“Don’t struggle and strive so, my child. There is no race to complete, no point to prove, no obstacle course to conquer for you to win my love…
…Stop racing ahead at your own pace; You will only be exhausted, flamed out, and spent before the task is accomplished. Pace yourself with me; walk alongside me. Do you think I don’t know the demands of your life? I see you striving for perfection, craving my acceptance. I see you bending yourself out of shape to conform to the image that you have of me. Do you imagine that I did not know who you were when I made you, when I knit you together in your mother’s womb? Do you think I planted a fig tree and expected roses to bloom? No, child, I sowed what I wanted to reap.
You are a child after my own heart. Seek out your deepest joy and you will find me there. Find that which makes you most perfectly yourself and know that I am at the heart of it. Do what delights you and you will be working with me, walking with me, finding your life hidden in me.
Ask me any question. My answer is love. When you want to hear my voice, listen for love. How can you delight me? I will tell you: Love.
The tough, unbreakable, unshakable love. Are you looking for me? You will find me in love. Would you know my secrets? There is only one: Love.
Do you want to know me?
Do you yearn to follow me?
Do you want to reach me?
Seek and serve love.”
~Bishop Desmond Tutu, from Made For Goodness
The interconnectedness of all life surrounds me, allows me to breathe, to feel, to see, and to be. And yet, in spite of this rich reality of my daily lived existence, I can find myself feeling cut off, isolated, alone, or afraid.
That is why I need to take time, again and again, to pause and bring my awareness back to my breath, to become grounded again in the present moment. I need help remembering my true nature, and to be reminded that I am not just an individual self but that I am part of a much bigger living, breathing community of beings.
In Native American cultures there are many words used to describe this Higher Power that intimately connects us all. I like the phrase Great Mystery because it speaks to a sense of belonging to something greater than my own intellectual comprehension. It is this Great Mystery that allows me to trust my breath and to have faith in the present moment, even though I may feel anxious or doubtful in any particular instance. It is the Great Mystery that opens my heart like a flower, and allows love to pour through me and neutralize my neurotic fears.
And so with this understanding I move through my life, allowing music and community to flow through me, to keep bringing me back to the healing refuge of the Great Mystery that is within and around me.
During these past couple of months I have had a busy performing schedule, visiting many schools, nature centers, and festivals to share a musical message of ecology and interconnectedness. I am so grateful to the music, the children and families, and the many friends along the way who continue to greet me with love and support and who embody the Great Mystery along my path.
During the last two weeks of April, in honor of Earth Day, I was privileged to have 19 performances in 10 cities, visiting 8 schools, 3 nature centers, and 1 Zen Temple. I was deeply moved by the outpouring of support given by people who donated to my fundraiser on April 28th in Ann Arbor, where I raffled off two old guitar cases and received enough donations to cover my travel to Plum Village for a 3-week retreat in June. Check out this great video from the concert filmed by Bob Lippert of Blue 2 Studio!
I have a few more exciting performances in Michigan before I depart for my retreat in Plum Village, and I will have some more fun gigs over the summer after I return. I am calling the wonderful band of musicians who accompany me in various ensembles “The Community Gardeners,” in honor of our musical cultivation of joy, love, and community. The Community Gardeners includes bassists Marion Hayden and Issa Sall, percussionists Mark Stone, Lori Fithian, and Camelo Romelus, drummer Gayelynn McKinney, vocalist Lesley-Anne Stone, guitarist and vocalist Billy King, and my sweetheart pianist Allison Radell.
While I am gone I will miss many wonderful musical happenings, including the annual Earthwork Music Family Weekend June 15th-17th in Lake City, Michigan. If you are a parent, child, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin, or grandparent, please check out this beautiful weekend of music and family activities. You can find more information about the Earthwork Family Weekend and register online at www.familyweekend.us
Thank you for helping me to stop, to take pause, to come back to my true nature, and to dwell with the Great Mystery. I pray that I may be able to somehow reflect this generous gift back to you and your family, as together we remind each other who we really are.
Yours in the Great Mystery,