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Mary Rocap: Journal

Lyrics for the songs on the Spring: The Wind's Story CD - August 4, 2017

 

1.    Keep On Keeping On

I’m gonna keep the company of friends

Keep on keeping on

Keep the peace, keep the faith

Keep singing out the song

Tap my foot to the tree frogs, out there keeping time

Keep the beat, embrace the heat

The drummer’s pace is mine

I’m gonna keep the promises I make

Stop keeping track of yours

Keep asking God for what I need

Keep knocking on that door

 

I’m gonna keep on being where it’s at

Keep coming back for more

Keep helping with a helping hand

Keep paying at the door

Keep standing up for what is right

That’s what standing up is for

Walk the walk, talk the talk

Make it better than before

Keep the fire burning bright

Keep it casual, keep it clean

Keep it all between the lines but

Question everything 

 

Don’t keep the love that’s in your heart

Give it all away

Don’t keep the light within you hid

Keep on shining everyday

Don’t you keep your distance

Don’t keep to yourself

Don’t keep the gifts you’re given

Share your wisdom, share your wealth

Keep your eyes on the prize

Keep your hand up on the plow

Keep it strong, keep it real

I know that you know how

 

2.    Call to Remember

It’s a call to remember

It’s a call to return

It’s a call to surrender

And it makes my heart burn

 

When summer’s light begins to fade

The sun slips low across the sky

Casts a net of slanting rays

The North Star rises high

 

You just have to spread your wings

When the geese begin to sing

Once in flight you will be strong

Even if the journey’s long

 

3.    A  Song of Farewell

I have lived my life in this fair land

I have reaped what I have sown

I have loved my love with an open hand

What’s loved cannot be owned

Now you have set your gaze afield

And it leads you far away

Take the love, it’s mine to give

May it bring you back one day

 

But if you never pass this way again

In the time that you’ve been given

And if I never see your face on earth

I’ll see your face in heaven

All the dreams I’ve ever dreamed

All my hopes tossed to the wind

Every moment of every hour

Returns to me again

 

May God smile upon you

And smile upon me

May God bless all that you do

And may you find your peace

 

4.    Go Without Fear

Live without fear. Your creator loves you, made you holy, and has always protected you.  Follow the good road in peace, and may God's blessing remain with you always. –St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)

Go without fear

God has made you holy

He’s your sword; he’s your shield

He loves you like a father

In danger or in trouble

He’s with you on the battlefield

Fighting the good fight / doing what is right / when you think you’re all alone

He’s keeping you in his sight / throughout the long night / facing down the unknown

 

Go without fear

God has made you holy

He’ll be there when you call his name

He loves you like a mother

Gives comfort midst the struggle

Medicine for the pain

Walking down the road / carrying the load / you’re the apple of God’s eye

Praying as you go / preaching what you know / what you need will be supplied

 

Go without fear

God has made you holy

He’s your rock and your hiding place

He loves you like a lover

Protects you while you slumber

Fills you with his grace

He’s worthy of your trust / made you from the dust / knew you before you were born

He’s the maker of the stars / all that’s near and far / every night and every morn 

 

Go without fear

God has made you holy

Ain’t no telling where this ends

He loves you like no other

Father, mother, lover

Now and forever, Amen.

 

5.    Some Days Just Go By

One day tells its tale to another, and one night imparts knowledge to another. Psalm 19:2; and a nod to John Crowley’s novel Little Big for the line “some days go by, others come.” 

The night will tell its dreams to the morning sun

The day will sing its song to the moon

Little breezes whisper what’s done is done

Water wears away the stone

 

A dream will tell you everything you need to know

Day comes and you forget it all

Mocking bird is laughing and it’s time to go

Get up, answer that call

 

Some days just go by, others come

Morning and evening, one by one

Another circle around the sun

Summer and winter, to and from, one by one

 

The dark bids you to come and to take your rest

The stars alive to mystery

Find the hidden treasure and you’ll be blest

Open up your heart and see

 

 

 

6.    Water Will Take Us All

Visions from a dream

I saw them from a distance the two dancers

The beginning of the ending of the world

Broken glass lay all about them

They danced on pointe around they twirled

 

In harmony fingers extended

Form and beauty, what a pair

I could not keep myself from staring

Amid the rubble, light as air

 

If I could lose myself, Excuse myself, Refuse myself

What would I know?

 

Beyond them lay my destination

A market on the battery

Exotic fruits on silver platters

And me with foreign currency

 

Nor did I speak the common language

A stranger babbling in plain sight

Out of time with no tomorrow

The last day turned to the last night

 

If I could lose myself, Excuse myself, Refuse myself

Where would I go?

 

The sea will boil

The rain will fall

Waves will crest above the wall

Creeks will rise

Ice will thaw

Water will take us all

 

7.    The Earth Has Learned to Sin

. . . and everyone calling to the mountains and rocks. “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne” . . . Rev. 6:15

A sinner knows his next of kin

And knows when it’s time to hide

But where in the world can a sinner go

Where neither bone nor tide deny

It’s a broken morning and a restless night

There’s something new; did I hear God sigh?

