A Butterfly's Promise
By Cheryl Melody, with Contributions from Wendy Young
Even in the midst of deep grief, as the shambles and ramifications of violence reverberate through death and destruction, the power of music can transcend people with deeply wounded hearts into a desire to once again embrace unity, love and peace. The healing medium of its creativity enables peace consciousness through love for humanity, thereby helping those with unimaginable grief to reach out, find solace with one another and move hearts towards peace.
Just such an experience occurred shortly after a tragedy in Oklahoma City, USA. During the morning of April 19, 1995, the bombing was an unexpected attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that contained many government offices and a preschool. The tragedy claimed 168 lives and injured 800 people, many of which were young children. It was especially shocking for many to learn that citizens of the same country, who were very angry with their government, carried out the bombing. Within days of this attack, two citizens of USA were arrested for their primary roles in the bombing. After a court trial, one was punished by lethal injection on June 11, 2001. It was during his trial that I was asked to become a catalyst for peace and healing through music and creativity.
Before this event, I had been quietly composing in my home in Massachusetts USA songs for peace. In that process, I placed my hands on my synthesizer and those songs came through me with lyrics and melodies as one unit. I was in a condition of openness that allowed creativity to flow and my reception of the words and melodies flow without question. I composed the songs without knowing their source, without knowing who will listen to them, or if anyone will hear their messages.
Shortly after composing these songs and others, I received a call from a professor at the University of Oklahoma who knew of my typical music and performances. She asked if I would be willing to come to Oklahoma City and perform some kind of healing concert in the amphitheatre there. I considered a request like that “God’s whisper,” and without questioning how or why, a new concert was born, entitled PEACE BEGINS WITH ME. I wasn’t sure what the performance was going to look like or sound like, how I would speak to everyone, and what songs would reach the hearts of the traumatized. Nevertheless, I flew to Oklahoma immediately to deliver this program.
The energetic fields surrounding me were thick, dark, and filled with the remnants of violence and the torments of disbelief and grief. A mass of teddy bears formed an impenetrable wall that stretched the length of a city block. Those comfort symbols, in an array of colors, sizes and shapes sat shoulder to shoulder in silence, as a tribute to the hundreds of people who perished in the Oklahoma City bombing. The community, as well as the nation, was still in shock from the aftermath of the tragedy. People were hurting in ways that I could not even begin to imagine. Their pain was palpable and the enormity of it overwhelmed me.
I wanted nothing more than to cry along with the anguished families, yet I was there for another purpose, a Creative Purpose, something much Bigger than myself. I was there to find a way to not only share the songs and words that had come through me, but to find a way to reach and open hearts through the creative mystical. I had to fully trust that all I knew with my highest knowing would be enough to begin to fulfill the incredible needs of the audience. It was my intent to raise their hope, lift their spirits and offer light to the darkness which remained after the tragedy.
Standing alone on the amphitheater stage at the University of Oklahoma, I looked out into the sea of grieving people. Looking back at me were parents who had lost their babies and children who had become orphans through one senseless act of violence, and people who had lost friends and loved ones. The raw emotion began to envelop me. My stomach lurched and my palms began to sweat. My thoughts wandered and I began to question how my music could help to heal anyone or anything. I was filled with self-doubt. Still, I was committed to my mission to reach out through music to connect people with each other in peacemaking.
I prayed, Please, Spirit, help me get out of my own way, and I tried to fill my head with positive thoughts. Still, I wasn't sure if I could pull it off. Are these songs enough? Am I really creative enough? Will this really make any kind of difference? Who am I to be doing this? Will the words get stuck if I try not to cry? Will these songs, these words, and the messages really matter? My courage and doubt were having inner debates with my Higher intentions, while my trust in the Creative power of music to move people towards peace were waning.
Miraculously, seconds before I sung my first note, a glorious butterfly landed on my microphone. Then the Beautiful creature fluttered around me and perched on my shoulder. With that sign, I knew I was in the right place, in the right time and the butterfly was conveying to me the promise of change...of transformation. It was a symbol of rebirth, and of creative possibilities towards nonviolence, healing and love. At that sacred moment, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be, doing what I was meant to do. Everything seemed to fall into place. A sense of calm replaced all of my misgivings and I began to sing...
*One Day in Peace, One day in world peace, No fighting,
no guns, no war
On this day, one day in peace, It will be for rich and for poor.
Where nations shall all join hands across the world to all the lands
One day in peace, one day in world peace, No fighting, no guns, no war
Yes, we’re all one people, all one nation, all one planet, Together we can live.
We're all the colors of one rainbow, All the feelings
of one heart,
All the music of one voice, Let’s reach for a brand new start...
Lots of struggles are the same for all of us, Each others’ hearts we really do know
We’re all connected with each other, So remember that, and don’t feel low
During the chorus, a creative idea came through me. I was hesitant at first. Would the audience really DO my suggestion? Would I make a fool out of myself? However, I considered the idea another one of “God’s whispers,” and I found myself urging people to come off the bleachers while singing the “One Planet” song with me in order to offer each other support, healing and love.
Everyone seemed inspired to sing and heal each other through hugs and handshakes. I observed an outpouring of love and unity as people left their seats and greeted each other in song and in human touch, with new eye-to-eye contact.
In that moment, people of all intellectual, emotional and physical abilities, all sizes, shapes and colors came together as ONE; their warmth, generosity and love far stronger than the horrific event which initially seared them together. They stood, much like the teddy bears, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart; a formidable wall of human kindness, which refused to yield to hatred. My “World Peace Anthem” and “One Planet” lyrics were being mirrored with their loving reach right before my eyes, and a tragic event that was meant to devastate served to unite through creativity, music and the intention of peace.
I witnessed the resiliency of the human spirit and of our need to be connected with others in tumultuous times. Just as the butterfly had promised, I beheld a miracle in the making as I watched people beginning to become stronger at the broken places in their hearts. I experienced the amazing power of trust in the unknown, with creativity through music to serve as a healing medium that nurtured and recreated an energetic vibration of love, peace and Light.
Listen to The World Peace Anthem -
Cheryl Melody, B.M.Ed., MA: “Peace Begins with Me” Concerts, Composer, recording artist, international performing artist, peace awareness educator and playwright. She is the artist of the following CD's: “Celebrate!”, "World Peace - The Children's Dream", "Voice of the Angels - A Healing Journey", "Songs That Make The Heart Feel Good," "Let's Pretend, and More,” and “Peek a boo, I Love You." Her “Peace Begins with Me” concerts as well as her “Peace Begins with Me-We’re Bully Free!” Teaching Concerts are presented throughout the globe. Melody's music brings a message of peace, tolerance, unity and compassion. To learn more about Cheryl Melody’s concerts, CDs and workshops on peace, please visit her website at www.cherylmelody.com). An additional website with her “Voice of the Angels-A Healing Journey” CD can be found at www.soundhope.com.
Wendy Young, MSW, CSW, child and family therapist/certified school social worker/mental health consultant has developed peace education programming for schools, as well as her local community. She and her family reside in Michigan's rural upper peninsula.
*(The excerpt of “The World Peace Anthem” by Cheryl Melody is found on the CD, “World Peace-The Children’s Dream.” The excerpt of the song, “One Planet” by Cheryl Melody is found on the CD, “Celebrate Peace! www.cherylmelody.com)