I Will Go…

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I’ve had the great pleasure these past few days of enjoying the splendid music by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. How I overlooked these guys is beyond me. Come most Januarys, when the hills in Pacifica are at their greenest, I begin listening to my favorite Irish songs. Leading up to March 17, most days are sprinkled with various renditions of “Only Our Rivers are Free”, “The Town I Loved So Well”, “Danny Boy”, of course, and many other musical nuggets I’ve extracted and cherished over the years.

This year, I’ve been listening to songs of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. What led me here was a cover of “Red is the Rose” by Anthony Kearns (one of the Irish Tenors) that serendipitously appeared on my Pandora autoplay. I youtubed it and found a stirring cover by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem which, of course, led me to other songs. My new favorite song is “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?” sung sweetly by Tommy and the brothers.

The tune and the tempo remind me of that lovely, traditional Scottish melody “Loch Lomond”, a song me and my river mates would sing while making our way back to my cabin which sits on the bonnie braes of the Russian River in Guerneville, CA; we could take the high road off Leasowe Lane (up to Drake Road) or stay on the low gravelled road to the cabin. Maybe it’s that tune that stirs this deep feeling in me.

However, it’s the song’s sweet, innocent lyrics that capture this old, romantic’s soul especially as it’s sung to the hauntingly, beautiful air:

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Now, granted, I’m a tad old to be pining for a laddie to lure me to the mountains; yet, the lyrics remind me of another old, older love song. One that can be translated into a spiritual hope, a future journey. In Song of Solomon, the Shulamite woman tells us:

“My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along. For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come away!”      – Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Will this lassie go? I will go, someday. Someday, He will call me home…where maybe there’ll be blooming heather growing near the wild mountain thyme. Who knows what eternity will be like? Solomon said, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts…”. We are made for eternity, and I believe eternity will be beautiful too. Music like this song is eternal.

That is our hope in Jesus Christ. He said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” He is the Resurrection and the Life. This Lenten season, this St. Patrick’s Day, let us remember who calls us beloved, who calls us to come and follow Him, and who went to prepare a bower (place) for us.

In this life, we only skip along the outskirts of eternity.  I hope we don’t get distracted by all the things of this world, the things that will pass away. Songs like “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?” remind us how powerful music is and how some songs transcend time. They skirt the mountains of eternity and call us to come. Will ye go, Lassie, Laddie, will ye go?

    “Come away, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the mountain of spices.” 

Song of Solomon 8:14

 

 

Kinda Irish

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I’m kinda Irish. Actually, I’m half Irish, but it’s old Irish blood that runs through my veins, and I’d like to think there’s still a “lilt of Irish laughter” in me. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone feels kinda Irish. It’s a happy day that celebrates the beauty of an old culture. Of course, we all know that St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish, but he has become the patron saint of the Emerald Isle for his missionary work nearly two millennia ago. Everyone wants to be an Irishman on St. Paddy’s Day. Well, there are some Irish folks that I want to be like.

Every summer, my family went to the Russian River like a lot of San Francisco families did. One of those families was the Murphy’s. I knew Tom Murphy. He always drove by the pier in his totally cool green boat and would wave. I liked how it matched his red hair. Tom was a nice guy, a good guy, solid. I met his sister in my sophomore year at Mercy, she was a year behind me. Ann Marie – I can still remember clearly – was always laughing, smiling and telling jokes. You couldn’t be in her presence long without cracking a smile and heaving a laugh. I didn’t know then that an illness ran in the family, a devastating illness to which both Tom and Ann Marie would succumb. Surely, a mother’s hell.

Some years ago, I was reading the Irish Comics — the obituaries — and came across Mrs. Murphy’s obituary. The obituary writer summed up the character of this amazing woman.  She was “a woman of faith, patience, endurance and grace, she faced head on the heavy onslaughts that nature threw against her and she stood up with courage and hope and without complaint.” What a eulogy, what a legacy! In the midst of my own troubles, none worthy to compare to her sorrows, I was encouraged, if she could endure “with courage and hope” all that she lived through, so could I. I was strengthened to go on “without complaint”. I am still working on that one. She exemplifies the kinda Irish I want to be like, and the kinda Christian I’d like to become.

I know some other Irish folks — the kinda Irish I want to look like. I first met the Carlins when I was a wee lassie, probably up at the River as well. I envied their twinkling blue eyes, beautiful wavy auburn hair and chronic joy. According to Mrs. Carlin, Mr. Carlin was a “hundred-percenter,” meaning both parents were all Irish. He reminded me of James Cagney – not “Public Enemy” Cagney or “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” Cagney — but the charming “Yankee Doodle Dandy” Cagney. Decades ago, I spent a couple days with this family, one of my first outings alone. “American Pie” played non-stop on the radio Helen kept on all night. I took that habit home, much to the consternation of my sister. Helen and her sister walked me all around from West Portal to Stonestown.

Often when I take the kids on a drive through the City, I drive by St. Cecilia’s. I tell them that’s where their grandfather went to school. I drive pass the Carlin’s house, but can never remember which one was theirs. I hoped to see one of them in front yard. No such Irish luck — well, not until a Sunday in 2013.

My daughter had a CYO game at St. Cecilia’s. She had gone ahead with a friend, and her sister and I were meeting her there. Impatient to get to the game on time and not wanting to get stuck turning left at Sloat, I drove straight and took West Portal to Vicente and happened to drive on the Carlin’s block. As I passed, I saw a figure stooped over the little garden in the front yard. It was Mr. Carlin. Yay!

“I’m gonna drop you off, I’ve got to visit someone.” I said to my older daughter and dumped her at the St. Cecilia’s parking lot, “I’ll be right back.” I was so excited to see Mr. Carlin. By the time I got there, he was no longer in the front yard, but the garage door was still open. I illegally parked across the street and skipped over to his open door. “Hello…, Mr. Carlin,” as I knocked on the door frame. He got up and was happy to visit. I wasn’t sure if he remembered me, but he remembered my father. I told him I had always wanted to stop by and say hello, but forgot which house was his. He said I was always welcome, told me the number and to come by again. After our little chat, I told him I beat him and had ten kids…then he remembered, “Yes, your dad told me about that.” His beautiful blue eyes still sparkled as he smiled. I hopped back in the car, very happy and went to the game.

No big deal, huh? That little visit blessed me so much. I had hoped for so long to say hello to this old family friend, and I got the opportunity. I’m sure he was as blessed as I was. Everyday we have opportunities to say hello to someone or smile at someone, even if it’s the Burger King guy who is just trying to get the order right. Those little things are blessings that we can be a part of. It doesn’t take much, folks, to lighten another’s load or warm another’s heart. “You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while.”

So this St. Patrick’s Day, I am gonna roast me a leg o’ lamb — I don’t do corned beef and cabbage — listen to some Christy Moore and Ronan Tynan, and top it off by watching “The Quiet Man”. I will also remember the kinda Irish I admire, Mrs. Murphy and her strength of character and Mr. Carlin and his smiling Irish eyes. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, folks!!