There is a day

on

A visit to Petit-Château is a kind of analogy for the creative process. I really never know what will happen on any given visit, and each afternoon reveals a unique experience. Sarah and I talk about this often, as we sit on the bench against the brick wall and wonder if today anyone will join us for poetry and songwriting.

 

I wonder if anyone would notice if we didn’t come? we have mused. I think they would.

 

Lately, we have begun the sessions by singing one of the refugee songs after posting our paper on the wall. With the blank slate just waiting for words, we sing together. Music is magical, and like magic it seems to draw people from spaces that seemed empty only moments before.

 

A few weeks ago, we sat singing and were soon joined by a two men, one younger and one older. The younger man explained that his companion did not speak much English.

 

Sarah explained that we were here to write poetry and a song and invited him to share something, anything he wished.

 

I don’t have anything to say today, he told us. Maybe next week I can bring something I prepare.

 

Something I so admire about Sarah is that she is able to gently draw words and ideas from the residents of the center.

 

But what you have just said is already a poem, she responded and walked over to the paper.

 

Sometimes, there is a day when there is nothing I can say, she wrote. She turned to the young man and said, see, you do have something to say. He continued to share that ideas, and she wrote them down, drawing them forth from him gently and with support and encouragement. Before long, we had a verse and then a chorus was born from the idea of a single day bringing hope.

 

Sometimes, there is a day

When there is nothing I can say

Sometimes we can give a message from the heart

Because life is the love and love is the life

Because life is really short, I speak when I can

Listen to what I have to say

 

There is a day, there is a day

 

The written words have life and meaning, but they change as soon as they are lifted into song. I think our bodies were meant to sing and to feel the words that need changing in order to roll more fluidly and comfortably from the tongue.

 

The verse evolved as we sang. Phrases were shortened, and words changed.

 

Sometimes, there is a day

When there is nothing I can say

Sometimes we can give get a message from the heart

Because life is the love and love is the life

Because life is really short, [so] I speak when I can

Listen to what I have to say

 

There is a day, there is a day

 

To the refrain we added the question, Could it be today? followed by a repeat of the first line, There is a day

 

As often happens with writing a song, I think I am going to sing one phrase but then my body has a different idea. I don’t know if it is my mind, my tongue, or something entirely unique—a creative voice that speaks—but there is some entity within me that helps to reveal the song.

 

At first, I thought to add, “It might not be today.” I wrote this down on the paper. However, when I went to sing, without even meaning to I sang a variation of this phrase that changed the entire meaning of the song from something less hopeful to the realm of possibility.

 

It might not be today became Could it be today?

 

Other people began to join us, reticent at first because they did not speak English. We also invite people to write in their native tongue, and then we have lively debates and discussions over translations into English, French, Nederlands. We like to keep words from all of the languages in the songs so that the song itself becomes a mix of culture as diverse as the center and the city in which it sits.

 

Soon, we had translated the refrain into several languages and a second verse was written in by a young woman from Africa. She was shy at first, so I began strumming the ukulele in the hopes that she might try singing. And she did. She sang beautifully and with heart and joy.

 

Others joined us, and I passed around my little bag of rhythm instruments for people to shake as we sang.

 

Once again, a quiet beginning with Sarah and I sitting on a bench had become a community of creation, poetry, song, laughter, and joy. I left the center, buoyed by hope and happiness.

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