We are all Pilgrims.
And, each of us has to make the pilgrimage in our own way loaded with our own unique blessings and burdens.
Though we may walk with no visible companions no one truly walks alone.
For shadowing your footsteps are shades and ghosts.
The shade of the wide eyed child you were staring up at the infinitely promising night sky.
The shade of the teenager who would never be so foolish as to take the wrong turns made by those who thought themselves wiser because they were older.
The ghost of the daredevil seven year old, always out in front of you, who went too far ahead one day, laughing as he ran into the road – never making it to the other side.
The ghosts of your father and mother smiling awkwardly for the wedding photographer with faith in the unknown future bright in their eyes.
The ghosts of friends and lovers who are lost to you now for reasons you can only guess at or can’t face.
The shade of the person you were yesterday and the shade of the person you are in the process of becoming.
The ghost of the one you just couldn’t save though you tried with all your might.
And, cresting a hill, drawing breath to look at the view, you might for a fleeting moment catch a glimpse of one of those shades or ghosts and find the tears, of joy or deep regret, falling unbidden.
Or lulled by the rhythm of the wheels of a Bus to St Cloud with the snow falling around like a silent prayer you might be almost sure that face in the crowd is the face that slipped out of view so long ago that’s been haunting your dreams for so many years.
A face you’d almost, almost, given up hope of ever seeing again.
Oh,I was sure it was you.
Sure it was you.
Oh, it’s strange but it’s true.
And, I hate you so.
And, I love you so.
But I miss you most.
With the snow falling all around like a silent prayer.
Standing, blinking, as the snow falls you wonder about the shades and the ghosts.
Could you have done more?
How did you let them just slip away?
We think of those who disappeared from our lives as lost but maybe they found what they were seeking and it is us who are lost.
We all live and breathe and hope in Mystery.
We all make choices we wish we could travel back in time to change.
And, for those who are lost, not least ourselves, sometimes there is nothing else but to fall on your knees and weep and hope that some stronger arm might lift you up.
Lift you up.
For the snow is sure to fall.
Sure to fall,
Sometimes bringing a gleaming light to the surrounding darkness.
Sometimes a shining manna from heaven.
Sometimes a shroud falling softly all around.
Falling softly on the dark waves.
Falling softly on the lonely churchyards.
Falling softly on the crooked crosses and headstones.
Falling softly on the barren thorns.
Falling upon all the living and the dead.
Just a face in the crowd.
And its strange but it’s true.
Strange but it’s true.
And I hate you so.
And I love you so.
But I miss you most.
I was sure, sure, it was you.
With the snow falling all around.
Gretchen Peters writes songs distinguished by their emotional intelligence.
Her songs seem like glimpses into lives we all might have led or encountered.
She has a particular gift for writing songs featuring telling but not overloaded details so that the listener inevitably fleshes out the narratives in line with their own stories making the experience all the richer.
All her Albums have songs which will live with you.
The first version above is to be found on her 1996 debut Record, ‘The Secret of Life’.
The second version, a mature reconsideration of her signature song, is from 2011 and features Barry Walsh on Keyboards.
The third version comes from 2016 at the Celtic Connections Music Festival. Jerry Douglas, the Dobro King, provides the falling snow.