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Life Arts    H4'ed 3/24/21

We must be more than prophets, Part 2: Ed McCurdy's vision -- a prose poem

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Last night I had the strangest dream.
It wasn't the strangest dream I ever dreamed before
But it was strange for me:
I was in a large room with three friends
On the second floor of an old building
Facing main street.
I and my friends were using it as an ad hoc gym.
The four of us comprised a cadre.
We were all masters of a martial art
And this was where we met regularly
To practice together.
We were activists, championing certain causes,
Not by fighting but by showing up
At different demonstrations
To contribute moral support
And to demonstrate self-mastery.
We were waiting for another group of four to show up
Who were also a team of martial artists
Who were interested in joining us
To expand our group to 8.
They show up and each one demonstrates
A different mastery.
One of them is able to walk up a wall.
In the second part of the dream
Our group is showing up at a packed arena
To meet up with the new group
To join them in the bleachers.
They are saving seats for us.
There they are! We wave.
They wave back as we approach.
This dream is strange for me because
I have never set foot in an arena.
But when I recorded this dream this morning
I recalled the folk song, "Last night I had the strangest dream".
In that song there is a "mighty room all filled with men".
A mighty room!
As a shamanic practitioner, it means something to me,
That the room itself is mighty.
"Mighty" denotes strength, extraordinary ability, power.
All attributes that we don't normally associate with a room.
But in the shamanic universe there are many such places of power
That the shaman or healer or medicine person
Might seek out to facilitate deep work or healing ritual.
Here are the words of the song by Ed McCurdy:
"Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever dreamed before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
I dreamed I saw a mighty room,
The room was filled with men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again.
And when the papers all were signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful prayers were prayed.
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing round and round
And guns and swords and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground . . ."
Whenever I used to sing that song
I always felt two emotions: sadness and power.
I'm going to say grief and power.
Isn't that in itself a little strange?
Sadness was what I felt while I was singing it,
But grief was the underlying emotion
That I could not allow to well up
Or I would not have been able to finish the song.
But grief, if one allows oneself to feel it,
Clears the air, clears the space,
For what?
I feel that that is what this song does.
It carves out a space for large emotions.
Cleansing and empowering emotions.
But, I'm not the only one who feels sad
when singing this song.
"Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream"
Was also an emotional song for (Kingston Trio's) John Stewart
And Nick Reynolds. Apparently they also could barely sing it
without crying. . .(wikipedia)
Maybe it's a prayer.
I think it is a dream of a moment
Of great cleansing and healing,
A vision of something that could happen
When the space and time is right or ripe.
Maybe it's a song of power.
In November 1989,
As Tom Brokaw stood on top of the Berlin Wall,
He directed his NBC-TV cameras towards the school children
On the East German side of the Berlin Wall,
To show the children singing
"Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream"
En masse as the wall was being dismantled. (wikipedia)
This song has been recorded in seventy-six languages
Including covers by The Weavers in 1960,
The Chad Mitchell Trio in 1962,
Simon and Garfunkel in 1964,
Cornelis Vreeswijk in 1964 (in Swedish).
Hannes Wader in 1979 (in German),
Johnny Cash in 2003, Garth Brooks in 2005,
Serena Ryder in 2006, and Charles Lloyd in 2016.
James McCurdy wrote it in the Spring of 1950.
1950 was the year the Korean War started.
5,000,000 died in that war. (40,000 Americans)
More than half of these civilians.
1950 was just 5 years after WW2 ended,
5 years after the Bomb was dropped
On Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
McCurdy wrote it during the McCarthy Era
When the Red Scare and the Cold War
Were gaining steam.
Ed McCurdy died March 23, 2000.
That is 21 years ago today.
In a sermon preached
At Church of the Good Shepherd, Federal Way, WA,
Rev. Josh Hosler identifies Ed McCurdy's anti-war ballad
As a lullaby!
"Great lullabies (he tells us) keep entire peoples focused..
My mother also used to sing'Follow the drinking gourd'
For though we were generations removed
From the Underground Railroad
And our white bodies never would have had need of it,
Still, parents must call their children
Outside themselves into a world deeper
Than their cozy little suburban house.
(He is clearly speaking as a White Man here,
But his message is pretty universal.)
The ground needs tilling if justice is to be planted in human soil.
The prophets knew this (he continues).
They passed down their oracles from parent to child,
from teacher to student.
They were mindful of the 'days to come', . . .
(What days are coming?)
When are they coming? Shhh, my child.
Learn the song. Isaiah sings poetry into our souls
Songs of ascent to the highest of hills,
With people from all the world streaming up to it."
There is a power-spot -- the mountain top.
Another power spot is "down by the riverside"
Where we will lay our burden down.
Was McCurdy a prophet?
Lullabies lull.
I think it has lullaby in it.
If "Last night". . .is a lullaby
That might account for the grief it evokes,
The sadness of not having my mother
To sing me to sleep.
These days have been long!
These wars have been long!
Iraq, 18 years and counting.
Vietnam, 19 years.
So, when McCurdy, the prophet (let's call him a prophet
On his anniversary), said that he dreamed of a mighty room
Filled with men signing a paper
That said they would never fight again. . .
That's something that hasn't happened.
But I believe that it is going to happen
In the days to come. Can you believe that?
That's McCurdy's vision, his gift to us
Is this bridge over troubled water.
"All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine". (Simon and Garfunkel)
Soon people in the streets will be dancing
Round and round, while guns and swords and uniforms
Lie scattered on the ground.
But McCurdy wrote that song in 1950.
He died in 2000. Now it is 2021.
Over one hundred thousand Americans
Have died in wars
Since he wrote his song.
He wrote that song for the coming days!
What days? When are they coming?
Shhh my child. Learn the song.
Dr. Tom Moorcraft (of Origins of health. com) says,
That he lives the way his father taught him,
As if there is no plan B.
What we are working for is going to happen,
But we are the ones who are going to make it happen.
No plan B.
How are we going to do that?
Or another way of putting this is,
In the days to come, when there is no war
And people have stopped fighting
People will ask, How did we get here?
How did this golden day dawn?
And the answer will be,
It started with a song.

..........

.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc5hxqNdqKo


(Article changed on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:12 PM EDT)

(Article changed on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:33 PM EDT)

 

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)
 

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