Newsletter

Being Peace

Posted by on Jan 10, 2018 in newsletter | 0 comments

Let your heart open wide
Let your heart open wide
Pour out all the love inside
That you’ve tried to hide
And let your heart open wide

Snow covers the Michigan landscape like a peaceful blanket, reminding me of the beauty of stillness and the importance of slowing my pace. Although there is always an endless list of things to do, winter invites me to focus more on being rather than doing. How can I be safe and warm? How can I be as peaceful as the snow? How can I be in alignment with the Great Mystery of transformation? How can I be an artist and activist for social justice? How can I be a good friend, fiance, brother, son, and neighbor?

As I contemplate these winter reflections, I notice the layer of icy fear that has begun to form around my heart. Will I be okay? Am I good enough? Is there any hope left for peace in our world? I breathe in and out mindfully, allowing the warmth of compassion and love to thaw the anxiety. Breathing, smiling, letting go, I return to the deep peace that lives below the fear.

It is from this place of peace that I seek to live. This is where the music flows, like water beneath the ice. This is where I rest in knowing that I am an intimate part of all life. This is where I can inter-be with all my relations. This is where I can act for justice with kindness and compassion.

As we move through this season of freezing and thawing, let us help one another to melt the ice, clearing a path to the love and joy that lives in our hearts. Let us be healing light and warmth for one another, let us sing together, let us be peace.

Singing with you,
Joe

Snowy Branches Filtered

Return to Love

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 in newsletter | 0 comments

“As a nation, we need to gather our collective courage and face our society’s lovelessness as a wound. As we allow ourselves to acknowledge the pain of this wound when it pierces our flesh and we feel in the depths of our soul a profound anguish of spirit, we come face to face with the possibility of conversion, of having a change of heart. In this way, recognition of the wound is a blessing because we are able to rend it, to care for the soul in ways that make us ready to receive the love that is promised.”

~Bell Hooks, All About Love

How do we love in the midst of hatred and violence? How do we recover from the historical traumas of racism and oppression that continue to inflict suffering in our communities today? How do we live as Buddha, Christ, and other spiritual teachers instruct, with love and forgiveness, compassion and courage?

The recent demonstrations of racism and hatred in Charlottesville have left me in shock, horror, and disbelief. How could this happen in 2017? How could the president of this country go on to defend and minimize the actions and ideologies of white supremacists and neo-nazis? The foundations of our country that were built on genocide, slavery, and dispossession of Native lands and cultures have once again shown their presence as a chronic disease in our society. We have another opportunity to choose to respond not out of our woundedness but out of our healing resilience with love, understanding, and peace.

We can respond with love through actions that call us to see our fellow humans as brothers and sisters, to understand our interdependence and to work to lift one another up, especially those most marginalized in our society by systematic racism and inequality. We can sing together across lines of race, class, gender, age, religion, nationality, and ability.

The generational terror carried out by the KKK, Nazis, and other hate groups that target people of color, Jews and Muslims, immigrants, people in the LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities, those who fight for women’s rights, and others, has been triggered by the recent demonstrations. Unlike the “innocent protests” president Trump described them as, these gatherings were designed to inflict harm on minority groups while inciting violence, fear, anger, and hatred.

The Buddha taught us that “Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease.”  The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed this sentiment when he said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I know that I cannot proceed alone on this journey towards light and love. I can only move forward with the wisdom and support of diverse communities who are working for justice and understanding; communities of the heart. I ask the ancestors and the Great Spirit to grant me the courage and strength to be part of the light and the love, to sing justice and peace, and to help heal the chronic diseases of racism and violence that continue to plague our country.

I am grateful to have a wonderful loving partner, friends, and family with whom to share this journey. I am happy to reunite with my brothers Will and Brian of the Long Hairz Collective and with Ojibwe singer songwriter and activist Annie Humphrey as part of Annie’s “The Beast and the Garden” Tour in September, as we travel the Great Lakes and sing together for the water, the people, and our Mother Earth. With your help, we will proceed in healing peace.

Yours in the Music and the Love,
Joe

Make Our Climate Great Again!

Posted by on Apr 22, 2017 in newsletter | 0 comments

Great Spirit, help us to live in balance with you, with one another, and with our Mother Earth. Teach us to love with the humble generosity of nature. Give us the patience and faith of the ancient forests as you guide us along your path of healing and transformation. Help us awaken like the springtime earth and open our eyes to the presence of your living spirit in all beings. Give us the courage and boldness of sprouting seedlings, that we may act with compassion while growing towards your light.

Mother Earth is waking up. Spring is upon us and the frozen woodland trails here in Michigan have once again become muddy paths. The silent winter mornings have been replaced with symphonies of bird songs and frog choruses. The shapes of streams and rivers have been reformed as their water levels rise and currents turn into rapids.

As Mother Earth reawakens, she teaches us about resilience, transformation, and generosity. Her life-giving forces continue to support us all; the two-legged, four-legged, winged, and finned. All species, all humans, without discrimination. Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals. All nations, colors, religions, languages, ethnicities, and tribes. We are all children of this same precious Mother Earth.

And yet we walk and drive around as if we were separate, individual owners of the land. We make plans like we were in control of the seasons. We sell the water. We continue to pollute the air with toxins and greenhouse gases. We shift disproportionate environmental burdens on the poor and communities of color. We forget that in doing so we are selling and poisoning ourselves and each other, and are cheating future generations out of their health and well-being.

Here in the US, our new president has decided to roll back regulations meant to protect the air and the water from such destruction. Instead of strengthening environmental protections, this administration seems interested only in enriching itself at the expense of a stable climate, clean water, and fresh air.

It is up to us to respond with radical compassion, not only for ourselves but on behalf of future generations. Not only for our fellow humans but for all species. How do we restore balance to Mother Earth? How do we make heard the voices of the voiceless, of those calling out to us to protect the earth? How do we make the climate great again?

The answer is simple but challenging. We need to find ways to consume less fossil fuels. We need to raise less livestock and reduce the amount of materials sent to landfills. We need to simplify our lives and learn ways to work together across differences, sharing the understanding that we all depend on clean air, clean water, and a stable climate.

We need to work for environmental justice for all, especially for the most vulnerable among us.

Just as our Mother Earth is waking up, we humans must also awaken to the reality of our interdependence with each other and all of nature. We must recognize our common humanity and vulnerability to climate change, and act to stop environmental destruction. Our survival depends on it.

I will continue to celebrate our Mother Earth and all of her communities each time I sing. I am grateful to have many opportunities to do so and invite you and your family to sing with me. On April 29th Allison and I will join with people all over the country to march for jobs, justice, and the climate in DC. We hope that you will join a march near you and that together we will continue to sing, love, and work to protect our Mother Earth. Let us wake up and make our climate great again, for the benefit of future generations.

Trusting in our Mother Earth,
Joe