Newsletter

Waging Love

Posted by on Nov 5, 2018 in newsletter | 0 comments

Waging Love

I see you appear
Weighed down by your money and your fear
Ignorance and insecurity
Trying so desperately to be happy and free
By clinging on to power and control over your sisters and brothers
Threatening the life of our very Earth Mother
Exploiting her as you do her daughters
Polluting and selling and controlling our waters

I see you and you’re breaking my heart
Tearing families apart
Because of where they were born
Leaving poor families torn
Or by the color of their skin
Locking up our children

I see you-you’re as old as the country itself
Compromising our emotional health
You were there in the slave trade
The very fabric from which this country was made

You never learned the lessons
From your Smith and Wessons
And your fire hoses
Your fear exposes
Your vulnerabilities
You were there in manifest destiny
And you’re still trying so hard to be free
Locked in the prison of your hatred and insanity

You were there in the boarding schools
You were the criminally cruel policies
Stealing children from their families
With the stroke of a pen
We always knew we would see you again
And you’ve never really been that well hidden

Trying the same old tricks to no avail
Racist confusion will always fail
You are a sickness, an old disease
Let us help you with your suffering please

Its time for us to heal
To let go and release
To recognize our common humanity
To awaken to the reality
Of our shared existence
Our interdependence
So let’s stop pretending

Let’s turn towards our hearts rather than our screens
Let’s listen to the joys and also the screams
Let’s grow compassion in our democracy
Every one is essential for us to be free
Everyone’s essential for us to be free

How do we wage love in the face of hatred and violence? How do we reach courage and understanding, compassion and bravery in ourselves and in our communities while surrounded by the distracted confusion of fear and ignorance?

I ask these questions after yet another senseless act of hatred and violence has ripped through the hearts of our country. I recognize the seeds of grief, fear, and anger that are touched within me. I hold them gently with mindfulness, allowing these energies to transform into compassion. I invite the energy of compassion to guide my actions into working towards the solution, towards peace. I am reminded that “there is no way to peace, peace is the way.” Lord, help me walk the way of peace.

I know that in order to do this I need to continue to allow the anger, fear, and ignorance in my own heart and mind to be transformed by the guiding light of mindfulness, wisdom, and insight. I need to sing love and invite the Holy Spirit to help me awaken to the reality of my shared interbeing with all my relations.

I turn my heart towards gratitude for the many blessings in my life. For my beautiful wife Allison and the gift of our relationship. For the healing power of music and for the many people and communities with whom we are blessed to share songs. For the previous generations who have gone before and who make a way of peace for me now. For the water that flows and gives us all life. For the laughter and playfulness of children. For this breath.

Breathing in, I recognize anger
Breathing out, I embrace anger with mindfulness
Recognizing anger, embracing with mindfulness

Breathing in, I recognize fear
Breathing out, I embrace fear with compassion
Recognizing fear, embracing with compassion

Breathing in, I feel grief
Breathing out, I hold the grief gently
Feeling grief, holding gently

Breathing in, I recognize compassion
Breathing out, I offer compassion to myself and others
Compassion for myself, compassion for others

Breathing with you,
Joe

The Hope of Spring

Posted by on Apr 9, 2018 in newsletter | 0 comments

Winter has been hanging on here in Michigan, even though we are already into the first few weeks of spring. Cold temperatures and even some April snow showers have cast a shadow on our optimism and hope. Do we really believe this season will spring forth with new life? Will the ice finally melt and the water flow freely? Will we walk outside again in short sleeves and feel warm?

At the same time, the “winter” of racism, violence, xenophobia, sexism, and hatred continues to persist in our national psyche. These various forms of fear are conditioned into our very beings as Americans, and are currently being reinforced by our president and other elected leaders. It takes true courage and creativity to help awaken the light of healing justice in such a climate and to act from a place of love for all humanity.

We all want to be free. We long for love, connection, safety, security, and community. We are in need of balance in our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with our Mother Earth. How do we live our lives during these cold wintery days with the warm hope of spring in our hearts?

I have been inspired by the courageous students who led the nation and the world in the March For Our Lives, inviting us to transform our culture of gun violence into a more sane and safe reality. I am encouraged by the Poor Peoples’ Campaign, a national call for moral revival and a continuation of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent struggle for justice. I am enlivened by the many young people with whom I have the privilege to sing, letting the music reach our hearts in a way that casts aside fear and discrimination.

I am grateful for many opportunities to sing for all people, for healing justice, and for our Mother Earth. I am excited to offer a special weeklong mindfulness and songwriting camp for kids this summer at Oz’s Music in Ann Arbor. Most of all, I am humbled, grateful, and so happy to marry Allison this summer. With the support of our family, friends, and communities, we can allow our love to help us grow, to overcome fear, and to more fully embrace hope.

I invite you to cultivate and share the hope that is in your heart, for brighter and warmer days, for more just and inclusive communities, and for safe places for all children to sing, play, and grow.

Yours in the music,

Joe

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