April 9, 2020
Quiet out on the coast highway
Last night was the first day of Passover. This year many seder services normally held at home were conducted via internet. For the grandchildren…and us adults…its quite a moment to learn about the ten plagues while in the midst of one! Of course, the most significant teaching from Passover is the transition from slavery to freedom. Seldom talked about though, are the slaves who stayed in Egypt, fearful of joining those leaving into the unknown. Yes they were slaves, but at least it seemed like a secure “job”. I think we have more than a few like this today. CovidWorld is creating new choices to be free.
A month ago pandemic awareness really began to ramp up in the USA among the general population. In the last three weeks sixteen million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits. The economy is contracting dramatically. Meanwhile, essential services like medical care, food, medications and transportation continue to operate, with accommodations.
Unemployment numbers aside, two other events mark this point in the pandemic as it unfolds: Bernie Sanders dropped out presidential contention and John Prine died of complications from Covid.
John Prine (1947 – 2020)
John Prine has been described as the Mark Twain of American singer/songwriters. I agree. Blue collar, rooted in Kentucky and suburban Chicago, army veteran and mailman, his songs cut right through any layers of social strata to speak to deeper truths within us all. We saw him perform a couple times with Bonnie Raitt.
I’ve listened to his last album, “Tree of Forgiveness” regularly over the last couple years, but yesterday I listened with “new ears” knowing he’s just died. WOW. Every song delivered a fresh punch. Some were downright prophetic. Perhaps he set us up, putting out songs that would play like messages from the other side once he crossed over. (“When I Get to Heaven”, “God Only Knows”, and “Summer’s End” with its plaintive refrain, “…just come on home.”)
The album title is from the song When I Get to Heaven in which Prine describes getting back into show business once he reaches heaven, and opening a club called, “The Tree of Forgiveness”. He invites a “few choice critics, those syphilitic parasitics”, and offers them a beer. Yes, he could turn a phrase. I think he’s hit upon the thing that the world is silently crying out for; the thing we need to gain higher consciousness, the thing that squeezes the heart and sticks in the throat: forgiveness. We need a big “truth & reconciliation” process, followed by forgiveness. RIP John Prine. Please open that club…and send some invitations our way. Amen.