The rainbow promise is a-wearing thin

There’s an evil spirit rising and a-moving in

The devil sure to know his next of kin

The earth has learned to sin 

 

The flood has gone, here comes the fire

(The earth has learned to sin)

The devil is a-blaze and the devil’s a liar

(The earth has learned to sin)

Can’t hide in the forest cuz there ain’t no leaves

Can’t hide in the bushes cuz there is disease

Can’t hide in the market - every bird’s a spy

Everywhere, all the time, everything has eyes

The flood has gone, here comes the fire

(The earth has learned to sin)

 

Mountain wants to hide in the deep blue sea

(The earth has learned to sin)

The sea wants to fly as high as high can be

(The earth has learned to sin)

Can’t hide ‘neath the rock cuz the rock won’t budge

Can’t hide in the river cuz the river’s mud

Can’t hide in the darkness - it’s as light as day

Can’t hide in the Lord cuz you’ve never prayed

Mountain wants to hide in the deep blue sea

(The earth has learned to sin)

 

8.    A Fickle Wind

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. John 3:8

 

A fickle wind blows when it will

It doesn’t know how to be still

It will not say where it has been

It does not need you for a friend

An ill wind blows when it suits

Needs no permission and that’s the truth

Does not care if it’s day or night

It blows in darkness and the light

 

This would be a good time to pray

Before this world is blown away

 

A bitter wind won’t hesitate

It will take and take and take

It will curse what has been blessed

It will not stop it will not rest

An evil wind blows cause it can

Will leave its mark upon the land

It is not tame won’t be denied

It will just blow til it’s satisfied

 

Best get on your knees to pray

Lest this world is blown away

 

There is but one who has the power

Who can help in this dark hour

He calmed the storm he calmed the waves

If he’d but speak we would be saved

 

9.   They’re All Calling Out My Name: The Wind’s Story

Based on a barn fire across the road on a Good Friday night

They’re all calling out my name

Through the ashes, soot, and flame

Through the ashes, soot and flame, Oh Lord.

I hear them calling out to me

Through the smoke and sweat and heat

Through the smoke and sweat and heat, Oh Lord.

 

Critters on the run

Each and every one

Drumming fee-fi-fo-fee-fi-fum

Sparrows got the news

Flying two by two

It’s spreading fast – do what you can do

 

Vultures come to see

Wheeling three by three

Wheeling safe and free above the trees

Coyote pack of four

Howling woe for sure

Charge conspirator, four by four

 

And how did it begin?

Did the spark call the wind?

And was the wind ashamed

When the spark burst into flame?

 

I hear them calling out to me

Through the smoke and sweat and heat

Through the haze of memory, Oh Lord.

And it has never been the same

As if I was the one to blame

What if I was the one to blame? Oh Lord.

  

10. The Swallowtail

I watch the yellow swallowtail flutter in the air

Brightly colored powder wings so thin they’re hardly there

Today they gather round a bush that flowers with a rosy hue

Tomorrow the wind will carry them; are you more false than you’re true?

 

A week ago I had a vine and on the porch it grew

Your caterpillar-self ate every leaf and every tomato too

I was almost ready to pick the fruit the next day or the next

You ate until you could eat no more and then you ate the rest

 

Who knows how long a life you live; do you have a favorite part?

Would you rather creep or sleep or fly? Do you only have one heart?

Look, even now, I see you flying above the trees

Up and up and far away so high that I can’t see

 

Something has called you up and out; something has drawn you on

Was it brave to spread those yellow sails or just more right than wrong?

I’m left behind with a withered vine; you took something from me

You left and did you also take a swallowtail memory?

 

11. Whether or Not

Whether or not the tide is turning

Whether or not the winds do blow

Whether or not the sea is churning

Some choose to stay while others go

 

When you live ‘tween sea and sound

Your life is not your own

Shifting sand’s not solid ground

Can you trust the great unknown?

 

Deep in the night the light is calling

Both a warning and a welcoming

Out through the darkness the light keeps shining

It’s there for all to see

 

From the east the storm is coming

Should I hunker down or should I flee?

Full moon, water rising

There’s no safety in harbor or sea

 

12. The Scuppernong

Black water of the Scuppernong

Will still be here when I’m long gone

Migrating birds fly over me

The yonder also calls to me

        The river is what I know best

        Each season brings each season’s catch

        I know the wind, I know the tide

        I know the river sometimes lies

She can claim you for her own

She can teach you her sad song

She can hold you in her power

A deeper spell each passing hour

        I will rise and catch the wind

        On its currents wheel and spin

        Follow geese where they may ride            

        Look down on the river wide

And if I find I have miscast

That my future should be my past

To the sea all rivers run

I’ll make my way back to Scuppernong

        Black water of the Scuppernong

        There is black magic in your song

        Migrating birds fly wild and free

        The river has a hold on me

         

13.  A Plausible Explanation for the Redbud / music by Stephen Smith

Where the meadow meets the wood

A dark limbed tree does grow

And in the springtime breezes

Redbud blossoms blow

I see them on the roadside

On the edges of the lane

Between the tended and the wild

The tangled and the tame

But why it’s called a redbud

I’d surely like to know

There is no ruby in its blush

Saying don’t make it so

 

When the redbud was first named

It bloomed a scarlet true

But March he was a chilly wind

Tinged of icy blue

No livelier a vision

The colors did enchant

Indigo and crimson

Birthed a miscreant

And thus the wild bred blossom

Takes on a purple hue

In memory of when wind met flower

And flower said I love you

And flower said I love you

 

14. Ready to Wear

From a comment Tom made as he was folding a suit jacket to go into a suitcase. “This was not cut to fold.”

Just cuz I come off the rack

Doesn’t mean I am cheap . . .

I was ready to wear

Just missing my pair . . .

 

Now you’re packing it up

You were cut to fold

You’re not looking back

I was goods bought and sold

We were paisleys and plaids

Clashing and sad

I was dressed to the nines

Now I’m nickeled and dimed

Stone washed with lye

Hung out to dry

Three sheets to the wind

Not sure how to begin, again

 

I’ve been rattling around

This old lost and found

Time for rhinestones and pearls

To dress up this girl

With a breath of fresh air

I’ll be ready to wear

But I got these hand-me-down blues

I can’t get over you

Forgotten, ignored

In the second hand store

I want to sparkle and shine

Won’t you be mine, my pair

 

15. Circus Coming

In memory of the circus, sorry to see you go.

