Saturday, September 27, 2014


            Yesterday I found myself worrying about this upcomingSunday, which will be the first of three consecutive Sundays when the Circle will meet at Say Sí, instead of the SA Garden Center.
            Will folks follow us across town again? What if they don't? What if they can't find us? It wasn't a problem when we did the same thing in the Spring, but will there be a negative impact this time? The Circle's financial reserves are at the lowest level they've ever been; will they dip lower because of this move? Is the pleasure of meeting in the spacious, light-filled Garden Center forty-four times a year worth the inconvenience of moving across town on the eight Sundays (five in the spring; three in the fall) that it isn't available to us?
            While these are all important questions, they've already been asked and discussed repeatedly at various planning meetings. Besides, now that the rental contract is already in place, and the arrangements have all been made, it's too late to change anything anyway, so why worry? For that matter, why worry about worrying so much?        
            So there I was, stuck in the muck, listening to Monkey Mind chattering at full speed, while running through that same old list of questions, over and over... when a smaller, quieter voice came slipping-sliding through, inviting me:

Just for now
Let this breath be enough

Let yourSelf remember that whatever tomorrow may bring, in this moment, all your needs are met

Let silence replace the deep-seated desire to have words come to your rescue, and save you from the formless mystery nipping at your heels

Let unresolved questions be what they are, without a need to follow them blindly into the darkness where they live

Let your heart take the lead for awhile, and give your weary mind a rest

Let the first crisp breezes of autumn clear out the space between your ears
and help you sink into the silence that lives in the spaces between your thoughts

Let go of your need to see around the corner, and make room for the field of infinite possibilities to unfold right now
and now
and now.

           Of course, I still don't know what Sunday will bring, but whatever it might be, I feel at peace with it now, knowing only good will come from being present in this moment while releasing my attachments, expectations and fears about the future. And... I'd love to see you there on Sunday!

With joy,

Thursday, September 18, 2014


          Last week I had the good fortune to spend time in the recording studio with ace guitarist/producer, Joe Reyes (Buttercup; The Swindles) and mandolin/violin whiz, Hank Harrison (Tennessee Valley Authority). Both are among the finest, busiest musicians in South Texas, with long, successful careers spanning several decades, multiple instruments and a wide range of musical styles, and I felt very blessed to be working with them.
Although they had never worked together before this session, Joe and Hank helped produce my new single, “Grandma’s Mandolin” in record time, with minimum fuss and maximum fun along the way. Just a quick set-up on acoustic guitar, mandolin and vocals, then a couple of takes on each track, and we were done. It felt great and sounded pretty good, if I may say so myself.

           Afterwards, as we were packing up our gear, we congratulated each other on a job well done and marveled at how smoothly the session had gone, when Hank casually remarked “It’s so much easier making music these days, now that I’m no longer trying to get rich and famous.”
           We all cracked up over that and shared a good laugh, wordlessly acknowledging the fact that each of us has spent over thirty years being professional musicians – and that for a goodly portion of that time, each in our own way, had spent vast amounts of time and energy working toward “making it big” in the music biz. Not just making the best music we could, but trying desperately to fit into an illusory future that would somehow make us feel bigger, better, richer, stronger, if only the right booking agent or record company representative would show up at the gig; if only the next show would provide the Big Break; if only the next record would yield a hit single; if only…

           Fortunately, we’ve all managed to attain a fair amount of professional success and satisfaction over the years, despite ourselves and our ambitions. But in that moment of shared laughter, we were acknowledging the unnecessary pressures we’d put on ourselves back then, making things much harder than they needed to be, by virtue of trying to be somebody other than who we were. And how much easier, and more fun it is these days, to simply show up at a gig or in the studio with the intention of doing our best, without needing to attach any larger expectations to it.
Now if I could just remember to let this lesson carry over into the rest of my life more often…

With gratitude and blessings,

PS: I hope you’ll check this song out, now that it’s been posted on my website where you can hear it for free, and find the link to download it for just 99¢. Or perhaps you can hear it live, as part of the Cave Without a Name concert I’ll be performing with Hank Harrison and his stellar bluegrass band, TVA, along with several other, top-notch musical friends this Saturday night. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014


            It happened almost twenty years ago, but I can still remember how excited Zet and I were when we went to Houston with a group of Celebration Circle friends to hear the Dalai Lama speak. It wasn't exactly an ideal trip, because it entailed a long drive in a crowded 9-passenger van, followed by a seemingly endless wait in line to get into a huge college gymnasium with terrible acoustics, which made it difficult to understand the revered Buddhist leader speaking in his heavy, Tibetan accent. 
            But none of that mattered. Powerful vibrations of Love and Joy came shining through His Holiness, filling the hall as he urged us all to take heart.  To discover/recover our own capacity for love and compassion. To focus not on him, but on his message of inner peace as the path to world peace. It was very moving, and his eloquent lessons made the journey seem well worthwhile.

