The road ends, but the journey continues...

Bye, Bye, MMXX

vonnegut quote

It’s been a hard year.

To borrow the March proverb and apply it to our domestic and worldwide on-going state of affairs, I like to think that as 2021 ‘comes in like a lion’ it will ‘go out like a lamb.’

In the meantime –

I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.

Mary Oliver

This 2020 virtual choir video edition of How Can I Keep from Singing makes me feel less alone – its message, its virtual human presence. It seems just what the doctor ordered to usher in a dose of courage, strength and continued commitment to stay the course during these unrelenting times.

Being raised Catholic, and then doing the Jesus People street theatre scene in the 70s, my knowledge of purely Protestant Hymns is limited. Yet, here in the midst of a 21st century Pandemic, it took a Unitarian quilter blogger buddy to introduce me to this encouraging and joyful Hymn (thank-you, Zippy).

My life flows on in endless song above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock, I’m clinging. Since love prevails in heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

– Keep singing –


  1. Annika Perry

    Laura, a beautiful post to greet the new year … the first few weeks have been very hard here in the UK and your words, quotations and music came at just the right time for me. A soft and emotional Sunday afternooon as I listen to the choir and their song flow over me, healing, soothing. The Kurt Vonnegut and Mary Oliver quotes are beautiful and I’m saving both of these – inspiring, heartwarming!

    • laura bruno lilly

      In the days to come this MMXXI, something to come back to and stay grounded in IMHO. Thank you for taking time during your Sunday afternoon to read and listen to this.

  2. David Gittlin

    Beautiful post. I remember Pete Seeger singing the hymn A Capella at one of his concerts many years ago. It certainly resonates more deeply now after forty years of life culminating in 2020.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Welcome, David! I’m envious you attended one of Pete’s concerts back in the day. He was more influential than most realize. I wonder what he’d have sung during 2020?

  3. I rewatched the video and was reminded: “No storm can shake my inmost calm” – thanks so much for posting this video!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh yeahhhhh…

  4. Retirement Reflections

    Hi, Laura – Thank you for sharing ‘How Can I Keep from Singing.’ This is exactly what I needed this morning!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yeah, it does lighten the soul, doesn’t it? Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Ally Bean

    2020 confused me in many ways. I struggle to remain, if not upbeat, at least without rancor as a result of it. I like the sentiment in the Vonnegut quote, especially the idea of not letting the bitterness steal my sweetness.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Stay sweet, Ms Bean…

  6. Marty

    Perfect, Laura. Vonnegut captures the sentiment; great choice. Happy New Year!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, Marty.

  7. Andy

    The start of that Vonnegut poem, about being soft, and your reference to your Catholicism, immediately made me think of the translations of the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes from the Aramaic by Neil Douglas-Klotz. Often quite poetic with a number of alternatives, for ‘Blessed are the meek’ read:
    Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within.”

    ‘Be soft/Don’t let the world make you hard’ said Kurt.

    Happy New Year Laura, 2020 has faded to an ignominious past. We’ve emerged with a welcome softening, I hope.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Returning to the original language of a piece often reveals beauty that is difficult to translate…insights gleaned, in this instance, from the Aramaic are golden. Thank you for showing me this, Andy.

      • Andy

        His books are of interest if you like that kind of thing-whole new ‘alternatives’ can be compiled together if you want something in addition to that which you’ve learned by rote.

        • laura bruno lilly

          Definitely worth looking into, thanks Andy.

  8. Jennie

    I love this! Happy New Year, Laura.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Happy New Year back at ya, teacher!

  9. Marie A Bailey

    Love the quotes from Vonnegut and Oliver as well as the singing 🙂 So, you had went through a Jesus People period as well. I was involved in my mid-teens. It was … interesting 😉

    • laura bruno lilly

      It’s all a part of the journey, right?
      Thanks for the ‘reveal’ Marie!

  10. tierneycreates

    Oh Laura what a wonderful post – it made my heart sing 🙂
    I am going to keep that wonderful quote that you opened this post with in mind for 2021.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Singing to the hum of your sewing machine and pondering the quote during your hand-crafting sounds wonderful!

  11. Janis @

    I’m always so impressed with these Zoom singing and instrumental montages (that’s probably not the right word), since the sound can be so disjointed even on a regular family Zoom. Anyway, thanks for the share! Wishing you a fabulous new year… all year!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Most don’t realize those montages (great word for the craft) are very technically demanding…I admire all who take the raw elements of music recording, video synching, teaching us musician nerds how to set up for such a thing and the normal stuff of mixing/mastering for a great finish!
      Happy MMXXI to you, too, Janis.

      • Marie A Bailey

        Thank you for explaining all that goes into pulling off a Zoom production! The video looks impressively effortless. I can’t even imagine the hours (days, weeks?) that went into such a beautiful production. Thank you for sharing it, Laura!