Written after a visit to the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art and Circus Museum, Saratoga, FL  

 

Posters are up all over town

Circus coming to the old campground

Gonna be things that you’ve never seen

Gonna be better than a dazzling dream

 

The very next day coming down the track

A long long train going clickey-clack

Elephants pulled up the tents

There were beautiful ladies and handsome gents

I saw tight rope walkers, a human cannon ball

Dancing bears, a grown man not three foot tall

I ate cotton candy, I ate caramel corn

Saw a sad-faced clown get a laugh when he performed

 

They left as quick as they had come

I got a souvenir: an Indian drum

Trash is scattered on the old campground

Barnum and Bailey a merry-go-round

Tonight I put a blanket on the bed

The greatest show on earth is what they said

October winds will bring a killing frost

A memory saved, a dream or two that’s lost

 

16. Turn Toward Home

There is a cold wind and it’s blowing

You can’t be out there on your own

Your coat is thin, your hunger showing

It might be time to turn toward home

        Turn toward home, Turn toward home

        It might be time for you to turn toward home

You thought you knew what you were doing

There is no shame in being wrong

All the pain that you are feeling

Will not last a life-time long  

Turn toward home, Turn toward home

It might be time for you to turn toward home

 

You have been a-wandering

O’er mountain, field, and plain

Can you find what you are looking for

When no one knows your name?

 

There is a cold wind and it’s blowing

You can’t be out there on your own

You’ve lost yourself in the unknowing

It might be time to turn toward home

 

17. Shine

I’ve been a pilgrim on a stretch of road

A dream catcher with a heavy load

A half-dead stranger with no next of kin

But I never knew a day that did not begin with

The mighty sun waking up the world

With just one thing in mind

And that’s, shine . . .

 

I’ve seen enough of the good and bad

I’ve been lucky and I’ve been had

But on this I can depend

There will not be a day that does not end with

The mighty moon rising with the stars

With just one thing in mind

And that’s, shine . . .

 

Shine above in darkness and in light

Shine the way from wrong- make it right

 

The arc of justice is one long long climb

It bends toward truth – just give it time

Be a blessing for the weak and worn

Show some mercy for those who mourn

We’re mighty souls in a mighty world

We’re living valentines

We’re made to shine . . .

Ocracoke Musings - June 11, 2017

Ocracoke is not a place I come to to be entertained or which provides distractions from my life. Ocracoke is a place that extends an invitation to rest, lean back, lean into, and embrace life. It has offers me the opportunity to live my life more fully.

When I come I bring my notebook and guitar for song writing, an in-progress-quilt, embroidery projects, and books I’ve been wanting to read, hardback books (this year: In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent and Lila by Marilynne Robinson).

My husband and I walk places together, we do what we do together, we talk or don’t talk, we take the time to look at the sunset. We’d rather be on the porch than inside; we’d rather walk the narrow streets and lanes than drive them. The sun wakes us up and by the time the sun sets we are tired.

We go to the shops and look at the wonderful art and craft created by those inspired by the sea.  We buy fresh caught bluefish and Spanish mackerel dredging the fillets with corn meal and flour and pan frying them for dinner.

I love that Ocracoke is a working sea village community. The people in the shops and stores are people whose lives are rooted here. The graves of their fore bearers are behind fences along the road, visible yet private.  These consecrated sites remind me that the sandy ground upon which I walk is holy. Ocracoke is not anywherebeach.com.

The periodic blast of the ferry horn lets me and everyone know that it takes some effort and planning to come or leave. Once we have driven onto the ferry for the two plus-hour ride over water from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island I am no longer in control. I cannot slow down or speed up the trip. I have placed my life in another’s hands and trust that the captain knows the wind and the waves and will bring us to Silver Lake safely.  On the trip home I am filled with an immediate sense of loss and nostalgia as the ferry pulls away from the harbor and I gradually lose sight of the island.

We like to come the week of The OcraFolk Festival which we found quite by accident one year.  Now we arrange to come that first full weekend in June.  We have been introduced to wonderful groups by the festival: The Steel Wheels, The Honey Dewdrops, Mandolin Orange to name a few. I love that folks are invited to go to the local churches and no music is scheduled for Sunday morning at 11:00.

We are almost through our week here but are already planning on coming back next year and will book our reservation as we leave.  We also wonder if, this year, we might start at new tradition: coming in the fall, perhaps October.  Ocracoke has left its mark on us.  My screen saver is a picture of the porch of the cottage we rent.  I leave with a new song, good progress on my quilt, and 3/4s of the way through one book.  We carry memories along with glass beads bought from the new bead shop and a climbing decorative frog from Island Ragpicker. Maybe we are beginning to leave a mark ourselves: Patty, the fishmonger recognized us; we have met our landlady, Trudy; we have a new friend in Peter who honored me by interviewing me giving me the opportunity to sing my songs on WOVV.  I am starting to think that our story, our relationship, with this special place is just beginning. 

With Bread: Thoughts on Bread Baking - based on a presentation I did at St. Matthew's for our Faith Formation Class - April 24, 2016

Bread Baking

Baking helps me remember my past.  My great grandmother, Fiddy who was born the year the Civil War ended, would come every Thursday and she and my Mom would bake the bread we would eat the following week. Often I was given a small amount of dough to knead into a roll but more often than not I would take that dough, go hide in a closet and eat it unbaked.

I have been baking bread since I was in college. I found that when I left home I missed the bread my Mom and Fiddy made, so when I was living in a house with an oven I began baking for my housemates. I never remember being taught how to make bread but after years of watching and being around the process I found that I just knew how to. After college I started a restaurant with some friends and I began baking in earnest.  Since then I have continued to bake for my family and for others.

