POST 19: COPACABANA (At the Copa) (REMIX)
“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.” Mother Teresa
In 1931, Mother T. taught at an all girl’s school that was surrounded by a slum called Moti Jhil, filled with poor and starving people. She spent many of her Saturdays ministering to the residents of Moti Jhil. This was her life for fifteen years, teaching and seeing this sea of desperation beyond.
So the seeds of Mother T.’s work among the poorest of the poor were fermenting at the same time, a world away, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, after filling his heart with jazz, blues and black spirituals, would return to Germany to teach at the University of Berlin and later become a leader in the anti-Nazi resistance. The time from when he went to New York City to his death was a journey of fifteen years.
I spent a little over one year in Colombia but it would change the trajectory of my life. It confirmed my desire to go to seminary. Early on I met a gentle, kind-hearted Chilean with a love for music, named Benjamin. Benjamin was studying for his degree in accounting but active in the Presbyterian Church in Colombia. He patiently taught me Spanish, I taught him English. We fell in love and by the end of the year we got married.
Thanks to Benjamin, I was captivated by the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Gabriella Mistral. Spanish songs like “Hay Amor” by Bronx-born salsa singer Victor Manuel and even the 1972 hit, “Eres Tu” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naAC37W42ro) by Mercedades became Spanish versions for my Barry fix. It was like trying to get a decent bagel outside New York City. You end up usually settling for those frozen hockey pucks sold by Sara Lee, instead of the real deal from Absolute Bagel or even Bagel Boy in New York City. “Hay Amor” was a remarkable stand-in, but never replaced “Even Now” or “One Voice.”
I was learning Spanish, had my brother Chris’ guitar, and I can’t tell you how many key changes I managed to cover by the time the song was over. I can assure you I invented more keys than a hardware store carries. And I probably made up a few as well, like Q flat. I was just happy to have a piece of Chris with me on my adventures. I think he would like that. As a result of working in Colombia, I determined to find a program that combined ministry and social work. The visions of the poor would not forsake me and I just didn’t know which direction this wheel was turning.
I found the perfect program near my old stomping grounds: right in Manhattan.
Give the gift of music to the next generation through donations to:
The Manilow Music Project
8295 South La Cienega Boulevard
Inglewood, CA 90301
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