Ashokan Farewell was composed by Jay Unger, who noted, “I sometimes introduce it as, “a Scottish lament written by a Jewish guy from the Bronx.” You know the song; it was said to be the theme song of Ken Burn’s Civil War Series. It is so deeply embedded in my psyche that if I could play the violin, I wouldn’t need sheet music.
Ashokan Farewell was the Prelude. The service at Christ Church in Easton was a celebration of the life of Carol Callaghan. Carol had served as a Deacon at Christ Church for twelve years. The song, beginning a celebration of Carol’s life, always moves me to answer a question—more on that later.
Love was the theme in music, words and images of the mind—images of Carol being Carol. Love was manifest in the remembrance. Carol, as Father Bill Ortt noted, loved to laugh. Marty and I recalled her lovingly from a trip we shared to the Holy Land.
Much was said—Carol’s life evoked rich memories. And the synthesis of her life took the hundreds that came to celebrate her life to the Gospel according to John, “And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not.” John 1:5
The prelude and then the remembrances jolted my mind back to the Beginning—God or slime? We all have a worldview, a leap of faith, about where life begins and ends. As I listened to the music, images came to mind. If there are angels Carol Callahan was/is one of them. And Love manifest is all the proof I need.
There is a gospel hymn that the celebrants sang, “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” and its chorus captured Carol and the moment.
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me,
I will hold your people in my heart.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.