Baking is a way of being with others.  I have regular customers who come to the Chapel Hill Farmers Market on Saturday and get enough bread to get them through a week. I look forward to seeing them and being a part of their life and the farmer’s market community.

The basic ingredients of bread are simple: flour, water, yeast, and salt.  You can make it sweeter by adding sugar or honey or molasses; you can make it more finely textured by adding oil; you can vary the flavor using different combinations of grains: wheat, corn, barley, rye, buckwheat, or oats; add sweet spices like cinnamon or savory spices like dill or caraway.  You can add nuts or chocolate or dried fruit.  You can add milk instead of water which will make it richer or eggs which will make it lighter.  All over the world people make bread. There are lots and lots of kinds of bread you can make.  You can follow a recipe or make one up. But, in its most basic form, bread is flour, water, yeast, and salt.  However, these ingredients need something that is not bought at a store: bread needs time and bread needs effort.  It takes some time for the yeast to become active and make the dough rise.  And it takes some labor – you must knead the dough to make it strong and stretchy. You can’t hurry it up or take short cuts.

I like making bread because I believe bread is good for you - both your body and your soul.

Sometimes the words we use for something are themselves made of ancient words and have a meaning inside of them that we don’t always know about.  Company is a word like that.  It is made of two words: com (with) and panis (bread).  So the word company means with bread.

Company can be informal - like when you are eating breakfast with your family in pajamas.  Sometimes the word company takes on a more formal nature.  Like when you have company to your house.  Or when you are company and are the guests at someone else’s house.  When you are a guest you often dress up and bring a gift. 

On Sundays, God asks us to visit him.  We do this when we go to church.  Right before communion someone or some family brings the bread and wine which will be used at communion up to the altar to be blessed.  God takes our gifts and gives them back to us.  He is in our company: with bread.  We are in his company: with bread.

One thing I have been thinking about is that this bread and wine that we bring to God are things that have been made.  Bread doesn’t grow on trees. We don’t offer handful of grain, or a sack of flour, or salt, or yeast: we bring bread; we don’t bring grapes, we bring wine. We bring something that we have made or that has been made by someone else: bread and wine.  I think this is true of our own lives as well.  God has given us our lives, but it is up to us to do something with our life.  We have been given talents and gifts and it pleases God when we develop our talents and gifts. 

The words that the priest says at the Eucharist come from the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples. Jesus took the bread that was on the table, thanked God for it, shared it with his friends and said do this in my memory.  Jesus was in the company of God and in the company of his disciples: Jesus was with bread. He asks us to remember him when we eat bread. We are to remember that God is with us, that we are with God, and we are with each other.

So when you make bread or when you eat bread remember whose company you keep and be thankful.

My remarks before the Women's Singing Circle concert 11/15/15 - November 15, 2015

(for context: The concert in celebration of our CD "Homecoming" took place shortly after the Paris bombing attach)

Homecoming:

I feel I need to acknowledge that the events of this week have put the concept of Homecoming under a certain pale.  Home itself feels threatened: homes are no longer safe nor are the neighborhood cafes and other places were friends congregate.  Millions of people are fleeing their homes no longer even dreaming of returning.

And so we dedicate this concert to those who have lost their homes or have lost their faith in home.  Today WE are fortunate that we can look forward to going home or family members coming home for Thanksgiving. 

We are nearing the close of the liturgical year, nearing the days when Mary and Joseph would return to the home of their forbearers and Mary would give birth to a son.  The Season of Advent reminds us that Jesus made a home in our troubled world.  And that he has made a more perfect home for us in the world to come.

We live in the world and in the hope of the world to come.  They are both home.  Home is home whether you are there or not.

The Homecoming service of St. Mary’s Chapel provided a reason for this singing circle to come into being.  Since 2009 we have provided music for this very special gathering of local families for whom this crossroad chapel has been a meaningful part of their lives and their understanding of themselves.  As a result of that initial invite we have met together on a monthly basis for compline, a service of prayer at the end of the day, and singing, and in the process we ourselves have become a little community.

We are not a choir.  We don’t all read music.  Sometimes the number of beats in a measure is a complete mystery.  But we bring ourselves to every song.  We find our own harmony.  We sing for the simple pleasure of the sound and we offer up our songs to God.

As we begin our concert I want to ask this blessing on our time together.  It is from the compline service and I love the words:

Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

 

The St. Matthew’s Women’s Singing Circle Celebrates a Birthday - April 27, 2014

The Women’s Singing Circle has turned five! Who knew that a group formed to provide music for the 2009 St. Mary’s Homecoming would endure, even thrive, this long? We’ve sung at every Homecoming since then; held 60 compline services; produced 2 CDs; performed concerts with Lee Smith, Sheila Kay Adams, and The Gospel Jubilators; been invited as guests at other churches and civic events; and created a song book containing over 100 songs . . . we’ve come a long way baby!! We continue to draw inspiration from the tradition of Sacred Harp- singing, for the most part, without instrumental accompaniment for our own spiritual practice rather than for a listening audience; focusing on spiritually meaningful words while creating powerful music together as a community. Our numbers range from 10 and 20 with membership coming from both within and outside of St. Matthew’s. We meet the last Sunday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in the church. I always feel that I get more out of it than I put in and every one’s presence is a blessing. My deep appreciation goes to co-founder Megan Whitted who shared the leadership of the group with me for so long; and to Cindy Stevens who provides original poetry at each gathering. A shout out to those who participated during those first months and helped form our identity: Dani Black, Marielle Prince, Ebeth Scott-Sinclair, Lise Uyanik, Claire Wright, and the late Cindy Yelton (whom we miss dearly); and especially those who were there from the start and remain active: Karen Ireland, Nancy Rosebaugh, and Ellen Weig. We often end a concert or a gathering with “How Can I Keep from Singing” because it so clearly expresses why we are drawn to sacred song, why singing and praying with others strengthens our own faith, and why a song full of harmony and heart stirs the hearts of others.

