Monday, September 14, 2009

Somewhere in the Troposphere

Its 7:19 PM on a Sunday evening and I’m sailing through the troposphere, slicing the airstream at some subsonic speed on the way to a two week class in Melbourne, FL. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an upgrade, which had previously been waitlisted. This afforded a roomier seat for my skinny little frame. The grapes, cheese and china teacups were too were a nice as well. There’s an overcast ceiling down below, perhaps ten or so thousand few below the United Airlines 757.

After ruminating over Father Toby’s sermon, I broke out the iPod and dug for some ear food, since the Captain had elected no to make the cockpit audio available to the cabin. The menu fell on Randy Stonehill’s song, “Starlings”,a powerful song that in my estimation could easily be the “Deacon’s Anthem”. The song speaks of the birds brought to the new world by someone who wanted to have a piece of their former home in their new homeland. These birds quickly adapted to their new digs and became an invasive nuisance.

The second stanza moves to consider those who, unfortunately, have come to be viewed as the “human starlings”. The lyrics go something like this:

Riding with my family in a '58 Buick
I can still recall
How we'd drive through the valley
To my Grandmother's house
Every summer vacation
When I was small
And I'd gaze out the window
At the farms and the orchards
And the sound of our motor
Would frighten the starlings
And they'd rise from the fields to fly
My mother would grumble
"Those birds are a curse
They're a thorn in the farmers" side
But I couldn't help feeling sad and inspired
By their desperate ballet in the sky

Say a prayer for the starlings
A hot, dry wind beats their ragged wings
Have a thought for the starlings
No one ever listens to the songs they sing
Say a prayer for the starlings
There's no welcome for them anywhere
Leave some crumbs for the starlings
They say that Winter will be cold this year

She was sitting on a curb by the Seven Eleven®
She asked if I had some spare change
Her skin wore that leathered and windburned look
And the light in her blue eyes was wild and strange
I sat down beside her and asked her her name
She said, "pick one you like, I need something to eat"
And her life made me think
Of the dead leaves in Autumn
Drifting like ghosts down the street

Is the life that we celebrate only a dream
A lie that we serve like a god made of stone
And our hearts are the hunter
Birds with no nesting place
Weary and aching for home


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