Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Beloved Communities

The lucky ducks!
Last Saturday there were two significant Seyfried events, my book launch party in the afternoon, and a concert featuring Sheridan in the evening. Both events were the culmination of a lot of effort. I have been working on my fourth book of essays, In Discovery, for many months. Sher has been diligently practicing piano for the Rubin Memorial Concert at Kohelet Yeshiva High School, where he is the music teacher.

In both cases, we have labored more or less alone, and have been hopeful about, but not sure of, the finished products. Many were the nights when I would be at the dining room table, scribbling my stories, while in the next room Sheridan was going over his solo pieces for the concert—New Age music by George Winston, David Lanz, and Philip Aaberg.

At last, the book was published, and the concert program was ready. March 9th was the magic date for twin celebrations. My dear friends Bev and Bob opened their lovely home for the book party. Rose, Julie and Julie’s boyfriend Gil were here from New York City. Patrick got off work and came over from Downingtown. I greeted many friends as well, and signed and sold dozens of books. I had the opportunity to read four stories aloud to the assembled group, and for the first time heard laughter and applause for these new works.

Later that night, Steve and I traveled to the Main Line for the concert. Sheridan was warmly introduced by the Rabbi, and did a fine job of playing. Our son introduced each work with thoughtful comments about his eight years of teaching, and being part of this close-knit Orthodox Jewish community-- “Things I’ve learned at Kohelet...” connecting each observation to the musical composition to come. At the end, he played violin, and was joined by some of his students and some talented alums of the school for a really fun bluegrass set. We were very proud of the obvious affection everyone there has for Sher, and their appreciation of both his talent, and his dedication to their children.

Musicians and writers spend countless hours working on their own, practicing their instruments, or moving sentences and paragraphs around. To have the chance to share the fruits of their labors with others is pure joy, especially when the audiences are people they know well, and care about deeply. Sheridan and I were surrounded by love last Saturday, and we both understood how wonderful those experiences were.

Beloved communities come in all shapes and sizes. They gather in times of happiness, and sorrow. They support each other. They delight in each other. In a tough world, we all need a community around us…church, school, neighborhood. I pray that everyone has a day like Saturday in their lives, when their beloved community surrounds them and embraces them. And I pray we can form communities like that, wherever we are and wherever life takes us. Everybody needs a cheerleader sometimes. Let’s be that cheerleader for one another.

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