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Songs give comfort, hope for peace

The song “Bridge over Troubled Water” was written by the American music duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel and played for the first time in 1970, a time of great turmoil in our country.

President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in 1963; students on university campuses throughout the country were demonstrating for social change; the Vietnam War was causing division and civil unrest throughout the nation, and then Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. The song was meant to comfort those in grief, discouragement and despair.

Do you remember the words? “When you’re weary, feeling small.”

I have felt like that when I cannot control the world at war, our many homeless people and my personal losses.

The song goes on to assure us that when dark moments and pain surround us, there is this person who will be there for you. You will sail on, and your dreams will come. A friend will “sail behind” you, and will “ease your mind.” I have been comforted by listening to Simon and Garfunkel singing this gentle, consoling and uplifting song.

We have all been dealing with troubled waters. I had tears in my eyes while I listened to Julianne Johnson sing this song at the Michael Allen Harrison concert in Lake Oswego’s Millennium Plaza Park on July 10. The deadly attack on police officers in Dallas, Texas, was horrific.

The shootings occurred just three days before the concert.

Who would have expected the murder of the very people who are protecting us? This was the act of Xavier Johnson who thought he needed to kill the policemen, and that was his mission.

We were in shock.

The attacks on police did not stop in Dallas. More followed, and we wondered when we would feel safe again.

History reminded me of another tragedy 15 years ago. I will never forget 9/11. None of us will. We discovered new heroes, who gave their lives to save others.

The following spring, I went to New York to look at the remains of the World Trade Center. “I was a part of a large group of people walking past the huge cavern of destruction called Ground Zero,” I wrote in a Jottings article after the visit. How could we ever comfort all of the families who lost loved ones? I felt such sadness for them and for our country.

While visiting the site of the destruction, I heard a women’s chorale group singing “On Holy Ground,” an old gospel hymn.

“We are standing on holy ground, And I know, I know there are angels all around.Let us praise, praise Him now, For we are standing in His presence on holy ground.”

The words of the hymn gave me hope that all of us will be taken care of by a Higher Presence, who was on that higher ground. As I continued walking, I came to a cast-iron cross in the ruble that a rescue worker had found.

The rusted cross was marking what the construction crew called “God’s Place” according to an article in “Newsday.”

Music does lift my spirits and give me hope. I was grateful to be in a place where the songs chosen were so meaningful.

One of the songs Johnson sang at the July 10 concert was John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which caused me to do just that — imagine.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will be as one.”

Why not dream of peace? What can I do to nurture that dream?

Joan Waldron is a member of the Jottings group of the Lake Oswego Adult Community