Awake, truly awake and well rested after a weekend that was filled with laughter and joy, music, friends, dancing, singing, healthy eating and a power nap at the end of a long, sun streaming down day. On Friday night, so began one of my favorite events of the summer. The XPoNential Music Fest is the creation of WXPN; a member supported radio station out of the University of Pennsylvania. It calls together top notch talent from all over the world and creates a family friendly environment, at a riverfront setting in Camden, NJ. The weather could not have been more perfect. Two years ago, there was what I call ‘the monsoon,’ complete with torrential rain that blew sideways on the wings of swirling winds and had a friend and me hunkering down under an overpass while the flood waters rose. Bright sunshine with blessed cloud cover at times and cool breezes off the river made it a lovely experience. The group that particularly drew me there and kept me there late into the night is Dawes. Music that seems inspired by Jackson Browne and Dire Straits was sing-along and dance-along-able. By the time I tumbled into bed, it was 2 a.m.
I needed to arise only a short few hours later to attend the memorial service for a dear friend and teacher, Hannelore Goodwin who had passed a bit more than six weeks earlier. Hard to imagine that this tiny but mighty woman is no longer in body. I know that she is still doing her work from wherever she is now. A Reiki master, minister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and mentor to many, Hannelore left a loving legacy that we will all carry into our interactions with those who cross our paths. Although there were tears, there was also a deep feeling of rejoicing that she had touched our lives in such away that we were mourning the loss of her physical presence.
The transition back to Wiggins Park where once again I was immersed in musical magic was smooth and soul nourishing after the experience. It gave me time to ponder this question: What is the difference between a memorial service/funeral that occurs immediately following the death and one that occurs more than a month later? The first feels like first aid, that binds the heart wounds and the second more like maintenance since time has passed that allows us the reality to sink in. It gives us a chance to live without the person. Regardless of the passage of time, what is common to all such gatherings is the need for human contact and hugs. A sense of ‘I know that you know,’ and an honoring of our connection through the one who has passed. I carried them with me as I left the church that was filled with those who love her.
When I walked onto the field again after the 90 minute drive and placed my blanket down, I was acutely aware of the human experience of loss and wondered how many other people there contemplate these things in the midst of revelry. Do we so enjoy the experience of music as a means of coping with the many losses we face or is it just fun for its own sake? Do we gather together with our tribe so we don’t feel alone? I am immensely grateful for mine with whom I feel a sense of Homecoming. What amazes but never surprises me is that amongst thousands of people, those I know ‘randomly’ find me. One was a woman who I met on an airplane and spoke for almost the entire flight in May when heading to San Fran to officiate at my niece’s wedding, who serendipitously sat down next to me on a grassy hill.
On Sunday, another cosmically coincidental experience happened when someone I know from a spiritual community in Delaware where I speak a few times a year happened to be standing next to a long time friend of mine while singing along to the sounds of Indigo Girls. Said friend had come there to hear them specifically, but had arrived a bit earlier and had left her phone at home and as a result, couldn’t text me. We both kept putting out signals; a sort of psychic GPS. I had walked over to one of the stages and felt guided to perch on a hill. From that vantage point, I almost immediately spotted my friend dancing to the sonic shakin’ music of Kopecky who do a spot-on cover of Fleetwood Mac’s song Tusk. Kindred spirits always find each other.
The weekend climaxed with The Wailers — minus Bob Marley obviously, although I could feel his presence. One Love, indeed is what we shared as the sun set magnificently, with wispy paint brush splashes of color.
I cherish these people who make my life such a celebration. I invite you to lift your glass with me to those we treasure.