First Things…


On my way to a midlife English MA, an undergraduate leveling course in linguistics introduced me to not only one more excellent teacher (Dr. Livingston, who had made a long ago professional/academic jump from math to English Lit and would subsequently retire to mind his cattle, his grandkids, and his bass fishing), but to the previously unguessed wonders and delights of other tongues.

I consider myself blessed to be able to read Shakespeare and Sam Clemens in the original. But there are concepts unique to every language, and finding the one that the Hurons have embodied in a single word was like recovering a treasure lost in a previous life.

Orenda: a song that asks without demanding, hopes without begging, prays without beseeching, empowers the singer without disfiguring and encumbering the soul with hubris. It is a humble expectation balanced by a fear tempered by a great determination. What writer could do without all of that condensed and crystalized into one shimmering word? Orenda.

With that in mind, I am offering here stanzas of a song composed from the odd scraps and gleanings of a life that began in the year when the B52 heavy bomber made its first test flight. For better or worse, my hands and head have gotten into more than a few odd places. The result has been some practical knowledge and a mixed bag of experience re: matters as large as death and fate and as pleasantly trivial as a paper party hat.

In any case–enjoy the song.

LMJ, Sept. 8, 2014

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