My life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentation,

I hear the real though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing,

it sounds an echo in my soul; how can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars, I hear the truth, it liveth.

And though the darkness ‘round me close, songs in then night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging.

Since Love is Lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?

In Memory of Daddy, 8/11/2011 - August 11, 2013

The Goodbye
August 11, 2011

12:30 a.m. “I’m sorry to tell you that your father has passed away.”

Did we want to come see his body?
They could only hold him for four hours according to regulation.

Tom & I rise, dress, and walk over to Mom’s taking the path through the woods.
We let ourselves in through the front door.
She, hearing the sound of us coming in, has gotten up but is disoriented calling out “Carol?” my sister’s name.
“No, it’s Mary.”
I went in, hug her, and say “Daddy’s gone.”

She dresses and we drive into town.
All the lights of Carillon are on; it feels strangely bright. They have moved his roommate to another room, set up three chairs facing the bed, and give us some privacy.

Daddy’s body lays there: still warm, pale waxy skin, mouth open grasping for his last untaken breath, eyes open.
I read the Prayer, Ministration at the Time of Death, out loud from the Book of Common Prayer
Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world;
In the name of God the Father Almighty who created you;
In the name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you;
In the name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you.
May your rest be this day in peace, and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Edward. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting, peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.

We thank the staff, the three of them, one for each of us, for they have waited for us, with us, until we come out of the room.

We had thought we would see him the next day. The nurse said he was actively dying but he looked like he was actively living – though working pretty hard at it. The family was en route: Carol, Don, Marielle, Bethany & Steve. I thought it more likely he live another year than die before his birthday, ten days hence. That last day he ate ice cream – chocolate, but declined apple sauce.

He died with an infection on his feet and a fever. He died with a skin tear on his head which would not heal. He died sometimes forgetting how to swallow. He died having lost all his words. He died in a fetal position, unable to stretch out his legs.

He lived longer than I would want to.

We loved his smile. Everyone loved his smile when it was aimed at them. He kept his hugs almost to the end. He loved music and loved to sing. We, his children and grandchildren, sang him home: as we gathered together at Mom’s, at the funeral, on the way to the grave, at the grave, at the reception. It was a comfort and we took it.

I would say:
see you tomorrow
see you Sunday
see you next week, depending on what day it was.
I would park in the parking lot, always nervous about Sunday when Jeff was not there, as primary care giver.
It was best when I arrived while he was still in the dining hall and I could help him eat; or when it was not too hot or cold and we could go outside, me pushing him in his wheel chair; or could play catch with the big ball, his hands gripping it like it was a basket ball, looking to the left, but throwing to the right.

The last communion I saw him take was at St. Matthew’s.
I was a Eucharistic Minister, Jean Vail the celebrant.
She gave the wafer to Daddy and he didn’t know what to do with it.
She took it back, dipped it in the wine, and placed it in his mouth.
I watched, barely able to contain a sudden rush of tears. So much lost.

The Dream
August 20, 2011

The family is seated, arranged in single file, in a slender boat, each of us with a paddle in our hands. We’re moving the boat through the glistening still water, mountains on either side, beautiful clouds above
Maxfield Parrish colors
I can feel Daddy’s presence but he isn’t in the boat
We’re singing a song my friend, Freddy Bradburn, had written, paddling to the beat
So give me somebody who I can hold on to
In this world we’re slipping through
Like water like sand that we hold in our hand
On ice as thin as the truth
Humongous angel wings swoop down from above, the tip of one just glancing the water

scooped Daddy right on up

Murphey School Radio Show - July 12, 2013

I was asked to be a regular performer at the Murphey School Radio Show!!! Last time I sang the show song and did a number of jingles for the sponsors of the show along with Women's Singing Circle buddy Cindy Stevens. See more about the Murphey School Radio Show from the links page.

St. Matthew's Women's Singing Circle going back into the studio - July 8, 2013

We are working on a Christmas CD which will be out December 2013. We'll be partnering up with John Plymale of Overdub Lane Studio.
I expect the singing circle to be some 20-strong when we record the 17th & 18th of this month.
Andrea Moore, Claire Wright, Megan Whitted, Lise Uyanik, and myself will have some solo pieces.
Ericka Patillo will bring her golden harp, Bob Mutter his booming djembe.
The working title: "Venite Adoremus" which goes beautifully with the art work that Ebeth Scott Sinclair is supplying: one of her gorgeous saints.

Oleander - July 8, 2013

I wrote Oleander at Ocracoke a couple of years ago. This year at the OcraFolk Festival in early June they had a songwriter circle at one of the coffee shops. I played it when it was my turn: giving it back to the island. It felt good. All that oleander, all those mourning doves . . .

