September Song, How Much to Dream, How High to Fly

WORD Becoming, Spiritual Reflections by Fr Roderick Salazar SVD (Philippines)

It’s not quite that time of the year yet, I know,
but I look forward to tomorrow.

September Song is how it is titled, this Frank Sinatra tune of old,
“Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December,
but the days grow short when you reach September.”

In the context of the temperate zone,
where it was composed and first sung, it continues,
“When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame,
one hasn’t got time for the waiting game.
Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few….
September, November, and these few precious days,
I’ll spend with you….”

This gentle, nostalgic song from the 1940s would be joined
in succeeding generations by others with different beats
but still about autumn when in Western countries,
after the longed-for and presumably enjoyable summer,
the academic year begins or resumes.
So we would hear, “I’ll see you in September,
when summer is gone. Have a good time but remember,
I’ll be waiting back home.”

Or, “See you in September, see you when the summer’s through
Have a good time but remember,
There is danger in the summer moon above
Will I see you in September or lose you to a summer love?

And there is that all-time favorite, which, I am sure,
many of us know and still hum or whisper
“Try to remember the kind of September,
when life was slow and oh so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
when grass was green, and grain was yellow,
try to remember the kind of September
when you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember, then follow….”

September songs these are and have been in the past.
What will the September Song be for 2020?
With all the death and the dying and the grief
that this virus has caused?
With the protracted on-and-off quarantine
imposed, modified, intensified?
It can hardly be the kind of September of old.

For sure, the academic year for much
of the world has been shaken.
Adjustments have had to be made.
Face masks most of the time, if not all of the time.
Face-to-face meetings have to be rethought,
What is possible and what is not, and how?

And this supposedly new term which makes
my blood boil whenever I hear it or read it.
It is like how I hate that a whole miseducated generation
of students and teachers and educationists
even officials refer to the entry point in formal education
There is NO KINDER in education.
If you do not mean MORE KIND.

The proper term is KINDERGARTEN.
Honor the German language, and be educated.

Haaay. Sigh.

There I have let it out.
Now this term NEW NORMAL.
Oh grr and grr again.

New things there will be. We explore them. Look for them.
But it will take time for new things to become the NORM
will take time, even longer for norms to be accepted
so that NORMAL emerges.
But, for instance, to say now, in the Philippines,
that on-line teaching is the “new normal”.
What do you make of the many schools
especially in the rural areas that have no computers,
cell phones. not even electricity. ABNORMAL?
Maybe for your city schools but not for the whole country.
Face masks for everyone, disinfectants here and there,
Physical distancing – all of them NORMAL?
By declaring anything to be NEW NORMAL,
You declare anything else that does not conform, ABNORMAL.

Is that correct? Is that fair? Who gave you the right to do so?
More than face masks, it is the hasty, presumptuous naming
of things and processes as NEW NORMAL that creates

But okay, deep breath. Calm down.

Try to remember. Remember. Remember.
The need to calm down, as the season changes.
What to do, then?
In the quiet, once more, maybe some light.
From a little parable, some lessons.

The nest of young eagles were clinging to every word
as the Master or Doctor Eagle described his exploits.
This was an important day for the eaglets.
They were preparing for their first solo flight from the nest.
It was the confidence-builder many of them needed
to fulfill their destiny.
“How far can I travel?” asked one of the eaglets.
“How far can you see?” replied the Master Eagle.
“How high can I fly?” asked another. “
How far can you stretch your wings?” answered the old eagle.
“How long can I fly?”, quizzed still another eaglet.
“How far is the horizon?” the mentor rebounded.
“How much should I dream?” raised another young bird.
“How much can you dream? ” smiled the older, wiser eagle.
“How much can I achieve?” another young eagle continued.
“How much can you believe?” the old eagle challenged.

Frustrated by the banter, the young eagles chorused,
“Why don’t you answer our questions?”
“I did”. “
But you answered them with other questions.”
“I answered them the best I could.”
“But you’re the Master Eagle. You’re our Mentor.
You’re a Doctor. You’re supposed to know everything.
If you can’t answer these questions, who can?”

‘You”, the wise eagle reassured them.
“We? How?” The young eagles were confused.

“You call me Master. You call me Mentor. You call me Doctor.
That I may be. That I may have been made and have become.
But a Master or Mentor or Doctor does not and cannot know everything.
Some things, yes, but not everything.”
“No one can tell you how high to fly or how much to dream.
It’s different for each eagle.
Only God and you know how far you’ll go.
No one on this earth knows your potential
or what’s in your heart. You alone will answer that.
The only thing that limits you is the edge of your imagination.”

“What should we do?” asked the eaglets.
And the Master Eagle said,
“Look to your heart, look to the horizon,
spread your wings, and fly.”

From the eagles, young and old,
may we learn hope in the midst of despair;
in our aloneness, the assurance of unity;
in our lost-ness, the confidence of finding and being found.

Look to your heart, look to the horizon. Spread your wings
and FLY.

Shh, do you hear? There. You hear it now? Shh.

“And I will bear you up on eagle’s wings
bear you on the breath of dawn
make you to shine like the sun
and hold you in the palm of My hand…”

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