The Other Side

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By Gretchen Sleicher

This song came on the descent from snowy Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains on 02/02/2020, when, unbeknownst to me, COVID was about to unfurl itself across the globe. It is a song for singing together during the Great Unraveling the world is now experiencing. It reminds us that the descent can be full of beauty, coming together in rough weather. It invokes deep time through the image of mountains slowly eroding over vast stretches of years, and the immediacy of crumbling glaciers, the rapid changes we are living now. It encourages us to take the long view, and to embrace both life and death. And it also asks us to sing out for life, and live with the presence of the future ones in our hearts and minds. We can’t know what awaits on the other side of these times, but we can take actions and live in ways that open up the possibility that there will be people to sing our songs, and that they will be sung on the other side.

The slideshow accompanying the song is especially poignant for me because many of the beautiful images in it were taken by my father, Charles Sleicher, who died on January 23, 2024, at 99½ years old. Maybe he’s smiling from the other side, knowing that his images are combining with my lyrics in hearts spread far and wide.

Gretchen Sleicher is a singer, songwriter and songleader who lives at the Port Townsend EcoVillage. Her original songs are largely inspired by wild nature in her Cascadia homeland. She’s worked extensively with Joanna Macy, and delights in weaving group singing and harmony-making into facilitation of the interactive group processes of the Work That Reconnects. She curates the website, a collection of songs for group singing that help us experience in the body our connection to each other and the planet, summon our collective courage, enliven us and inspire us to face the great unraveling and reach toward a great turning. The website includes recordings of some of her originals

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