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Our Human Family

Posted by on Jan 22, 2020 in newsletter | 0 comments

“We are the tribe of human beings. We are family. We are related. As self-evident as that may seem to some of us, it is an historic recognition that has yet to be achieved…Humanity still suffers daily and deeply from religious intolerance, racial violence, and endemic warfare. The most fundamental lessons of kinship seem to elude us.”
~Steven Charleston, The Four Vision Quests of Jesus

I am very familiar with fear. I know the fear of loneliness, the fear of failure, the fear of being unworthy of love, and the fear of change. I know the fear of suffering and pain, and the big fear of death. I know the fear of being vulnerable, of getting hurt, and the fear of being truly present in my relationships.

And yet my humanity calls me to overcome this fear with courage, to love and be loved even at the risk of being hurt, and to be in right relationship with myself and with my fellow humans, even the ones who disrupt my serenity.

I know that to confront fear with more fear only adds to collective suffering. I know that I must dig deep in myself to cultivate the mindfulness that allows me to embrace my fear with compassion and love. And I know that I cannot do this alone, that I can only transform my fear with the support of community.

I look to you as a part of that Beloved Community. When we join together in song, when we smile to one another, when we support each other in living and acting with kindness and compassion, we are helping to transform our world. We are recognizing our place within this human family, and are honoring our relationships with one another. We are recognizing the fear, embracing it with strong and gentle arms, and growing our collective love.

In this New Year when many in our society, including our current President, seem ready to act out of fear and lead us towards division, hatred, and war, let us work together to grow our collective love and courage.

To All My Relations,

Joe

Songs Without Borders

Posted by on Nov 4, 2019 in newsletter | 0 comments

“Las mariposas no tienen fronteras, ambos lugares son sus casas
The butterflies have no borders, both places are their homes”

 
Music helps us experience our common humanity. Singing together invites us to connect on a heart level beyond space and time, encouraging us to break down barriers that prevent us from loving and living fearlessly. In this time when it is so easy to react with hatred, anger, disgust, and contempt towards those with whom we disagree, when we are taught and conditioned to perceive those who are different than ourselves as inferior, how can we learn to take refuge in the sanctity of our interdependence with all people, and with all beings?
 
Sharing rhythms and melodies helps me to get there, if only for fleeting moments. Music helps me realize that our interconnectedness is not only possible, but necessary for our survival as a species. Our Mother Earth is calling on us to wake up. Our ancestors are lovingly inviting us to wake up. Can you hear them singing? They are asking us to come together in unity, to join our hearts, minds, and voices so that we may recognize our shared existence and act to protect the sacredness of all life, not only for ourselves but for future generations.
 
Let us come together and sing in unity beyond borders, in oneness and with joy, for all beings,
 
Joe

Only Love

Posted by on Aug 14, 2019 in newsletter | 0 comments

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”
 
“Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities that surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of [hu]mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean we abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of energy we must continue to rid this nation of the incubus of segregation. But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community”

~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love
 
How do I respond to the hatred and violence that continues to manifest in our society? What do I do to combat the cruel treatment of immigrants that persists on our southern border and in communities around the country? How do I reply to the seeds of brutality and intolerance recklessly watered by the words and actions of others, including by the President of these United States?
 
First I need to acknowledge the grief and trauma experienced by so many who have found themselves facing this violence head on. My love goes out to the families torn apart by deportations, incarceration, gun violence, and hate crimes. At the same time I need to work to transform the violence and suffering within myself and dig deep to find empathy for the oppressors and aggressors, recognizing their humanity while calling out their wicked actions as inhumane and unacceptable.

 

For sanity, support, and guidance, I need to reach out and stay connected to the beloved community that Dr. King preached about and dedicated his life to build. When I am caught by the illusion that I am just a small individual self, I am paralyzed into believing that I am helpless and that my actions are ineffective. But when I remember that I am part of the continuation of peace and healing that flow from so many great spiritual ancestors including Dr. King, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jesus, Mary, Buddha, and countless Grandmothers and Grandfathers, and that I am deeply connected to the Great Mystery of life, I have the energy to move forward and continue building this legacy of love.
 
Music helps open the door of my heart to connect with others and do this work of building beloved community. I am so grateful to have been given the gift of music by my parents and ancestors. I pray that I may use it in service of the transformative love that is so necessary for our collective survival. I continue to offer my humble contribution to peace and healing, to sing and to love, and I invite you to join with me in this beloved community of song. I pray that your gifts of service may be nourished and strengthened and that together our love can overcome hatred and ignorance.
 
Just this, only love,
Joe

P.S. If you are looking for ways to help those immigrant families who were recently targeted by ICE in Mississippi, I am making a donation to the Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance. Please join me in supporting this or the many other organizations working for social justice for immigrants.