The recent death of Mary Travers of the beloved trio of Peter, Paul, and Mary brought sadness to my heart as I realized that like Puff the Magic Dragon, one of the groups that brought joy to my formative years was gone forever. I attended a number of PP&M concerts and even had the pleasure of meeting Peter Yarrow a couple of times. I’m sure many of us wept when we were “Leaving on a Jet Plane” or sang out loudly to “If I Had a Hammer” ready to change the world.
One of my favorite songs of Peter, Paul, and Mary was a Bob Dylan tune called “Blowin’ in the Wind.” In our current world where so much feels like it’s simply “blowin’ in the wind,” I offer today’s blog in honor of Mary Travers and the gifted Bob Dylan and all of us who wonder about life’s questions.
Dylan’s song asks, “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” Perhaps we could reframe that same question as, “How many times do I have to prove myself to the world before I become visible?” or “How many ways can I show my love to my husband or my family before they accept me?” “How many times do I have to start again before I’m on the right track? We seem to always have questions about how we can simply be validated as who we are.
The song also postulates, “How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?” This one seems close to the comment Jesus often made to His followers, “Let those who have ears to hear, hear.” Many of us have been listening our whole lives, struggling to hear the voices of charity and love and doing what we can to change the song to a brighter one. Some of us answer the calling by volunteering our skills and our time in a job where we’ll sadly never run out of work to be done.
In some measure, the answers are not blowing in the wind because we have ears to hear, and hearts to share, and hands to help each other.
We’re not turning our heads pretending we just don’t see. We do listen and find ways to help because we’re good people with a lot to offer. We give our joyful spirits, our positive responses, and our willingness to keep seeking the best for each other.
Each of us is but a breath, and like Peter, Paul, and Mary, we can sing out any time we see injustice. We can “hammer out danger” and “hammer out the love between our brothers and our sisters” and be counted when we discover things we cringe to know exist. We can open our eyes and our hearts and pray for the many who suffer through no fault of their own. We don’t have to go off and save the world, but we can do something. We each have it within us to bring a little more hope to our own homes, our communities, our neighbors across the street and across the world.
When we don’t try the answers remain, “blowing in the wind” and edging the darkness a little closer. Incline your ear then, lean in a bit more and see if you can hear a calling, the voices of those who have gone before us, asking us to pay attention and do what we can.
The last time I heard Peter, Paul, and Mary perform, they were probably well into their 50s, but their voices were as crystal clear as ever. They made us laugh at ourselves, wish that imagination would carry us forever like Puff the Magic Dragon, and hope for all humanity that we would indeed embrace each other.
Generation after generation, we are graciously reminded that what matters most is love. On that note, I remind you how loved you are today, by me and all those who have the privilege to walk the way with you.