"Scarlet Ribbons"

In 1949, composer Evelyn Danzig and lyricist Jack Segal teamed up to write what would become an immensely popular song called "Scarlet Ribbons":

Scarlet Ribbons
I peeked in to say goodnight,
And then I heard my child in prayer:
"And for me some scarlet ribbons,
Scarlet ribbons for my hair . . ."
All the stores were closed and shuttered,
All the streets were dark and bare . . .
In our town, no scarlet ribbons,
Not one ribbon for her hair . . .
Through the night my heart was aching,
Just before the dawn was breaking,
I peeked in and on her bed,
In gay profusion lying there,
Lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons,
Scarlet ribbons for her hair . . .
If I live to be two hundred,
I will never know from where,
Came those lovely scarlet ribbons,
Scarlet ribbons, for her hair!

The Kingston Trio, The Lennon Sisters, Perry Como, Harry Belafonte, Dinah Shore, Jim Reeves, Joan Baez, Mary O'Hara, and Sinead O'Conner are among those who have recorded this little song with its enigmatic lyrics and haunting melody. But where did the idea come from? And why does everyone like it so much? More importantly, how would all the people who claim to like this song react if something like this really happened to them?

During the late 80s, I was very spiritually "open," and at times felt that I was living between two worlds--the "here and now" and the "here and beyond," as I called them. High-impact "coincidental" incidents occurred on a daily basis, and I was starting to reach a "cross-roads," of sorts, knowing that I would have to back off a lot if I wanted to continue to live a relatively "normal" life....

On one "relatively normal" day as I was doing some housework, I took a load of clean, folded laundry and several items on hangers back to my bedroom to put away. While there, looking at one short-sleeve blouse that I hung in the closet, I thought that it would be nice to get a rose-colored skirt to go with it. I had some other patterned tops that would also go well with a skirt of that color.

This was nothing more than a passing thought--nothing like an urgent request or need--and certainly not a "prayer" in any sense of the word. Just a normal thought in a (supposedly) normal day....

I put some other clothes in the washer, did some dishes, folded another load of laundry, and walked back down the hall to put some more things away.

When I reached the open door to my room, I froze. Adrenaline coursed through my body and I felt close to fainting as I tried to absorb what I was seeing:

There on the floor, just inside of my room, was a neatly folded rose-colored skirt!

While I suppose this might sound "ungrateful," as soon as I could move--and could think clearly--I cautiously picked up the skirt as if it were a dangerous wild animal or deadly explosive (I didn't even want to touch it!), quickly carried it to a bag full of old clothing that I was planning to take to a local thrift shop, gingerly placed it inside of the bag and, with shaking hands, closed it with a twist-tie. There was absolutely no way that I was going to wear it, and I didn't even want it in my house.

While I've since read about people who can "make" objects materialize like this, this was just an over-the-top experience, and one that I found totally and utterly unsettling.

This--and some other events that occurred during this time--made me feel like I was a toaster that had inadvertently plugged directly into a nuclear reactor, and I was coming dangerously close to having my "circuits" fried.... While I didn't associate anything "evil" with the skirt or with the other things that were happening, I also realized that the power of the God-force is truly awesome, and that I was just simply not "wired" to handle this magnitude of "current."

With this thought in place, I realized that Jesus could be thought of as a "transformer"--similar in function to the electrical transformers that make the level of current running on large power lines safe for use within our houses.... And while I'd never quite understood the power that Catholic priests have been given--or the need that some people have for ministers and other spiritual leaders to guide and define their relationship with the God-force--I'll admit that after finding the skirt, I decided that there was definitely some merit to be found in this somewhat "insulated" and "low-voltage" approach to spirituality, too....

Still unsettled by the incident, I destroyed the spiritual journal I'd kept for years, and tried to ignore or block some of the other things that happened on a daily basis. I swung back to a somewhat more "fundamentalistic" Christian mindset for a little while, and also became even more involved in the "here and now," in order to reclaim a better sense of balance.

While I've since re-thought my definition of "normal," I still feel that physical manifestations like this are just too weird--and therefore, too frightening--for my current level of spiritual development and understanding. While I obviously can't ignore the fact that they happen, it's not something that I want to experience again--and I haven't, not since the day that I found the skirt on my floor.

But every time I hear the song "Scarlet Ribbons," I still wonder how Segal got the idea to write it, and I'm reminded of the day that I viewed yet another part of the "elephant".....

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