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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

The times, they are a changing….

Someday, I want to write about the soundtrack of our lives. You know what I am talking about. It's the music that plays in your head in those grand, sweet moments of life. It's the pluck and strum of your heart strings in a quiet moment of beauty. It's the musical score of your world.

I have been thinking about this today as I sit in the foyer of Evergreen Hospital listening to Judy play piano. Judy is a senior who contributes to the healing of the universe by playing a grand piano at this hospital as patients and family members go about their business. Because she knows that my husband and I are folk musicians, she has jettisoned her usual set list of classical pieces for folk music arranged for piano. The grand two story alcove pulls the notes skyward as a steady parade of people pass by.

Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changing' " floats through the air, and as the lyrics swirl in my head, couples of every size, shape and color stroll past all carrying plastic, life- sized babies. The first couple who passed by signaled an appointment perhaps, a discussion of insights gained while toting a lifelike but plastic nonetheless baby. But soon this steady stream of couples and their dolls parading by make it apparent that this is an appointment of much greater design. Stretchy shirts are pulled over swollen bellies while husbands cling to lifeless dolls, all in preparation for this upcoming event.

They seem so serene, so quietly proud as they walk together, and I think to myself, “Yes, the times they ARE a-changing," in ways that these young couples cannot begin to fathom. Only we who have walked this road before can know the depth of what awaits them in the years to come. They will enter this brave new life blissfully ignorant and totally convinced that they are ready for what lies ahead.

But then, when are any of us ever ready for what lies ahead? If we could see through that dark glass dimly would we run to embrace the future or throw our hands up in despair? Would we dig into some well of courage deep within ourselves or shrink into our own insecurities and fears and never step into the challenges ahead?

Perhaps that is the beauty of the future being revealed in infinitesimally small steps, so as to protect us from our own weakness of spirit.

But through that dark glass, grand moments of beauty await us also in the small ordinariness of this life. Biking to work, I have passed a wetlands bathed in early morning light as a meadowlark warbled and my hearts' voice burst into song. " great Thou art.. how great Thou art..." A brook warbles over rocks, and a symphony plays Copeland's" Appalachian Spring, and I have realized anew that it IS a gift to be simple. A grandchild's face explodes into a smile, and in the light of that gaze, the room and my aching heart are bathed in a chorus of alleluias. The soundtrack of the foyer swells and with it, the landscape of this ever changing canvas. A voice on the intercom announces a life threatening emergency. I see a wheelchair being pushed... an elderly man shuffles passed us, nurses, doctors...a visible river of humanity.

Someone is dying here today; someone is being born; someone is recovering and someone is losing hope.

My mind races with questions, the kinds of questions one wrestles with in the autumn of our lives. The kinds of questions that draw near to you when sitting in a hospital foyer watching life literally pass you by. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Have I overlooked some work I have been put here to do?

In the swirl of questions, I look over at sweet Judy. She is mouthing the words to the folk tune her hands create as the notes circle in the air. I can read her lips as Dylan speaks to the unspoken questions of my heart. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind...

the answer

is blowing in the wind.

1968. Fort Ord, California. The start of it all…

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Mary Dessein
Mary Dessein
Jan 31, 2023

Your insights are rich, Char. Thank you.


Jan 31, 2023

Your reflections always speak to me, Dear Char, but this one more than most. Everything in it resonates with me and I'm grateful to have it to read and ruminate on first thing this morning. Thanks for your insights and wisdom. And I think you have done and are doing exactly what you were meant to do.

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