Oleander

Don’t you hear the lonesome call of the mourning dove
It’s a common sound I don’t think much of
Heard it all my life, more’s the shame
I’d rather hear the warble of the whippoorwill
If I hadn’t run away I would be there still
Pleased to meet you, Oleander is my name

That’s a pretty name for a pretty face
And I’ll bet a little loving would soon erase
All the worries and troubles that are on your mind
Maybe it won’t and maybe it will
But I’ll tell you Mister my looks can kill
It would come out better for you if your love was blind, cause
Oleander could be your doom
Oleander a rosy bloom
Oleander smells so sweet
Makes a heart forget to beat

I was raised up hard and I was raised up mean
I was the prettiest baby Mama’d ever seen
But a girl that was pretty and poor filled her with dread
Now Mama believed that words had power
So she named me for a poison flower
I done for you what I could was what she said

Now I could love you till the day you die
But if I was you I’d just walk on by
Go on now – forget you ever came
It won’t get better it will only get worse
Cause I live in the shadow of my Momma’s curse
Go on now – I’ll not tell you again that
Oleander could be your doom
Oleander a rosy bloom
Oleander smells so sweet
Makes a heart forget to beat

Little Chicken Stories - February 4, 2011

I have collected my stories about our backyard chicken flock and self-published them through Lulu.com (go to links to others to get to the site from here).
I'm so excited about this - I've been working on them for about three years. It's been a totally enjoyable project. Anyone who knows me knows I always have a new chicken story to tell. They are fascinating to me.
I want to give a shout out to April Higgins for helping me by designing the book. Thanks April.

Christmas Eve 2010 - December 24, 2010

I can now put on my resume that I have stood in for Andrea Moore. Andrea was to have sung "O Holy Night" at the 9:00 Christmas Eve service at St. Matthew's but she has a strained vocal chord and is on 3 months of voice rest. So, now I will sing my "Twas on a night" which is perfect for Christmas Eve.

"Twas in the dead of winter the angels did proclaim
To sleepy-eyed poor shepherd boys who with their flocks remained
They were not praying for a sign
When they gazed up in the sky
The stars ascended brightly til heavenly hosts drew nigh

God's word of peace and brotherhood came to these gentle folk
They were not learned men, nor wise, but to them the angels spoke
They marveled then they followed
And found the sleeping babe
And told to all who'd listen of the child that'd been born to save

'Twas on a night such as this the angels did proclaim
To sleepy-eyed poor shepherd boys who with their flocks remained
Tonight I look up at the stars
The stars look down on me
The heavens still sing peace on earth to God all glory be.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Wood Thrush Returned Today - May 2, 2010

I've been waiting for the return of this song bird to our area. This morning I heard the distinctive voice: Sunday, May 2. Two years ago it was April 19. I remember because I announced it at a house concert I did that evening. So, I've been waiting with some anxiety since mid-April for the sound of the glorious song. Did you know the wood thrush achieves their sound because they have two vocal chords so they can sing harmony with themselves. (I learned this, as most everything else interesting, by listening to National Public Radio.) Below are the words of the song I wrote in his honor: Little Bird

And the little bird sings in the cool of the day

When the sun comes up And the sun goes down

He’s got happy things to say

And the little bird sings from the highest tree

Hidden in the leaves of the canopy

Doesn’t wanna be seen

When my head’s brought low by this world of woe

And trouble’s leaning on my door

I marvel at the simple joy that hearing can restore

When the little bird sings in the cool of the day

When the sun comes up And the sun goes down

He’s got happy things to say

And the little bird sings I cannot stay

I come in the spring and I leave in the fall

And it’s always been this way

But the little bird sings a promise true

When the jessamen blooms I’ll be coming home soon

And will sing a song for you

When the nights are long and the wind blows cold

And the days are gray and drear

I hold onto the hope of spring

When the wood thrush reappears

And the little bird will sing in the cool of the day

When the sun comes up And the sun goes down

He’s got happy things to say

The St. Matthew's Women's Singing Circle - January 9, 2010

The St. Matthew's Womens Singing Circle began in 2009 when Megan Whitted, the music director of St. Matthew's, and I began to prepare for a the annual homecoming service of St. Mary's Chapel. We realized very quickly that the group that formed was a keeper! We meet monthly for a compline serivce (a service of evening prayer) and unaccompanied singing. We sing with no music in front of us - only words. We create our own harmonies based on the voices present. We add readings of literature which seem to provide context for many of the hymns and spirituals since we are drawn to music from the 19th century south. Lee Smith and Charles Fraizer are favorite authors since much of their writing seemed to be inspired by song.
We sing in sacred space and find ourselves strengthened and enriched by lifting our voices, as community in song.
Although the Circle is more about the process than performance - we have had the opportunity to share audiences both in programs and within services, such as memorial services.

just so you know I have some if not award winning songs, some honorable mention songs - February 27, 2009

Here's my all-star list:
1. 3rd Place in the 2012 NCSC Song Contest for the songs "Once I Held in High Regard" and "a half a dozen things."

2. Honorable Mention in the 2011 NCSC Song Contest for the songs "Jupiter & Venus' and "Oleander.'

3. "Cassiopeia" to be included in a compilation CD for the NC BioFuel Music Project.

4. Finalist in the 2008 NC Songwriters Coop Song Contest for the songs "Cotton" & "Hallelujah"

5. Finalist in the 2005 NC Songwriters Coop Song Contest for the songs "Flamingos" & "Cassiopeia"

6. Finalist in the 2004 Hank Williams Flat Rock Music Festival for the song "I Got a Mind to Love You"

7. Finalist in the 2004 Cats Cradle Song Contest for the songs "Mileposts", "
Sadie, Sadie Hawkins Day" & "Tell Me Why"

8. Honorable Mention in the 2003 NC Songwriters Coop Song Contest for the songs "Mileposts" & "Tell Me Why"

8. Alternate Finalist in the 2003 Cats Cradle Songwriters Contest for the songs "North Star", "Kingdoms Rise", & "Resting Up"

A Chicken Story: Matters of LIfe & Death - September 26, 2008

I was looking at the traffic to my website yesterday and found out there is a percentage of people who don't know me that get to my site because of a search for chicken pictures. So I guess I'll put out a little more feed for the chicken lovers of the world and post the following story!
I have been writing little stories about my chickens for the last year or so. Some of you may have noticed the pictures I have on this site of some of them. I have now published a book of stories called Little Chicken Stories which you may order simply by emailing me from this site. The following is one of the chapters.

