Skip to main content

While to That Rock I'm Clinging

Pete Seeger died.

I hadn't cried all day, even though I had thought about this day before it happened; dreaded it coming, because it would mean that death really did come to all of us, even those of us as good, as filled with Spirit and meaning, as willing to live out our values day by day, as the one we called "Uncle Pete."

I won't go into all his virtues. You can google that. I will say that the hagiography you see right now about Pete Seeger is far closer to the truth than most sentimental postmortems.

A Facebook friend, Karen McCarthy, posted a video --



And I broke.

I never met Pete, unlike some of my peers. But his were the first songs I heard. I still have the LP, Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes.  Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo ...

Perhaps he was my first minister. His were the songs played in my house, and my parents lifted him up as a hero. For fighting for justice. For the Hudson River. For adhering to his values during the McCarthy hearings, and then again during Vietnam, when he defiantly sang, "Knee Deep in the Big Muddy" on the Smothers Brothers show. 




It came at great cost, this living according to his values. It came at great sacrifice. Do we Unitarian Universalists have a theology of sacrifice?

I was a grown-up, a mother of 4, and still Rev. Pete provided pastoral care to me.

My youngest daughter was sick. Okay, not sick. As she said, "I'm not sick, I just have CANCER!"

There was no one carrying me. Every day, I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But I clung ... to something. Not faith in a God who would make it all okay. But I clung to community, to reality, to the knowledge that somehow, as a dear friend told me, I would make it through this. No matter what. There were people around me who loved me fiercely. And somehow, I knew, that life was still worth it. No matter what happened. No matter if I felt my heart was being ripped from me. Life was still worth it. And there were slim moments of peace, in realizing that.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
Pete Seeger was a folk singer. Some of the music was his. Some he gathered, curated, from others. I clung to that rock. Quaker hymn, Unitarian Universalist hymn, Uncle Pete brought it to me.

Ultimately, I believed that Love was lord of heaven and earth. No matter what happened, no matter disease, no matter death, no matter the Big Muddy, no matter the hate that swirls around us ... ultimately, there is a Greater Hope.

 I lay my banjo in the dirt. 

 Thank you, Peter Seeger. My "Uncle." My "Minister." My hero.

 Thank you for loving the hell out of the world.

Comments

  1. As always, so very moving are your memories. They've resurrected many, many of mine. Thank you for the journey back.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Joanna,
    Thank you for this post on Pete Seeger. He did indeed "love the hell out of the world".

    You may remember I have Luddite tendencies, I wasn't able to figure out how to post these thanks as a comment until now.

    Blessings,

    Elisabeth

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Whole Church Worship

TL;dr -- Our church does "Whole Church Worship," or "All Ages Are Together for the Whole Service, Every Service, Every Week." I've been getting a lot of questions about this. Here are some answers. Preface: For some reason, I occasionally run into people from other churches who want to explain to me all the reasons this won't work at their church. Sure. I'm not trying to talk you into this. You do you, Bub. Whole Church Worship is working at our church, at this time. Live Oak is pretty special, and I don't know that there are many things we do that would work any other place, including our Chili, Chocolate, and Karaoke Party. But that's a post for another day.  Okay, then. So, I first got involved in Whole Church Worship as a result of a fit of pique - my own. This was before I was a minister. At my home congregation, we had "Children's Chapel," and we had reached the point where we couldn't get anyone signed up to coordin

Post-Pandemic and the Expectations of Others

  We have the hope that the covid-19 pandemic's end is in sight ... and it's bringing up a lot of feelings. Not all of them happy .  Many of us are feeling some level of anticipatory anxiety.  The anxiety is rooted in a fear that almost all of us have, in some form or another. The fear that others will make us do something we don't want to do. Whether it is through what can feel like the aggression of "your job depends on this," or the polite friendliness of social obligations, we pre-emptively worry about being dominated.  Look, the pandemic made saying "No" to in-person events super easy. So easy, in fact, that we didn't even have to say no, because no invitations were forthcoming. We didn't have to send regrets, we were all living in a world where responsible people didn't get together. Heck, those of us who before might feel we were being antisocial could now feel self-righteous! A win/win!  I kid, but only a little.  We anticipate that p

"I Don't Know Who I Am Now" or The Importance of Not Assuming for a While

The next 5 months are probably going to be kinda weird. Uncertainty and anxiety flying all over the place. Duck! And then after that ... it's also going to be kinda weird, but a different kind of weird, as we move into the After Times, and figure out what exactly they're going to be like, and what exactly WE are going to be like.  It is in times like these, that I like to turn to art to help make sense of it all.  I refer, of course, to the art known as the television series Doctor Who. I mean, if we know things are going to be weird, we probably should look at some art that deals with the weird, right? Now's the time to examine Hieronymous Bosch and Marc Chagall. And Doctor Who, that time-traveling, face-shifting hero.  Part of the Doctor Who story (and why it's been able to keep going so long) is that rather than die, the Doctor regenerates, retaining who they are, but with a different face, body, and to a certain extent, a different personality.  Immediately after t