Friday, July 07, 2006

Silence & Song

This morning was beautiful. The sky was clear blue. The air was cool and crisp. Chris and Ethan joined Abbi and me for our morning run in Central Park. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth mile, there beneath a deep green canopy of leaves on the bridal path east of The Reservoir, Ethan began singing.

He was reclining in the jogging stroller, looking up at the sky through the trees. The stroller was bumping along the gravel path. He was singing softly to himself. I could only scarcely make out the words over our collective footfalls, only his sweet, soft voice warbling with every bump.

At the end of last week's shoot, Amy read me a letter Mr. Rogers had sent her from Nantucket. I'm sure it will make the documentary. He wrote about quietly observing the sunset over Madaket Bay, and how deeply he was moved by it. I can't quote the letter verbatim (the interviews are being transcribed by our brand-new, most-capable Associate Producer, Katia Maguire, who produces for PBS' "American Masters" by day), but in essence, Mr. Rogers told Amy that the deep and simple beauty of the moment inspired him to sing songs of praise (Amy calls them "doxology").

"There's something very mystical and wonderful about how music can touch us," he told the Academy of Television & Radio. "You know, it's elemental."

It struck me this morning that, without any prompting, or learning, Ethan knows how to respond to beauty and grace: with song. Of course, Mr. Rogers knew all about the power of song.

"The music is a huge part of my work. It was always a way of expressing who I was and how I felt."

Music was definitely a shorthand for Mr. Rogers and me. The day after I met him, I played "Summer's Gone" in his living room. I think he intuited a lot from that song choice ("summer's gone away/everything left to decay/there is nothing you can say/to make it last"). I think he felt the sense of loss and hope in me. Later, he played "Happy Birthday" and "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" for me. I didn't need to intuit much; his openness, love and light spilled from his eyes and radiated from his fingertips.

There was a lot of silence and song between Mr. Rogers and me. When the horror of September 11th derailed the long-planned release of my CD, "Crash Site," I asked myself what he would do. Two weeks later, Mr. Rogers called the venue at which I performed a Red Cross benefit and sold copies of a newly-recorded benefit single just to wish me good luck.

Silence and song.

The sun was setting as Chris and I wrapped up our interview with Bo in Mebane, NC, last week. Chris was picking up some final shots from the deck of The Human Kindness Foundations Meditation Center. I stood next to him, quietly taking in the cool, tranquil, and beautiful moment. Just over our shoulder, a morning dove sang softly, "Whooo, whoooo, whooooo..." I often think of God when I hear morning doves. I know He/She was with us then. I didn't say a word to Chris. But last night, as I quickly screened the tapes, I found that Chris had pointed the camera towards that beautiful bird and its song, and lingered there a while.

Silence and song.

There will be plenty of both in this film.

For Mr. Rogers. And me. And Ethan.

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