Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Middle Life Reflections

Over the course of the past several years, I often find myself reflecting on this journey in life thus far. 

How did I get here, to this place, and where am I headed?  What will the road ahead look like?  And when the end comes, how will I feel about where I have been, and what little I might have accomplished?  These are the things that I think about, on occasion, when the softer and calm moments of life present themselves.

These times of introspection seem to come at the oddest turns, but usually in a more quiet place; alone in the car, walking the dog, or sitting on our back porch on a quiet Sunday afternoon reviewing the events of another busy week.

Last week, I was completely surprised by a moment such as this.  We took some friends to Disney Hall to see the LA Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.  As an introductory piece, "The Promise of Living" by Aaron Copeland was played. 

Ever since I was just out of college I have loved the music of Copeland - which treats the history of our nation with such respect and tenderness.  For some reason, Copeland's music has always had a profound emotional impact upon me.  And so it was last Thursday, as I listened to the music of Copeland in a hushed Disney Hall.  It was if I had been lifted out of myself, for a few brief moments.  Transcendence.

As I sat in the dark, listening and reflecting on the events of the past several weeks, I was completely struck that my life is overwhelmed with blessing, and interwoven with remarkable people.  I also thought back to the events of the past several weeks. 

Time spent with friends, old and new, over coffee and lunches and dinners.  The blessing of brilliant team members at work, and, as part of that, being content in my soul with this recession and its impact on our work.  I reflected on the beauty and joy of my wife and daughters; how they daily amaze me. 

I thought of a good conversation with my daughter in the car - a chat about troubled people, and how we might respond to them in a caring way.  I remembered good friends, who are facing the lingering decline of a family member from an incurable disease, and the deep sadness that brings.  I recalled participating in a charity dinner for children with Down Syndrome, and then of our time at another fundraiser, supporting the amazing work of Young Life in our area. I was overwhelmed. 

For the past week, I have wanted to find a good video of the Copeland piece to share with you.  As it turns out, the best video I could find revealed to me that this music was, in fact, originally composed with words!  And the words.  Look below.  They fit perfectly.  For us all.

The promise of living
With hope and thanksgiving
Is born of our loving
Our friends and our labor.

The promise of growing
With faith and with knowing
Is born of our sharing
Our love with our neighbor.

The promise of loving
The promise of growing
Is born of our singing
In joy and thanksgiving.

For many a year I’ve know these fields
And know all the work that makes them yield.
Are you ready to lend a hand?
We’re ready to work, we’re ready to lend a hand.

By working together we’ll bring in the harvest,
the blessings of harvest.

We plow plant each row with seeds of grain,
And Providence sends us the sun and the rain.
By lending a arm
Bring out the blessings of harvest.
Give thanks there was sunshine,
Give thanks there was rain,
Give thanks we have hands
To deliver the grain.

O let us be joyful,
O let us be grateful to the Lord
For his blessing.

The promise of living
The promise of growing
The promise of ending
Is labor and sharing and loving.

Technology Can Be Beautiful

This video of the effect of the volcano in Iceland on air traffic is amazing. Wait until the end, to see the effect of London coming back online. And remember, each of those little dots of light represents a hundred or more people flying through the air in a steel tube. I love it!

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