My father used to sing a song that would make me sad as a child.
I loved to sit on his knee and ask him to sing to me, and this particular song was about ‘leaving the world behind’. It is a beautiful song with beautiful sentiments, including, ‘I’ll leave the moon above to those in love when I leave the world behind.’ The song was written in 1915 by Irving Berlin, and was sung by Al Jolson among many others. The song explains how most people, not being rich in this world’s goods, still have a great wealth to leave behind to others to enjoy, and it is the wealth of life itself and the beauties of this world.
I’ll leave the night time to the dreamers
I’ll leave the songbirds to the blind
I’ll leave the moon above to those in love
When I leave the world behind.
The life of every person is a journey and a struggle. We have so much to learn and so much to negotiate and so much to endure. Life treats us harshly at times, and we make our own mistakes. But through it all we are trying to get there, to reach the promised land of our own fulfilment in life. In old age we look back, and as my mother once said to me, only then do we begin to understand what life is all about.
But at some point in life’s journey we meet a day of realisation, when we no longer need to feel victims of this world’s vagaries, but instead we take up the mantle of our own personal responsibility. From that moment onwards we are the drivers of our life. We take charge of ourselves, and although we cannot control everything – and wouldn’t want to – we can live a ‘switched on’ existence in this world.
Jesus, in the season of Advent, tells us to ‘stay awake’: To be alert to the journey of your own life: To be the captain of your own soul: To know where you are going, and to travel wisely: And in the evening of our days, to take children on our knee and to sing to them the song of life.
We are living examples and models to our children. We are not perfect, but we learned how to be good and loving and forgiving, of ourselves and of others. My mother and my father are still powerful examples to me, and still today I can see myself upon my father’s knee, and hear his lovely voice singing, ‘I’ll leave the moon above to those in love when I leave the world behind.’
27 November 2022