Those of you who grew up in the sixties and seventies, will probably recall a song that was prevalent during those years. It was made famous by Dionne Warwick, i.e., What’s it all about, Alfie? And since that time, artists like Barbara Streisand, Cher and Whitney Houston have included it on their award winning albums.
So, if we set “Alfie” aside, the question remains…what’s it all about?
Here are the lyrics to the song:
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie
Then I guess it is wise to be cruel
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie
I know there’s something much more,
Something even non-believers can believe in
I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie
The questions raised in this song are as valid and soul searching now as they were 40-50 years ago.
Is it just for the moment we live? Does only today matter? What about the legacy we leave for future generations?
Are we meant to take more than we give or are we meant to be kind? Do words matter? Do actions matter? Perhaps what we say and what we do, what others say and what others do, is having an accumulated impact on our “tomorrows”…as a person and as a nation and as a world community.
If only fools are kind, then I guess it is wise to be cruel? Seriously? Seriously? How do we respond to shallow, self-centered, self-gratifying people?
And if life belongs only to the strong, what will you lend on an old golden rule? Aren’t we supposed to be a people, a nation, a global community that cares the poor, the marginalized, the ostracized, the stranger, the orphan? Or are these just the nice words of all major religions of the world?
I know there’s something more, something even non-believers can believe in…love, yes love… Does my life, does your life, witness to compassion, justice, kindness, truth? What is the echo of the legacy we are creating for the future generations of our world?
When you walk, let your heart lead the way…..
Who are we? Who are we becoming? Laurie MacCaskill says that the word “Alfie” is an old English word meaning sage or wise. My immediate reaction is “if only”. If only we lived as if we were wise. If only we lived as if “sticks, and stones, AND WORDS” hurt. The reality is that our sticks and stones have just become more destructive, more powerful, more technological. And yes, our words do hurt. If only what we say we believe in, is reflected in our daily living. If only we saw compassion and justice, kindness and truth, not as options, but as necessities.
The Dalai Lama says it this way: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Let me share 3 very brief experiences this past week and even today. 1- I’m in the midst of writing this when a woman comes in and shares with me that she has the picture of an HIV child whom she met in Feb. on her stand in her living room. Her life was changed that day- forever. The child became a part of her heart and her family. 2- Last week, someone sent an email with a photo of google earth’s pic of our facility in Nica and said, “I miss my/other home”. 3- yesterday, I was messaged by a Nicaraguan person, praying that she hopes our Mission family is safe from recent events here in our country. THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT, ALFIE!
As a point of reference, this past Saturday, my Congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Hope, was meeting in preparation for our Chapter coming up in April. Some of the questions that surfaced, among many, were “What is legacy? What is it we wish to leave as Dominican Sisters of Hope? What and how are we engaged in the transforming power of HOPE?’ And of course, multiple other layers of discernment and reflection.
As I sat live streaming this meeting which I could not attend in person, I was struck by how each of you reading this, are members of HOPE…you are called to be that transforming power of HOPE with me and my Congregation. You are the living witnesses of the Gospel message (or Torah, or Qumran or whatever it is that is sacred to you). Then, as this meeting is unfolding, 11 Jewish brothers and sisters were murdered. I do believe we are all called to reflect on “how we are called to be the transforming power of HOPE”.
Let me close with an “ALFIE” moment last night. The national news had a story about how the Muslim community stands beside the Jewish members of their community in Pittsburgh. They stated…”tell us what you need. Tell us…if you need money, tell us. If you need us to be at the doors of your synagogue, tell us”. In other words, the human community of compassion and kindness, truth and justice…that’s what it’s all about Alfie.