Summer 2

Gratitude.

For life. For love. For everything. Yes, everything.

I learned about three years ago, through Jeffrey Duvall, a beautiful, soulful, kind and generous spiritual guide and very dear friend I’ve known since 2008, of the immutable connection between grief and gratitude. And, how receiving all the sorrowful experiences of our lives helps us to move forward and grow.

Duvall’s book (written with another dear man, James Churches), Stories of Men, Meaning, and Prayer: The Reconciliation of Heart and Soul in Modern Manhood is for me an abiding and heart-provoking extension of our friendship and, since we live so far away from each other, it holds a place among a small pile of books on my bedside table.

Now, the “grief and gratitude” thing may sound weird to some, but if you have read the book The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller (which Jeffrey introduced to me, and I introduced to you in my post on Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U“), you’ll understand what I mean. If you haven’t read it and have encountered deep grief, I can’t recommend it enough. (If you’re curious, I’m including a clip of the author speaking at a gathering some years ago. It’s remarkable.)

Today was one of those days when I dreamed or experienced or felt or heard or talked about many of the emotions I’ve experienced in pivotal times of my life. It has been quite a day! And by far, the most potent feeling was (is) gratitude. 

I’m reminded, sometimes several times a day — and sometimes sharply — of the absolute fragility and preciousness of life. When I see my children, or my sweety’s children and the grandchildren, and the possibility of as-yet unborn future generations, I have such an urge to keep taking care of myself, to stay alive and hopefully share bits of wisdom I inherited from my ancestors and in my life that will feed their souls, to help ease the burden of the messed-up world we’re laying on innocent, young shoulders.

When I recently posted, on a Classical Sunday, the concerto “Summer” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, one of my brothers texted to say how much he loves that work. And as he often does in thoughtfully responding to my posts, he suggested a related piece for me to check out. He’s older than me (the bros all are), but he retired quite a bit later, and it’s a joy to see how he is savouring a well-deserved time of leisure, especially when much of what I remember of him is a man devoted to a career in an intensity, complexity and time scale that would kill many people. I’m grateful he’s where he is.

On this last official day of Summer 2020 — a time that has been an oasis in many ways during an ongoing time of challenge in the global pandemic — I’m sharing a track from clarinetist Eddie Daniel’s interpretation of The Four Seasons from his album The Five Seasons, with thanks and love to this brother for sharing it in his truly loving way.

I’ve said a few times how I’m having trouble letting go of summer. Our weather in the past few days has been changeable, though tomorrow promises to be sunny and warm, though the forecast keeps changing. How can meteorologists really keep up with a changing climate, after all? Anyway, Sweety and I hope to make it a beach day. If the forecast is wrong, I’ll still be grateful for those many slow, bright and hot summer days we’ve enjoyed.

“Summertime
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’…”

(from “Summertime,’ by George Gershwin)

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the track, “Summer 2,” Daniels’ jazzed-up version of the second movement of Vivaldi’s “Summer” concerto, from his album The Five Seasons and the Eddie Daniels topic channel on YouTube

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