. The book is definitely good literature and not a “quick read” novel such as I am accustomed to reading.
Our pastor is on sabbatical and Nedra gave the sermon last Sunday. Nedra severely tested our friendship by suggesting the reading group ring “bells” at Sunday service. She wanted to make a joyful noise to the Lord and got the brilliant idea our group should play handbells as a part of the service.
She is a much more forgiving director than Bernstein. Also, she is a very nice person. Therefore, I agreed to participate. However, with my total lack of rhythm and my extremely challenged musical IQ, I understood Plimpton’s fear. However, I managed to get through it and have fun.
Clearly, I am neither skilled nor knowledgeable about music. Despite my limitations, one of the big treats on our trip to Europe involved The Royal Czech Orchestra. Some members of the string section of the orchestra in conjunction with an organist and soprano held a concert in a church in Prague. We were seated on the first row.
I may not be knowledgeable about music but I can recognize and appreciate talent. When the lead violinist stepped to the front and closed her eyes, her fingers flew in ways I can only imagine. She was amazing.
Even with my limited understanding I knew I was in the presence of special talents. To be that close to a performance by so talented a group of musicians was one of the highlights of our trip. It was a most memorable evening.