Testing times can be like a giant filter, sifting and sorting what you hold most dear. When the things important to us are threatened, that’s when we know to draw them close. 

We all have difficult times. That is part of being human. The contrast of life that helps us to know what we want.

Through the difficult times in my life, music has been one of those cherished things that I just can’t let go of. It allows me to reach into the deepest parts of myself and express myself fully. Creatively, it challenges me to get into my flow, a state of allowing, where ideas come to be birthed into the world.

Most of you will know my song, The First Red Leaf of Autumn. It’s the first song on my debut album. You may not know that it is about my husband, Gary. 

We met at a music festival. We were both on the bill. I had checked his music out the night before and we had had a brief conversation. On seeing him arrive in the park, I was compelled to kiss him on the cheek and give him a big hug. Apparently that was enough for him to fall in love with me there and then! 

Despite the whirlwind romance that followed, there inevitably came some very testing moments (we humans are incredibly complicated at times, aren’t we?) With understanding, compassion, tons of talking and forgiveness, we emerged stronger, wiser and more committed to each other. 

I have no recollection of writing this song but I was obviously reflecting on my relationship and the choice to take a position in the seasons of change; one that acknowledged the difficult times but refused to be defined by them.

I was brought up in church, where the familiar ‘there is a time for everything,’ verses were often shared from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. There is also similar wisdom in the ancient Chinese text, the Tao de Ching, Chapter 29, which says, 

Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion, a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are, 
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the centre of the circle.

Those last four lines resonate deeply with me. This is not to say that we don’t care for others, or speak up in the face of injustice. But the ‘centre of the circle’ is where love resides; that deep love that connects us in the most sacred of ways, that sees yet forgives, that allows us to act from a position of kindness and compassion, rather than fear and anger. A love that is not swayed by emotion but flows through us with wisdom. 

There is plenty to be angry and fearful of right now. But we can choose to stand in the eye of the storm, the centre of the circle. A calm observer can see more clearly. 

I woke up today with this song in my heart, to share with you. What is in your heart today? If it’s heavy, let this song lighten your load. If it’s joyful, let me share in your joy. Write me back, I’d love to hear from you. 

Until then,

Much love and respect always, 

Elfin Bow xx

P.S. I have three very special online gigs coming up. 

May 24th, 3pm (BST) – Elfin Bow’s world Wide House Concert – a Facebook live tip jar concert, hosted on my personal profile (Elizabeth Anne Jones) – feel free to send me a friend request if we aren’t already connected there.

June 5th, 7 pm (BST) – Elfin Bow plays at the Tin Shed – a a Facebook live tip jar concert, hosted on the Tin Shed group. Join the beautiful community of music lovers here .

June 20th, 8pm (BST) – Songwriters Circle with Little Sparrow and Daria Kulesh (replacing the gig we would have done at the Liverpool Philharmonic Music room. Streamed live from the Liverpool Acoustic Facebook page. Find it here.

The First Red Leaf of Autumn

The first red leaf of Autumn that I gave to you that day
You put it in your pocket and you said
You said we’d be ok
New times are looking for me
New times are looking for me

You told me that you knew at the top of the hill
But even at the bottom you said
You said you loved me still
New times are looking for me
New times are looking for me
New times are looking for me
New times are looking for me

The barren boughs of winter hold no heartache for me
The mystery has spoken life’s the gift you’ve given me
The barren boughs of winter hold no heartache for me
The mystery has spoken life’s the gift you’ve given me

Words and music by Elfin Bow

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