            Afterwards, we found ourselves drawn into a cluster of people standing outside the stage door where the Dalai Lama's limousine was parked, hoping for a closer look at him. Zet and several other Circle friends, pressed in nearer, and motioned me to join them, but my observer-self chose to hang back. Suddenly the door swung open and a small army of attendants, police and bodyguards began clearing a path, trying their best to move him from the building into the car as quickly as possible - but he would have none of it. He was clearly enjoying the personal interactions, taking his time in shaking hands, bowing repeatedly, kneeling on the ground to play with a baby, smiling sweetly from ear to ear.
            Eventually, the motorcade drove off, and a joyous afterglow radiated through those of us left standing in the driveway. Zet was wearing a particularly huge smile, along with the white, silk scarf around her neck, which the Dalai Lama had held and blessed for her. But rather than feeling happy for her, my joyfulness suddenly evaporated, as I began beating myself up for not having pressed forward along with my friends for this rare opportunity to have physical contact with such a powerful holy man. If only...

            And then, just as suddenly, I found myself chuckling at the irony of the situation. We had driven 200 miles, stood patiently in long lines, endured terrible acoustics and long waits, just so we could hear, see and touch a sage whose main message was: "Don't look to me; look to your own heart and your own life." And now here I was, busy kicking myself for not having received his personal blessings. What a good joke! 
            It's so easy to mistake the messenger for the message, to focus on the teacher instead of the teachings. To engage in a meditation technique for the pleasurable sensations involved, rather than staying open to what it might reveal at deeper, more subtle levels. To encounter perfectly viable metaphysical tools, yoga poses, interpersonal processes or breath work techniques intended to help us get focused on the inner movements of Spirit - and wind up focusing on the tools themselves instead.
            Sometimes I remember, and sometimes I forget. But mostly, I feel grateful to be enrolled in this wonderfully complex, life-long school of spiritual growth - and for the many teachers that appear along the way. 

With gratitude and blessings,

Saturday, September 6, 2014


           This year, for the first time ever, I didn't help hang the altars for our Sacred Art of Altars show, because I was busy singing and speaking at the Kerrville Music Festival. Consequently, when I went to the opening reception on Monday, I had the chance to experience the full visual impact of this amazing exhibit, in the same way that all the other first time viewers get. Wow! I was blown away by it.

            There's something truly magical about looking down the long hallway, and seeing these particular pieces hanging side by side, in such a creative display of diversity. Having helped count, carry and distribute the 57 identical, bare wooden boxes to the individual artists earlier this summer, it's stunning to see the way those simple, unadorned rectangular forms with identical dimensions sprouted wings (literally in some cases) and acquired such a surprising range of colors, contexts, shapes and sizes in the hands of their individual creators.
            And now that the members of the flock have been reassembled and mounted alongside each other in one row on the main hallway of the theater gallery, they appear to be having a deep conversation amongst themselves about the multiple layers of meaning they've encountered along the way to their destination.

            I've spent most of my adult life learning, teaching, writing and singing about the ever-unfolding consciousness of Oneness. And over the past twenty-three years, Celebration Circle has presented hundreds of gatherings, classes, workshops and retreats exploring tangible ways of expressing the intangible movement of this consciousness in our daily lives.
            It gets mighty tricky trying to demonstrate ways to see beyond the physical dimensions of our existence as separate beings and into the metaphysical realm of our deep interconnection with each other and All of Life. "Finding unity in our diversity" is a noble ideal, and "We Are One" makes for a nice bumper sticker. But words can only go so far before they tend to start tripping over themselves in their attempt to bridge the yawning gaps in logic that inevitably appear when two or more people attempt to "prove" their differing, faith-based points of view.
            But I take heart in the power of art to move the conversation forward. And this particular "One People, Many Paths: The Sacred Art of Altars" exhibit does an especially good job of it, because of the visceral impact it makes. I'm really proud and excited about this year's show, not just because of the quality of the art and artists involved. Not just because the silent auction will help raise much-needed funds for Celebration Circle operations. But because it is one of the best ways to share the Circle's purpose with the general public, as we employ this inclusive, artistic platform to share our desire to "honor and nurture the Sacred in ourselves, each other and All Creation."

            One of my favorite activities is to stand back and watch the faces of the unsuspecting moviegoers as they encounter the multi-dimensional magic of the altars. Most of these folks have only come here to watch a movie, but as they stroll through the gallery on their way to the screening room, many find themselves pleasantly surprised, then captivated by the mystery, majesty and oblique spirituality of all these altars hanging in the hallway, smack dab in the middle of a suburban mall setting.
            Personally, I think of this as being a kind of "sacred sneak attack" on the sensibilities of innocent bystanders -- a gentle, but penetrating way of sharing the awareness that "We Are One" with the broader community in a subtle, but powerful way. It's sort of like guerrilla warfare in reverse: instead of a violent, explosive provocation of death, it's a gentle, inclusive invitation into the wonders of life.
            So, do yourself, and perhaps your loved one(s) a favor, and take this opportunity to go to the Bijou and experience this phenomenon for yourself. Of course, you could go by yourself, but it really is fun to have someone to share insights and comments with. There's no purchase necessary, because the show is free and open to the public during business hours every day this month (although the Bijou does show the best variety of art house films in town, and their Bistro serves a nice range of tasty snacks and drinks...), so this can be a first-rate, low-cost artist's date. Enjoy!

With blessings,