It was a lovely evening. The day’s heat had eased to a comfortable level and the crowd gathered around the stage was relaxed, enjoying a free concert and time with friends and/or family. Those with foresight sat comfortably in a sea of lawn chairs. Others sprawled on the lawn and we sat on a nearby curb. The musicians pumped their “alternative folk”‘ music through the air, making casual conversation impossible.
It was a perfect opportunity to people watch. My eyes wandered through the crowd, watching people interact, imagining their comments and relationships. The audience swayed to the music, tapping time with their sandaled feet, smiling, laughing. Young children swirled and twirled safe in the circle of their families, delighting in the music and movement. To the side of the stage a sign language interpreter fluidly signed the lyrics to a small group before her. Her hands were poetry in motion, language made visible, a silent song in the air.
Across the way a splash of color drew my eye. A young boy, perhaps 7 years old, with a bright red shirt and neon green and yellow shoes knelt on the grass. In his arms he held a young child, maybe 2 or 3, whose head rested on his shoulder. The boy was kneeling tall, struggling to hold the child, as he was large enough that he overfilled the boy’s lap. With one hand he clasped the child to him and with the other, over and over again, he gently stroked the younger child’s back. Comforting, soothing. His hands were poetry in motion, language made visible, a silent love song in the air.
Some time later, I looked back and the red-shirted boy no longer held the child. Instead, the boy was kneeling on the grass with his arms wide and welcoming, laughing and beckoning. The grinning child faced him across the expanse of grass then ran toward him and threw himself in his arms. They both toppled backward, a tangle of limbs, love and simple joy in a summer evening filled with music.
Look, please, look to the children
The children they know
In their eyes are the answers we seek
And their hearts feel the way to go
Look, please look to the children
They know more than we
How it feels in this world to be free
Free to love and be loved by all…
(Words and Music by Chuck Mangione
Copyright © 1971 Gates Music, Inc.)