The Great Awakening

The seed of the song was first watered by my Dharma brother Jon Hart, an ICU nurse in Tulsa who shared honestly about the immense suffering he and his colleagues were facing as the pandemic took hold in the US. I asked Jon what I could do to help support. He suggested a song. It seemed small and inadequate, but also something within my power to help create. I continued to listen to the elders and the bearers of wisdom, to my own heart and mind, and to our Mother Earth.

After hearing Dharma talks given by many wise teachers in the Plum Village tradition as part of an online retreat, including Peggy Rowe-Ward, Larry Ward, Sister Peace, Thay Phap Luu, and Thay Phap Vu, I picked up my pen and journal and began writing. I picked up my guitar and sang.

I shared the song in a video call with fellow members of the Earthwork Music Collective, a Michigan-based group of artist-activist friends, who encouraged me to record it as a collaborative project. Soon we were doing our best to record sound and video from our homes, turning our bedrooms, offices, living rooms, and backyards into makeshift studios.

Elisabeth Pixley-Fink, Samantha Cooper, and Audra Kubat wove together tapestries of beautiful vocal harmonies. Seth Bernard added a compassionate acoustic guitar part and Mark Lavengood contributed haunting dobro slides. Jordan Hamilton created a deep bed of cello love and Peace Be Free wrote and rapped a whole new lyrical verse chock full of wisdom and insight. Chris Good added an electric bass line and Sari Brown sang a verse and danced with the other vocalists during the chorus parts. Dan Rickabus helped bring it all together with a solid rhythmic foundation of drums and percussion, Mother Earth heartbeats.

Using our cellphone cameras we captured our own images and the places around us that were helping us to remain connected to love and compassion. We enlisted the help of audio and video engineer friends Brian Woodring and Charlie Steen who worked with the raw footage and audio files to help us create something beautiful for the world.

Out of the compost of suffering, a flower is now blooming. Please, enjoy it’s beauty, witness any transformation that it helps to inspire, and take those seeds and plant them in your own soil. May we cultivate fields of compassion so that our world can harvest bushels of love. May we generate energies of peace and healing, so that our country can continue to evolve into more inclusive, compassionate, sustainable, healthy, and safe communities for all people, for all beings, for all our relations.

Listening with you,
Joe

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