Matters of Life & Death by Mary Rocap

The summer of 2007 in the Piedmont of North Carolina was hot and dry. The average high was 96; the highest high was 105. August was the hottest and second driest month on record at the Raleigh Durham Airport (the official weather data collection spot in our area). Dogwoods were turning brown; poplars were losing yellowed leaves. The local growers of the Hillsborough Farmers Market had given up irrigating since no amount of watering seemed to quench the thirst of the soil and their ponds were getting low. People asked politely about their neighbor’s wells.

The end of summer was also when our friend Greg was trying to figure out why he had no energy and would shake with cold while running a temperature. Turned out he had leukemia. He called me from the hospital just before going into a week of chemotherapy saying he and his wife Carol were confident they could beat this. One week later he was dead – a catastrophic reaction, from which he could not, did not recover.

The heat stressed everybody and it stressed our hens; they started laying fewer eggs as if to say “Just be thankful we made it through another day.” A day they had spent with their panting beaks open, seeking the shade and relative cool of the woods surrounding our home. Why one of our hens would decide to sit on a clutch during this hot spell is beyond me. But sit she did in the coop where temperatures surely were 10 degrees above the actual. She had laid claim to eight eggs.

After three weeks of her sitting, looking mean, and poophing out when approached, there was movement and a little head shyly peeking out from her breast where she sat on her nest. By the end of the day there were three little fluff balls, a buff and two with shades of gray coloration. The next day she left her nest abandoning the five remaining eggs, and took her little brood down the plank to the fenced area under the coop. We rejoiced at her accomplishment in the face of such adverse conditions.

That evening we caused a complete panic as Tom decided to it was time to confine an increasingly pesky rooster. There was chaos and pandemonium. The little chicks fled through the fence, but Momma was trapped. Tom and my attentions were completely focused on the rooster and so didn’t appreciate the desperate situation we had created for Momma. She eventually got herself over the 6-foot fence and shot like a bat from hell through the woods in hot pursuit of her babes.

At that point the situation we had created sunk in and we went into search and rescue mode. We listened for peeps – couldn’t hear any; walked slowly through the woods – didn’t see any. It was an hour ‘til dusk and time was short.

Alas, we did not find them. We delayed closing up the birds ‘til well after dark hoping they would return. We felt like idiots.

This was the within days of receiving word of Greg’s death. At our very late dinner Tom prayed “Thy will be done.” to which I involuntarily responded “No.” I wasn’t ready for another dose of God’s will.

The next morning I went out looking for Momma and her chicks. I went to the hen house and was surprised to find one of the five remaining eggs had a crack in it. I picked it up and it peeped! Completely taken aback I squeezed it slightly and it peeped again. Who knew a chick peeped before hatching? Who knew that eggs cool to the touch, abandoned a whole day would be viable?

I picked up all five eggs and hurried inside making a little nest in a basket and setting it under the heat lamp that was warming our 10-day old mail-order chicks housed in a big box in our living room. I called work and said I would be late, called my Mom & Dad to see if they wanted to come over and watch with me, and called Tom with the good news.

In fact, while the sound of the peep was good news I learned it takes some time and effort for a chick to hatch. The egg shutters and shakes. Eventually more of the shell opened and we could see a little beak with its egg tooth and some of the body. The whole body pulsed like a little heart, straining against the constraints of the shell. Surprisingly, the membrane seemed to pose the most difficulty, tearing separately from the breaking of the shell. I called my neighbor Joy who has a lot more experience in these matters and she counseled against helping the chick out of the shell (which I was inclined to do). She said it is the effort of the chick against the shell that makes the chick ready to stand after hatching.

Realizing this is a solitary task for the chick I reluctantly left for work. Mom said she would check in on the progress. At 12:30 she reported that we had the cutest little fluffy buff chick.

What good and amazing news!

When I got home late afternoon, wonder-of-wonders, Momma was back with her three little ones. We introduced her new one to her and she accepted it with solemnity.

I know that human life, the life of my friend Greg, is not comparable to the lives of my little birds. He was a close friend, my best song critic, a wise and compassionate person. I miss him. Yet I know that God loves all of his creation – all creatures great and small. It is written that God knows when every sparrow falls (“Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight” Luke 12:6) and those words resonate in me. I love the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow” with its colliery line “and I know he cares for me” made famous by Ethel Waters. And in truth, the miraculous life of these little birds has been some comfort.

Life is a mystery. In the end we don’t know what death is or what purpose it serves. It pleases me that Momma and her chicks’ lives were spared; it hurts that Greg’s life was taken and that hurt will stay hurt a long time. “The Lord giveth, the Lord takest away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) I have to try to offer both the rejoicing and the mourning to God and claim, by faith, that death is not the end, but a new beginning. Life will have the last word, not death.

And so, journey on Greg.

Tribute fo Greg Taylor - October 15, 2007

I want to pay tribute to a close friend, Greg Taylor, who died Sunday, September 2. Greg was a person whose counsel I sought and friendship I treasured.
We were in a songwriting circle and he always had positive and insightful suggestions. We also worked together at Whole Foods and Wellspring Distributors, shared performances, and served together on the board of the NC Songwriters Coop. I last saw him at the Eno Festival in July and last talked to him from the hospital. He had been admitted for treatment of recently diagnosed leukemia.
Condolences go out to his wife, Carol, and everyone who knew him. His presence in our lives will be greatly missed.
Go in peace Greg and may your soul rise in glory.

I've got a picture of Greg in my photo section. His website is www.gregtaylormusic.com -- his album All in My Hands is available for purchase from there. It would mean a lot to Carol if you bought one.

