Morning has broken. Sing it, Judith.
I’ve not heard it sung quite like Judith Durham does it. You can almost see the ethereal early morning mist rising from the fields and feel the warmth of a late spring / early summer sun on your back.
There are people the world over who struggle every day with pains and grief, with hopes crushed and dreams faded. They get up and go to work. They pass you on the streets. They may be teaching your children, preaching your sermons, cutting your hair or, as was the case with Judith Durham of The Seekers fame, singing the songs that make you smile and inspire you to believe that maybe, just maybe there is cause still for hope to shine.
I’m not sure how it is I came in recent weeks to be listening to The Seekers. I recall them and their distinctive sound from my youth; but I didn’t know the female singer in the group was experiencing feelings of being lost. Later in life I didn’t know her lover and husband of 25 years died of “Motor Neuron Disease”. That’s what they call “ALS” in Australia. I didn’t know of the car accident which took the life of a young woman in the other car and almost took Judith Durham’s life as well.
I’ve been listening to interviews. I’ve watched Ms. Durham’s This Is Your Life. I’ve listened to The Seekers on YouTube over and over again for the past two months. Why? Is it because they unseated The Beatles from the Number One Spot with their In A World of Our Own? “We’ll build a world of our own that no one else can share. All our sorrows we’ll leave far behind us there.” The song blanketed the Western World like a gentle rain in the midst of hate, prejudice and war. The fight was on for civil rights; the conflict was ramping up in Viet Nam. The hippies headed for San Francisco hoping that flowers in their hair might make everything right. Where is the place I can go to to leave all my sorrows behind?
And then, suddenly, it dawns on me why I am reveling in this music. Some of the fights are different. Too many of them are the same. The Churches where our African American sisters and brothers attend are burning. Violence and social and economic uncertainty run rampant in our day. Tattoos have replaced (rather permanently) the more transient flowers in our hair; but the sentiment is the same. Maybe if I decorate my body things will be better. Judith Durham looks her age – not the young woman she used to be, but one who has been through the storm and somehow finds it within herself to keep on singing. Fifty years from now it will be another generation who treasurers their “oldies”. They will watch the videos and listen to the protest songs of their day and remember the marches and cherish the camaraderie that grows up in the midst of a people who share the same dream and have some skin in the game.
I’m not reveling in the past. I’m still dreaming of the future. I’m still on the make for a place where “all the children are safe and warm inside“. While I might fear, Judith, that we’ll never find another you, the reason I’m listening is because of the civility and the simplicity characteristic of your style. We are so much like you – one who struggled to breathe because of a childhood disease. We struggle to breathe because of the hatred and violence that threatens to smother us. I don’t want to go back. I’m listening because of the hope that the music that watered the roots of my life will sing anew, more beautiful, powerful and inspirational than ever as I make my way through my sixtieth decade.
Please God, let me see the day when mourning breaks. Sing it, Judith.