A disclaimer: The following is nothing more (or less) than my unadorned confession of a few powerful streams of subconsciousness occasioned by my recent travels and observations. Although it may not make unmitigated sense to the reader, I write anyway. I pound the motherboard with as much clarity as I can because this sentence string and these feeling sequences apparently have been travelling beneath my conscious awareness; at last, they have rapped on the door of my sleep, waking me in mid-slumber in the small hours of New Year’s Eve, 2011, demanding cognitive recognition. Perhaps I also write because this tiny discipline may offer a small glimpse into the incomplete, but hopeful ruminations of my soul as I have journeyed through the recent holidays in America and as I look, with a mixture of trepidation and optimism, toward the approaching year. First, some background:
Three-days before Thanksgiving, we were in the Chicago O’Hare Airport, waiting for our Southwest Airlines flight. Financial considerations dictated that our air-hop from Nashville, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi should be routed through the Windy City. While awaiting our flight, Janice grabbed a crusty, fried serving of “fast food” in the Food Court and I waited for my allotment of nourishment at Harry Caray’s airport eatery. With a touch of family pride, my own Riley daughter and I sat next to the Reilly’s Daughter pub, conversing, with food in our mouths, over the airport noisy-ness. And, then, ….
Late one night just after Christmas, we had returned from our glorious Christmas family celebrations with our children in Austin, Texas and were flipping channels. Watching television in the Trinity Baptist Church of San Antonio, Texas guest residence was an unexpected luxury, largely unavailable in Athens, Greece. By a fortunate accident, we came upon the broadcast of the most recent Kennedy Center Awards. The crooner & pop star, Neil Diamond was among the honorees. We had presupposed that our interest would be peaked by the award given to the superb actress, Meryl Streep, but it turned out that Diamond may have made the most lasting impact. Finally, ….
On the eve of New Year’s Eve, with Jerry and Rita, we travelled to Fredericksburg, Texas for a performance at the Rock Box Theatre. The very professionally done rock & roll tribute featured, among many others, an additional recognition of Diamond’s musical talents. So now, the recurring melody of Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” keeps showing up on the back-lots of my mind. That chorus about “Hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you!” sings its way through the open spaces of my cerebral cavity and runs laps on the treadmill of my feeble (and out of shape) mind.
In Harry Caray’s Chicago pub, there is an homage to the baseball announcer’s legendary practice of leading Chicago baseball fans in a stirring rendition of “Take me out to the ball game!” in the “seventh-inning stretch” of every home game for many years. While waiting for my lunch order, between flights, I was reminded of the potent human need to rise and sing together; although we routinely do it at church, Harry led it in the middle of “America’s pastime.” And then, through the Diamond tributes, I recalled that in sports events across this American nation, fans often sing together Diamond’s signature song, celebrating the “reaching out, touching me, touching you” that seems, when you think about it, such a soul-blessed response to an equally human need.
While I return to sleep, now, the demon of my subconscious at least temporarily surfeited, for a while, I leave you with but one thought, brought courtesy of Neil and Harry and the subterranean environs of my mind. Wouldn’t it be nice if 2012 could be marked by a massive universe of humanity who, for a “seventh-inning break” from the usual rivalry and competitiveness, would put aside the differences that so easily separate us, chose to make open our greedy, angry or gesturing fists and decide to reach out to others and make personal contact! This old world of ours so desperately needs to connect and to lift our voices.
Here’s my hand! Sweet!