Never having to walk alone

Shortly after 9/11, I sang in a recital at the Community Music School in Buffalo. When I was choosing a song for the recital, I tried to come up with a song that felt inspiring and that gave a positive message of  hope and endurance. One song that has always given me that message is “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. 

“When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high

And don’t be afraid of the dark.”

During the years that followed, it felt as if darkness had taken over. It was the darkness that was such a big part of the universe in Madeleine L’Engle’s book, A Wrinkle in Time. It was a darkness that had taken control of people’s hearts and people’s minds. It left them feeling afraid and feeling a need to have other people tell them what to do. On the planet Camazotz, the people had become automatons, all doing the same thing at the same time. 

Camazotz was a place totally consumed by darkness, which is not surprising. Camazotz was originally not a place but a dark figure, a death bat, that was described in the Popul Vuh, the sacred book of the Mayan Qu’iche people of Guatemala. Camazotz, the Death Bat, may have been the inspiration for Batman, the Dark Knight, who comes from somewhere entirely unknown to save us from ourselves.

But hope always overpowers the darkness, even during the most terrifying of storms. My own personal storm came in the winter of 2007-2008, when I became ill with pneumonia. I feared the darkness of night, when everything became quiet and obscure. When I began to recover, I still had trouble sleeping so I watched the moon shine a light that cut through the terror of nighttime. And it gave me hope.

“At the end of a storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark…”

Early in the morning and just before sunset, there is a golden hour, when the light from the sky glows with such a brightness that everything looks golden. But the golden sky lasts for just a moment. A moment of hope and a moment of intense beauty. Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” depicts the fragile nature of that golden beauty. The leaves that start off as delicate flowers. Humans are like that, too. Our hearts start off tender and open to love and kindness.

And then, when the golden magic is gone, we allow fear to take over. Nightfall leaves us shaking with our fears. We look outside and see nothing and our fears build. We fear the people that we are told to fear. We see them as monsters, not as humans. But sometimes, we become aware of the golden hour that comes just before nightfall, when, for the second time in a day, everything radiates with gold. When we meet the people called our enemies, we discover that they are not horrible monsters. They are humans, just like us. Our battles become futile. The futility of fighting was seen during World War I, when there was a Christmas truce. Enemies shared food, sang Christmas carols, played ball games, and shared family pictures. 

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

I love this song because of its message of never giving up in the face of frightening things, such as storms. I also like the message of never having to be alone, as long as you have hope in your heart. Even in this time, when darkness seems to have taken over, hope is not so easily extinguished. It lives in you and in me and in friends and neighbors and in those enemies who really aren’t enemies.

(Music credit: Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Oscar Hammerstein II / Richard Rodgers, You’ll Never Walk Alone lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC)

5 thoughts on “Never having to walk alone”

  1. Alice, this is a wonderful and encouraging post! That song is one of my favorites and how you also incorporated Madeleine L'Engle's book, A Wrinkle in Time, into your post is brilliant! (again, one of my favorite writers and books) Thank you for the morning smile.

  2. I love both the song and your message in this post!! Not feeling alone can make all the difference in the world.

  3. Alice, what a beautiful post.. thanks for sharing . I always say, what we did as a community by holding Tonawanda Coke’s feet to the fire, gives folks “hope” .. we all need to be reminded of this in these crazy times

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