Friday, August 10, 2018

A Recycled Prayer for Ordinary People

Norm Siegel, The Old Man, Dave Drayer, Andy Cohen, Cheryl Niemo, and Andy Andrick  lead the audience of the mini-folk festival Jest Plain Folk--Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things in singing Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land.

Six years ago it poured rain here in McHenry County.  It came down in buckets in what was a very soggy month.  That put a crimp in plans for an evening mini folk festival we planned for the grounds of what was then calledthe Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry and is now known as Tree of Life UU Congregation..  Undeterred, we moved the program into the sanctuary and a little more than 50 folk slogged through the storm anyway.
The program, grandiosely named Just Plain Folk—Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things, was a benefit for our Compassion4Campers program for homeless PADS clients and despite the gloomy weather raised enough money to keep it afloat through the rest of the season until the seasonal church-based overnight shelters resumed operations in October.  By the way that program is now in its ninth year of operation and is humming along nicely serving an often abused and neglected homeless population.
The program included Appalachian and early country music by The Siblings featuring singer Cheryl Niemo, Dave Drayer on the stand-up bull fiddle and Andy Andrick on guitar, Chicago folk scene vet Norman “Mad Dwag” Siegel who did a set heavy on singer-songwriter material from the 60’s, and Memphis based traditional blues picker Andy Cohen who headlined with a tight hour set that was a virtual clinic on great guitar picking and roots blues.
Then with all of the musicians on stage and the audience on its feet we closed with a Centennial birth year salute to Woody Guthrie by singing This Land is Your Land with all of the subversive, seldom sung verses.
At the beginning of the evening, I snuck in one of my poems.  Yeah, I know it wasn’t fair, but I was up there as emcee and had the microphone. The piece was written for the occasion and the theme of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
To tell you the truth, I had forgotten I wrote it until I stumbled on an old post about the event.  It struck me, he said immodestly, as not half bad.  And as a challenge.

Caught in the act of committing poetry.

My Prayer Tonight
A Poem for Just Plain Folk—Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things
August 9, 2012

Let me be worthy of those
whose names have been forgotten.

Those who stood up,
            stood out
            and stood down.

Those whose hands bled,
            brows sweated
            and backs bent.

Those who nurtured,
            and loved without question.

Those who questioned,          
            and cared.

Those who offered hands up,
            hand outs,
            and hands on deck when it mattered.

Those who saw far,
            saw clearly
            and saw what need be done.

Those who sang,
            who danced,
            and laughed despite it all.

Those of faith,
            free thought,
            and far horizons.

Oh, Greater Mystery,
            make me worthy of them all.

—Patrick Murfin

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