The recent events at Virginia Tech, have had me reminiscing about my own college days. We were in the middle of a long and unpopular war (sound familiar?), and the tides of social change were teeming all around us. Eighteen year olds weren’t yet allowed to vote their minds, but they were encouraged to go shoot at people they didn’t even know, just because someone else said so.

I used to hang around with a small, eclectic group of artists. One of the guys in the group had a habit of getting to know you, then when he felt he had captured your essence, he would assign you a song that represented what he saw. Everyone had a different song.

One lady was assigned “Maggie May” (by Rod Stewart), because she always had a steady stream of guys in and out of her life. (I’m not sure she enjoyed the analogy.) While another friend had been given “War” (by Edwin Starr), because of his anger at losing his older brother in Vietnam. Later, … I think his song was changed to “Fire & Rain” (by James Taylor). He had begun his healing, and could start to move on in his life.

When it came time for my friend to give me my song, I was surprised that he had picked one of my favorite song writers, even though he wasn’t aware of that fact at the time. He gave me “What’s Goin On” by Marvin Gaye. I hadn’t really paid attention to the words prior to this christening, but the more I listened, the more I understood what he saw.

Years later, when I heard the news on my car radio, of Marvin Gaye’s shooting death at the hands of his father, I found myself driving down the highway with tears streaming down my face. His prophetic words echoed in my mind, “Father, father, We don’t need to escalate. You see, war is not the answer, For only love can conquer hate.”

I thought then, as I still do, that hatred doesn’t justify or solve anything. It only breeds more darkness and negativity, into a world already overloaded with misunderstanding and heartache. Whether this hatred happens a thousand miles away, … or in our own backyard.

I wish there were some way to reach out to those who have been devastated by the events played out in Blacksburg, VA. I’d like to give you your song, to comfort you in your time of turmoil. I’d give you a song that helped me once, at a time when nothing around me made sense, and all I had left was … why?

Years ago, my best friend had a terminal disease, that took him fairly quickly. I was there the day he died, and when it was all over, I had to get out of the room … but I didn’t know where to go. I wandered down the hospital hall, and found myself in a small, multi-denominational chapel. It was quiet & candlelit, and I just needed to sit by myself for awhile.

After a few moments of wrestling with all of my emotions surrounding the loss of someone I loved, I looked up and noticed that a beam of sunlight was just coming across a stained glass window of Mother Mary. At that moment, I heard the music as clearly as if they were playing it in the same room, and it’s that song I wish to give to you. “Let It Be” (by The Beatles).

As I watched the memorial services, I noticed people often turn to a poem, when they want to express their deepest emotions. As a poet, I wish to offer you what comfort I can.

I am a student of life and, over the years, I’ve come to believe in reincarnation. It’s the only answer I’ve encountered, that truly completes the picture. We can’t possibly learn all the “lessons of life” in just one go ’round, so I’m convinced we’re on a much longer journey, … together.

So whether it’s in Heaven, or back here on Earth, don’t worry, we’ll be seeing our loved ones smiling faces again. It’s just, we’ll have to wait for awhile, … and that’s what makes us cry.



When death enters as a whisper or roar,

Don’t weep as though I’d be there no more.

I have merely passed onward to learn

All the lessons I’m seeking around each new turn.

And if your sorrow is too heavy to hold,

Remember, we’ll meet again on our soul’s road.

We’ll share once again in some future time,

Sharing and caring just ripen like wine.

So don’t let your sorrow subject you to strife,

It’s the way of life and death, … and life.

Copyright 2006 B. MacNichol / All Rights Reserved


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