“Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable”
– Motto at the top of the score to Symphony 4 by Carl Nielsen, Danish Composer and Musician
Life is short. We’ve all heard this. We know it as the one indisputable fact. Humans live and they die. A few rare individuals create timeless expressions of the human spirit and others are venerated for their deeds. While most of us will garner little acclaim for the simple facts of our lives, I am sure, nevertheless, that you can remember someone from your past who inspired you, someone who nurtured you, someone who helped to create the essence of how you eventually became to be.
Their role in your story can never be extinguished.
In that spirit, I welcome you to my journey dedicated to the memory of one such soul, Christopher Gray Rawlings, a person whose example still resides in the hearts of those who knew him despite the brief number of years he spent on this earth.
Chris was my dearest friend during the formative years I spent in Fredericksburg, Virginia as a child, adolescent and young adult. He possessed a passion for life that I have never to this day experienced in another person. Interested and accomplished in many aspects of human endeavor and filled with the potential to make a difference for our society, Chris was denied the opportunity to fulfill his promise. His tragedy was to endure the affliction of cystic fibrosis, a terrible disease of the respiratory system. Despite the best efforts of his family and medical team, Chris passed on April 1, 1981. He was six weeks shy of his twenty-third birthday.
While this was a devastating experience for someone in his early twenties, I eventually had to get on with the business of life. Over the past thirty-five years, I have enjoyed the blessings of education, career, family, friends, travel, and the chance to experience the joy of what it is to be alive. Despite this now considerable passage of time, I still find myself, thinking about Chris as if I, too, were still a young man. This often happens when experiencing the timelessness of nature or a particular piece of music.
Yes, a life can be inextinguishable, and, as such, I invite you to join me on a journey.
To celebrate my friend’s life and to bring attention to the ongoing fight against cystic fibrosis, I hereby begin a two-year fundraising drive in support of cystic fibrosis research on what would have been Chris Rawlings’ fifty-eighth birthday, May 24, 2016. The campaign culminates with my walking the St. Olavsleden (St. Olav Ways pilgrim path from Sweden to Norway), beginning on May 24, 2020. This roughly three hundred and fifty mile route begins on the eastern coast of Sweden and concludes in Trondheim, Norway. It will be a NORDIC JOURNEY.
WHAT IS THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN VIRGINIA AND SCANDINAVIA?
None, in the usual sense, but, rather, a logical albeit circuitous reflection of my own life’s path.
Over the past decade I have immersed myself in the culture of the northern world, feeding a passion that is intrigued with the music, history, art, and natural features of Nordic societies. Many of my musical endeavors have fostered my love of the north, and the concept of pilgrimage has always been something that has fascinated me.
My idea is to use this passion for the Nordic world as a means to bring attention to support for cystic fibrosis research. Over the next two years it is my plan to embark upon a series of concerts and other cultural events designed as fundraising opportunities to support cystic fibrosis. When I actually begin my pilgrimage, I will post regular blogs on this site, highlighting the culture and history of this medieval path. There will be musical surprises along the way as I offer performances of Nordic music en route for you to sample.
Please join me in this journey to eradicate a disease that has devastated so many lives. I invite you to explore this site, learn more about the fight against cystic fibrosis, and, along the way, share my NORDIC JOURNEY.
The symbol for my journey are two pipes intersecting – the organ pipe and the bagpipe.
To play the pipe organ in a great cathedral space or in an intimate setting is to experience a connection between keyboard, foot pedals, pipes and the various sounds that are possible. To create the skirl of the Great Highland Bagpipes on an open moor, or to play a set of Scottish Smallpipes in front of a roaring fire in one's living room also has the same requirement: oxygen.
The one component that makes it all work is the air that we breathe. When we can breathe, life is possible. Without the blower of an organ, the bellows of a bagpipe or the functioning lungs of person, there is no creation, no performance, no life.
Your support of my Nordic hike could literally help to breathe new air into the lives of others.