I awoke Sunday morning to see bruising on the palms of my fingers and hands, physical reminders of an afternoon of fun at the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware’s Parish Life Day.
I traveled half the world and back again only to learn to play an African drum in
An afternoon within the circle.
I have long been in love with the beat of drums. Steady, solid, stomach thumping.
There is something to be said for losing yourself within the beat. Eyes closed, beating your drum, being lead by the facilitator who keeps the beat. At times you move away from the circle, change your beat, lose your way, but are brought back again by the steady rhythm of the mother drum.
The rhythmic drumming allows me to tune into the natural beats of my heart, soul, the movement of the earth, nature.
What a gift to be given.
Within the circle, part of life. Coming full around.
Other phrases come to mind.
Marching to the beat of a different drummer, The Little Drummer Boy, drum set, oil drums.
The novel Bang the Drum Slowly was written by Mark Harris (a relation?) and published in 1956. It was made into a movie starring Robert DeNiro.
In the book, Harris's narrator Henry "Author" Wiggen, a star pitcher, tells the story of a baseball season with the New York Mammoths (a fictional team based on the Yankee's.) DeNiro plays a the catcher who is diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease who struggles to play his last remaining season. Wiggen tries to be supportive of Pearson while concealing his illness. It is a story of courage, loyalty, friendship and death.The opening scenes of the movie show the stars running the track at Yankee Stadium before its 1973 to 1976 renovation, though due to the renovation, the baseball scenes were filmed in Shea Stadium.
Loyalty, friendship and death.
To a New Yorker, the tearing down of the current Yankee Stadium to build another is like losing a friend.
However, it was an article by Tom Verducci, for Inside Baseball, printer September 18, 2008, that really summed it up for me.
What caught my eyes were the words "I am dying."
It continues with "It's O.K. You need not feel sorry for me. I have lived a full life. I was born in 1923, the same year as Maria Callas, Charlton Heston, Roy Lichtenstein and Norman Mailer. All are gone now. They did well in the time with which they were graced to strut about the stage. I'd like to think I have done likewise.
Besides, I really haven't been myself since 1973, when they cut me clean open and for two years rearranged most of my vital organs...., removed some of them and put me back together in such a way that I looked nothing like I did before."
"See, we're just like you, only without the bother of the respiratory and circulatory apparatus. We buildings have a life span too. Time is the undefeated antagonist that takes on all comers. We age and crack and wrinkle and, yes, ultimately die.
(Don't get me started on that darn Colosseum in
I don't like to blow smoke, but my death is unlike any loss seen before in
It's not only the Babe and the Mick and Derek Jeter who played inside my walls. It's Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, John Philip Sousa and Pink Floyd, Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi, Billy Graham and Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush."
The article is long and full of remembrances of times before my birth, my youth, and my middle age. About players I am sad to admit, I do not remember, but of those I will not forget.
I remember the summer of 1967, while working at one of the city parks, I happened to take a group of kids into the city to see the Yankees play ball. Oh, how naive I was to think that I could ride the train, get off at the correct stop and voila end up at the stadium.
The first stop was actually the Bowery. Yikes. The kindness of strangers turned us around, headed us in the right direction and we arrived for the game.
However, rain showers interrupted the game.
For reasons not understood by me, several of the boys decided to jump the fence and assist the groundskeepers in pulling the cover over center field. What mayhem.
What to do?
Jump the fence and get them, since at this point they were being chased by security.
Unfortunately, others had the same idea.
I ended up standing in front of the Yankee dugout, staring at the players I adored. Mantle, Pepitone, Amaro, Ford, Howard, Stottlemyre.
Soaking wet and a stupid grin.
Or how about a day in October 2001. The 30th. When the world watched the World Series played out in NYC at Yankee Stadium.
"On that night, the wreckage and rubble of the 9/11 terrorist attacks were still smoldering at Ground Zero. People were afraid to fly. The comfort of routine was lost to the anxiety that another attack could come at any moment. People came to Game 3 of the World Series that night with great apprehension. President Bush was scheduled to throw the ceremonial first pitch. What unnerved the fans was that they knew they were either in the safest place in the world at that moment or the absolutely most dangerous place in the world, but they had no way of ruling out either choice with any certainty."
"Snipers perched on my rooftop. Special agents were everywhere, including one in an umpire's uniform gathered with the other umpires at home plate. Then the President came out of the dugout and bounded toward the pitching mound."
The people were crying. These were New Yorkers. They were in tears. ... The leader of the free world, when American soil suddenly felt strangely unsafe, stood alone on my mound. He thrust his right arm into the air and gave a thumbs-up sign. Then he reached back with the baseball, stepped forward, brought his arm around with a natural looseness and let go the most perfect strike you could ever imagine to Yankees backup catcher Todd Greene. The crowd erupted into a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
"It wasn't just the ceremonial first pitch of Game 3. It was the ceremonial first pitch to America's recovery."
So, I have rambled long enough tonight. I have come full circle, lead by the beat of my heart and soul.
And, as Thanksgiving approaches, I remember those who will not be with me this year; Mom, Dad, Granny, Granda, Greg, Jim.
However, I am comforted remembering the words of Jesus, paraphrased.
The Beat Goes On.
"The Beat Goes On" was sung at Sonny Bono's funeral, and the phrase also appears on his tombstone.