Mica - May 21, 2007

A myth-song about the mineral mica. I was inspired by Galadrielle's Song. from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - A part of that is quoted making up the last verse of my song.

Ever was but now I am
And chose I mortal form
To taste the apple and the pear
To feel the sun and storm
Crossed eternal starry sea
The never ending night
To rest upon the sandy shore
And view the morning light

One hundred years passed as a day
And then I felt bereft
And looked above a starry hosts
And longed for what I’d left
Three messengers had I retained
Three messengers of flight
Falcon, moth, and turtle dove
“Fly high into the night”

One thousand years passed as a day
And one by one they came
Weary travelers from afar
All with a sad refrain
“Foolish Mica, ever bright
Why did you have to roam?
You stayed too long, and were forgot
So far away from home”

Then I turned my face from them
And toward the setting sun
Still and silent like a stone
And stone I did become
Ten thousand years of sun and storm
Crushed me to sparking dust
Three winged friends spread my remains
O’er all the earth’s hard crust

"And if of ships I now should sing
What ship would come to me?
What ship would bear me ever back
Across so wide a sea?"

copyright 2006

A Plausible Explanation for the Redbud - May 21, 2007

Here is my made-up myth-song for why the redbud flower is so obviously purple:

Where the meadow meets the wood
A dark limbed tree does grow
And in the springtime breezes
Redbud blossoms blow
I see them on the road sides
On the edges of the lane
Between the tended and the wild
The tangled and the tame
But why it’s called a redbud
I sure would like to know
There is no ruby in its blush
Saying don't make it so

When the redbud was first named
It bloomed a scarlet true
But March he was a chilly wind
Tinged with icy blue
No lovlier a vision;
The colors did enchant
Indigo and crimson
Birthed a miscreant
And thus the wild bred blossom
Takes on a purple hue
In memory of when wind met flower
And flower said I love you
And flower said I love you

copyright 2006

Recording Begun - March 24, 2007

Well, "Hallelujah! Amen." has officially begun. I was in Overdub Studio two days this week and got a lot of great singing done with my girls and Lise Uyanik. For those of you who know Lise and my repertoire I am happy to say that we recorded Travelin' Shoes and O, Freedom. We consider these two songs signature songs and have performed countless times over a span of three decades. It is a great feeling to have documented this material.
None of the songs on this CD will be originals and in fact most were written in the 18th century.

Southern Artistry - August 11, 2006

I'm now listed in the online resource "Southern Artistry" (go to the link section for a direct link to this site).
Isn't that neat?

Bo Lozoff Backing Vocals - July 13, 2006

Just came back from a great recording session at Overdub Studio with Bo Lozoff and his new project. The very talented John Plymale was at the controls. Lise Uyanik, Shannon Dancy, and I were the female vocalists. David Kramer, Shannon's boyfriend Rick, and Will McFarlane (sporting a Scotish kilt I must add) were the male vocalists. We all stood around a central mic and did these wonderful sing-a-long kind of choruses. I also did two songs just with Will. The CD will be coming out in the fall - November 4 (it's on my calendar for the release concert at The Carrboro ArtCenter). I think it is going to be a good CD when finished - check it out later.

Our Own Chickens - April 17, 2006

We bought our own baby chicks and they arrived Easter Monday, April 17 - how appropriate for new life. 37 of the little guys and gals came in the mail peeping away.
Tom and I almost feel like proud parents!

Two Silly Jokes - March 12, 2006

How do you catch a unique rabbit?
Unique up on it.

How do you catch a tame rabbit?
Tame way, unique up on it.

A Quilting Artist Statement - March 6, 2006

I have been quilting since I was in college. I needed a bedspread; I had material so I decided to make a quilt. No one taught me. I just did it. I used the Grandmother’s Churn Dasher Pattern. Well, that was over 30 years ago. I found I love making quilts. In general, I like to work small; 45x60 seems to be a good size. I like a rectangular shape. I like a vertical line. I like fabric that has some weight to it; color that has depth or sheen. I like to decorate a traditional pattern with buttons, sequins, or embroidery. Quilts, I have found, are a good use for earrings that have lost their mate. I like to make the plain fancy, the serviceable beautiful. My approach to quilt making is not the different from my approach to music. I draw from the past but I make it my own. There is a certain joy in piecing together colors to make a pattern – a quilt top. But the act of quilting enhances every ordinary or exquisite top. The primary element in quilting is time. There is a commitment from me to devote the in and out movement of my fingers, countless stitches and knots to take a top and turn it into a quilt. I machine piece but I hand quilt and to me that is what makes the work come alive. My signature, my breath, is in every stitch. Another element of my work is that I use what I have at hand. I do not plan a pattern and then go to the store and buy the needed fabrics. I start with what I have, what I’ve collected, what I’ve been given over the years. Then if necessary I’ll buy what is missing. In this sense I feel I stay true to the thrifty nature of the craft. It is true that quilting is a craft. The product serves a purpose. But the product is also a piece of art drawing the eye back again and again to the beauty of the work. This is what I try to do: to make a thing of beauty to be used and enjoyed for years to come.

On Tour with the UNC Women's Glee Club - January 21, 2006

Sue Klausmeyer, the conductor of the UNC Women's Glee Club bestowed upon me a a great honor: an invitation to tour with the UNC Combined Glee Clubs on their Winter Tour this year. We went Charlotte, Charleston, Gastonia, and Asheboro Thursday January 5 through Monday January 9.
It was a great experience. I really enjoyed being a part of the program and also hearing their wonderful music. And, I got a song out of the experience. Driving through the countryside I was struck by all the fields of cotton. So I wrote a song about cotton. Did you know that the cotton blossom is white the first day of its bloom but by the second day it has turned red; the third day it falls off the plant. Such is life . . .
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