Dylan, His Music and His Past

I started to listen to Bob Dylan’s music this morning. It brought back to mind a visit by the late actor, Theodore Bikel, to my fraternity house in Atlanta for dinner one night in 1964. He told us about the Jewish son of the Zimmermans of Hibbing, Minnesota who had “deserted” them. They were pleading through the actor for Bob (Zimmerman) Dylan’s return, apparently wherever they could. “After studying at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis he moved to New York City in 1961.” (Per the Famuse talent management website).

I doubt either lived long enough to see their son win the Nobel Prize in literature. Though they certainly saw him give musical and poetic joy to millions of people. On the other hand, I am not sure of precisely what they wanted as I try to piece together an old, old memory.

I do know this. When his own son, Jacob, was born he wrote an unforgettable piece of music hoping his newborn would stay Forever Young and that God would bless and keep him always.


“Why Is It So Hard for Men to Make Close Friends?” is the title of an essay by Catherine Pearson in last Monday’s New York Times. Interesting question.

It has been a boon for me, as a Messianic Jew, to attend two, church, fellowship groups. They nurture friendships.

Both involve men sharing their lives and seeking prayer together. Most of my last decade I have been active in those two groups.

The groups add a dimension to my quiet, elderly life. I have heard it said that your life tends to close down as you get older. The fellowship groups to the contrary expand my life.

In addition to my height shrinking with age, I don’t want my life shrinking. If you have or will have the privilege of getting old, may God bless you with good, close friends who enthusiastically share their days with you.

Winslow, Another Look

In 1972 the Eagles wrote their song, Take it Easy. It commemorated the town of Winslow, AZ.

Kristine and I did not meet until five years later.That very last week of 1977, we began our trek from Baltimore, MD to Ventura, CA, a town memorialized by the Pontiac Ventura, a car that died that same year.

On the last day of our journey the beautiful, cool, winter weather drifted through AZ. We were driving the 2nd least dependable car I had ever owned, both of which were not vetted. My lack of skill through the age of 32 in buying dependable cars was remarkable.

It was evening and we were rolling down the road into Winslow, AZ. At the same time from our subpar speaker system we heard the Eagles singing” Well I am standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ.”🎵 🎶.

We couldn’t bring ourselves to actually stop and stand on a corner. Our car might have died like the Pontiac Ventura had we stopped.

All You Need is Love

A moment’s relief…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Charles Schulz

Have you tried the Lindt, dark chocolate bars? What about the Ghirardelli, dark chocolate, Hazelnut heaven?

The key here is to so enjoy one square, that, you needn’t scarf the entire bar. I know none of us can always do that, but have you considered doing that most of the time?

Now, how about a moment of silence for those who say they don’t like chocolate?

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It has been 59 years and one week since the assassination of John F Kennedy. The nation’s grief over his sudden death was magnified by his youth. He was a bright, extraordinary orator who had captured the country’s imagination.

That was certainly a different era. The Lincoln Continental convertible in which he was riding with Jacqueline cost the federal government $7,000. Think about that a minute.

I was an Emory freshman in Atlanta on that Friday afternoon awaiting a chemistry lab. I heard the news while sitting in my dorm room. A fellow student was running down the hall shouting the news. The lab was canceled as was our fraternity’s party set for that evening.

I think most Americans over 70 can recall where they were and how vivid and heartbreaking the announcement came to all of us. I mark the beginning of my adulthood on that tragic Friday afternoon.

Our Native Tongue by Osmosis

Our language…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

And so the NYT obituaries today included one entitled: “Lila Gleitman, Who Showed How Children Learn Language, Dies at 91.” She did essential research throughout her life to show us.

She affirmed some of her thinking with her two-year-old daughter: “One day when she was driving and Claire was in the car, Dr. Gleitman took a sharp turn and said, ‘Hold on tight.’ Her daughter immediately replied, ‘Isn’t that tightly?’” The utterance showed how even a toddler could understand linguistic nuances, without having been taught them.”

I am fascinated by our original language, which we seem to learn by osmosis, unlike other languages. The essay says about the incident with Claire, “Dr. Gleitman called the process “syntactic bootstrapping” — the use of an innate grasp of linguistic structure and its relationship to meaning to figure out new words.”

She describes the child as discovering what he or she already knows…

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With Purpose

“You must believe it is your destiny to create beauty in this world. To shape your life with love and purpose, touch it ever so briefly with your weary hands and leave it a little more cherished than it was.” Land Leave, an American poet. 

Each of us by God’s grace, has some tender and purposeful acts to leave behind. A son or daughter nurtured to the brim with attention and goodwill. Particular words of encouragement a daughter or son will never forget. A tranquil moment with a loved one overflowing with smiles and gratitude. A thoughtful letter that becomes a keepsake to a mother or father. 

These may appear small, but are oh-so-large gifts we can leave one another touched by our weary hands.

“The Weight”

Looking back…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

To say medical school was stressful was an understatement. It was compounded by the youth of those of us who suffered through much of it. The amount of work, the first direct exposure in one’s life to the death of the critically ill and the mayhem of emergency work were our obstacles to peace of mind.

On the other hand, “Musichas charms tosootheasavage breast.” The verse was spoken by a character in William Congreve’s 1697 play, “The Mourning Bride.” Even those with Alzheimer’s seem to be helped by music. Time in the outdoors soothes as well.

That is why the Florida Folk Festival which began in 1952 was such a grand relief for me in the early 70s, while in school. It was in a beautiful wooded area bordering the Suwannee River in Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

I remember, distinctly, as I sat in those beautiful woods…

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Love is

“And there’s nothing you can do to change the fact that love is, or it isn’t. It will either work or it won’t.” “One day you will find refuge in another, and they will learn to know your heart like it was their own.” Lang Leave, American poet.

Someone broke your heart. Another did not. Yet another may hold you dear for much of your adult life.

Love is the most precious thing in life, but it cannot be willed. It happens.

It’s God’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious gift in our present sojourn on earth. Is it not?

Think about where you would be without it. Scary thought.


Quite the memory…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

It was shortly after my dear mom died on 11/24/06. I was dreaming, by the grace of God, talking to my mom.

It happened only once. It was as realistic a dream as I have ever experienced. I rarely remember my dreams. This one was unforgettable.

Mom was middle-aged in the dream and articulate unlike the woman we had seen drift into the fog of Alzheimer’s. To say the talk was uplifting would be an understatement.

It brought me a wonderful peace after what my siblings and I had endured over the last years of her life. Thank God for huge favors.

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