        • laura bruno lilly

          I’m always happy to open up & share the inner nuances of my working musician world!

  12. anne54

    That Kurt Vonnegut quote is beautiful. It seems to sum up what we have to do at the moment ~ hold onto our optimism and work towards making the world the place we want to live in. And to keep singing of course!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, bitterness and hardness – even if due to the injustices of life – overshadow/negate all the good things and hinder us to move forward towards making things better (as you say).
      Keep singing – I’m listening for your voice from over the ocean!

  13. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    I inherited my interest and love for birds from my mom. Birds have always been a source of inspiration for me. This year, I plan on making refrigerator quilts with a bird for each month. For Christmas, my sister gave me a children’s book entitled, Birds. Carme Lemniscates is the author and illustrator. The illustrations are beautiful, and the words are just perfect for setting the mood for 2021. One of my favorite lines from the story is comparing birds to good news coming. I highly recommend this book. If I was still teaching, I would so use this as a basis for many lessons. Children’s books are not just for children. 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      ‘Good news’ coming in the form of bird-SONG also, I presume? Very timely, Chela.
      May those birds continue to fuel your creative path…
      BTW: what is a ‘refrigerator quilt’? I’m unfamiliar with that term/style.

      • Chela's Colchas y Mas

        A refrigerator quilt is a small quilt block that can be displayed on the fridge…or anywhere. I heard about it from Mary, at Zippy Quilts. Making these provides an opportunity to use up scraps. I also want to use it as a way to practice/learn new techniques.

        • laura bruno lilly

          What a great idea – fun, practical and on ‘your own terms’. Mary is really a font of practical inspiration, isn’t she?
          Can’t wait to see what shows up on your refrigerator this year.

  14. Laura Kate

    Laura, thanks for the song. I guess I really do miss choral singing. I hope it is still alive when choirs are finally able to gather together again.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I have no doubt it will be!

  15. Jane's Heartsong

    Thanks for a great beginning to the new year. going for a walk today will make it even better.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I like your line of thinking, Jane. I’ve no doubt your walk enhanced this first day of the New Year considerably.

  16. zippyquilts

    Wow! That’s an amazing version of the song. for sharing 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      I was torn between the version you sent (so authentic/genuine) and this one. Because the format of this one was so ‘2020’ ie-a virtual choir assemblage, I went with it. It, too, feels genuine.
      Thanks again for introducing me to it, Zippy!

  17. Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet

    Beautiful post, Laura! <3 Have a great day!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you, Cheryl. Enjoy your first weekend of MMXXI!

  18. petespringerauthor

    Wow! Imagine what we can do when we work together. Happy New Year, Laura!

    • laura bruno lilly

      sooo true –
      Happy New Year back at ya, Pete.

  19. Laura

    You have touched my heart with this post, Laura! Thank you! 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re more than welcome, Laura. Thanks for letting me know.

  20. Lavinia Ross

    What an uplifting video! Happy New Year, Laura!
    ?? ?? ?? ?? ?

    • laura bruno lilly

      The amount of technical work that goes into the synching of these types of collaborations – along with the basic musicianship skill – amazes me!
      Happy New Year to you, too, Lavinia!

  21. Frank @ Beach Walk Reflections

    Happy New Year, Laura. That was absolutely a wonderful addition for my morning. Many, many thanks and may 2021 bring you many reasons to smile.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, again Frank!

  22. piecefulwendy

    Happy New Year – I have enjoyed the quotes and the song. The Mary Oliver quote makes me grin; I need to return to singing more this year. Thanks for sharing!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Singing does tend to stimulate good vibes within oneself…so a return to that should yield much satisfaction!
      Happy New Year, Wendy.

  23. Frank @ Beach Walk Reflections

    Now that’s a way to ring in 2021. Great find! Happy New Year to you and may 2021 deliver many smiles.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Still smiling even though my mask covers the effort – I know it can reach out anyway!

  24. L. Marie

    Happy New Year, Laura! Great quotes and great advice to keep singing. Amen! 2020 was definitely a year of hard changes but hopefully some growth too. Welcome to 2021!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Growth? Definitely!
      Keep singing, lady.

  25. marissthequilter

    Hello MMXXI. I will keep singing. I will also replay this wonderful video. Thank you for sharing it Laura. Wishing you a song-filled year

    • laura bruno lilly

      Happy hopeful MMXXI, Mariss! In your Kantha and otherwise, too!

  26. LA

    I’m not a singer…but I’ll go with just keep keeping on….I don’t remember what 70s movie that’s from though….

    • laura bruno lilly

      I still enjoy belting out songs with gusto while driving – I bet you do, too!
      To clarify: the song is a traditional hymn that got a cool re-do via the NYC Virtual Choir (and I’d never heard of it before due to my limited knowledge of hymn repertoire). The 70s reference is of my involvement with street theatre at the time.

      • LA

        Every now and then you’ll catch me singing….?

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