Peeking Through the Clouds: A Glimpse Into the Incomprehensible
But I feel very grateful for this experience, to have been blessed with a brief glimpse at a short fiber in the divine, incomprehensible, interconnectedness of The Universe
Also posted on www.SheldonLow.com/blog
I have been meaning to put these words to paper for a long while now. For one, I just don’t want to forget it, but secondly, I still find it stranger than fiction.
The series of events began in October in southern California. The whole family was getting together to celebrate my grandpa Hans’ 90th birthday and, for me, no trip to SoCal is complete without stopping at Amoeba Music. I spend hours flipping through the CDs, but always go searching for out-of-print or harder-to-find artists in the used bins. David Wilcox is always one of the first on my list, and I managed to walk out with his album “The Nightshift Watchman” along with eight other albums by other artists, that I promptly put on my ipod. If you don’t know David Wilcox, he looks and sounds to me a lot like Dan Nichols and is just as awesome. Go listen right now!
But I digress. Seven months passed, and somehow I managed to forget about the album until driving home from dinner one night with my girlfriend Hadar. Flipping through my iPod, I found the album and excitedly pressed play. We listened all the way home but didn’t get through the whole album.
The next day Hadar flew to MI, and I found myself having a hard time falling asleep. I often like to play a little music to help me sleep, so I decided to listen to the rest of the Wilcox album. But there was only one song left, called “Sunshine On the Land.”
I instantly fell in love with the song. Though the song is about a friend who passes away, it’s an uplifting song about the light each of us shines on the world. It’s a very Jewish song in that sense.
Now it happens I was scheduled to play a scholarship kickoff concert two days later and something felt so right about singing this song. You see, the scholarship was started in memory of a teen named Andrew who had recently passed away. His friends and family would all be attending the concert, but I was told that the event was meant to be a happy occasion. I wanted to make sure to keep that spirit, and I was pretty sure this song would be a perfect tribute to Andrew’s memory. It was one of those times in life where someone just hands you exactly what you need exactly when you need it. And, as I said, it’s a beautiful song about life. But it’s also about the end of a life, and I wanted to be as sensitive as possible to his family. I just wasn’t sure. So I decided to learn the song and mull it over for the next 36 hours.
It took me all 36 hours to get down the lyrics, and I decided that I could also soften the song further, by doing a medley of “Sunshine On the Land” with “You Are My Sunshine”. Even as I pulled into the venue, I was unsure of whether or not I would sing the song.
Bruce Weinberg, the concert coordinator met me inside and after exchanging hellos, pointed to a stack of dark blue t-shirts at the front door. “We need to get you a T-shirt”, he said and then proceeded to explain that everyone in attendance would be receiving a t-shirt that matched the one he was wearing. Running across his chest, in bright silk-screened, white lettering were the words, “Forever Shining”.
Now some may have taken that for the sign I was looking for, but I wanted to be sure, so I pulled Bruce aside, and asked him whether or not he felt it would be appropriate. “Go for it!” he said. Even still, I wasn’t sure if I should sing it.
The concert began with the family presenting the first scholarship award, and I had a chance to quickly meet the parents as they walked off stage. The concert began, and per usual I called up several young people to come on stage and sing with me. After the bulk of my upbeat, up-tempo songs, I saw that the crowd was with me, and I decided I would chance singing the songs.
In between verses, I explained how I had accidentally just heard the song for the first time two days earlier. I spoke about how honored I was to be asked to take part in representing Andrew’s love of music. We finished with a stirring room filling acapella version of “You Are My Sunshine” and the room fell silent. The lights were too bright for me to see the audience, but I knew the song had done it’s magic.
After the concert, I was standing by my merch table meeting people and autographing merchandise when one of the young men who I had called up on stage came to speak with me. He told me he had been one of Andrew’s friends, and he thanked me for the concert. We spoke for a few moments, and as he turned to walk away, he looked over his shoulder and asked, “Did you know Andrew’s nickname?” I told him no, I didn’t. “It was Sunshine”, he explained. I stood there speechless as he turned and walked away.
There are too many things to be said about this incredible story I’m still figuring them all out. But I feel very grateful for this experience, to have been blessed with a brief glimpse at a short fiber in the divine, incomprehensible, interconnectedness of the universe. Blessed are you, G-d, ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this day.