Sunday, December 27, 2015

Reason for the Season A Musical Gift for You December 2015

        During a full week of hosting and attending multiple holiday seasonal gatherings, it's easy for me to start feeling overwhelmed. To counteract this feeling, I do my best to pause throughout the day, to breathe quietly and embrace the gift of the Precious Present. As I do so, I often find myself humming snippets of "The Reason for the Season" - which is the song I wrote several years ago specifically for this purpose.

        Last Sunday in the Circle, Sarah sang a particularly lovely version which I'm sharing with you here. You can click on video link above to hear it, or perhaps simply read the lyrics below. In any case, I wish you rich blessings for the Holiday Season, and hope that you, too, will find time(s) to stop and savor the Precious Present.

  THE REASON FOR THE SEASON                                                         

The Reason for the Season can't be wrapped in pretty paper

or tied up with a ribbon into a perfect bow

you won't find it in the tinsel hanging high up in a treetop

or at a dinner party with candles all aglow

Because the Reason for the Season doesn't stay in far-off places

nor wait for the Wise Men to arrive out of the East

no the Reason for the Season is much closer than imagined

it's as simple as remembering to feel your heart at Peace.


No the Reason for the Season can't be bought by going shopping

or dropping a few quarters in some sidewalk Santa's pot

and you probably won't find it writing cards or baking cookies

or giving to the homeless, who have less than what you've got

For the Reason for the Season can't be found in piles of presents

or baked inside a turkey or a slice of pumpkin pie

no the Reason for the Season is really rather simple

it's the Light of Love rekindled in the hearts of you and I.


Hark the Herald, angels sing, glory to the Newborn King

In the Little Town of Bethlehem and in your hometown, too

As the Child was born of Mary and the Buddha born in silence

and the dawn is born in darkness, may the Light be born in You

in me and you

With joy and blessings to you and yours,


Saturday, December 19, 2015


     As we approach the Winter Holidays, I invite you to spend a few minutes in truly receiving the gift of the Precious Present - "the gift that keeps on giving." This gift manifests in many different ways, but in this moment, you're invited to experience it as Divine Light manifesting in you -- and to remember that it is a very real "reason for the Season"  at this time of the year, with its colder days and longer, darker nights. 
     The gathering darkness takes many forms: personal, political, environmental and social, and it is all too easy to succumb to the many voices of anger, fear and hatred surrounding us. But the Divine Light calls us to see beyond these seeming illusions and focus on a higher, larger vision instead. To focus on the One Light and the Deep Abiding Peace which forms and informs us and everything arounds us.  It is the Light of the Sun, giving life to all on Planet Earth, and it is the Light of the Holy One, vibrating through all of Creation. It is the Light of the Christ Child being born and reborn in you, and it is the Divine Light of Consciousness made manifest in each and everyone of us who is open to the possibilities of Conscious Co-Creation.
     Whether you feel fully aflame, bursting with the Living Light - or able to locate just the tiniest spark in the corner of your heart - know that this Light is Divine, and fills all space and all time. That it is more than enough to Light your way forward on the Path of Life, one day at a time, one small step at a time, one breath at a time, Now.. and Now... and Now... 
     You are also invited to be mindful of the darkness of hatred, war, greed, global warming and environmental devastation which cast their growing shadows over our precious, blue-green planet. Living in denial is not healthy or helpful, so it is important to acknowledge the feelings of fear and despair that sometimes arise in the face of such darkness on both the personal and the planetary level.
     And yet, here, in the silence of this moment, in the safety of this space, you're invited to release all judgements. To choose anew. To see the contractions of darkness for what they are, and then feel the power of choosing to align yourSelf with the expansiveness of the Eternal Light, flowing to you, through you, as an Amazing Peace, a Divine Presence, right here, right now.
     Feel that you are not alone in this process, for there are many others in the Celebration Circle community, as well as countless other Light Workers throughout the world who share this vision and are joined in this consciousness with you. Together we affirm that we are undeterred by our fears, even as we feel them fully, for we find hope in welcoming and embracing the Divine Light. We find hope in the Light we are kindling, whether alone or in one another's presence... hope in our songs and prayers and silences... hope in our actions, taken one step a time...hope in this very moment...a moment pregnant with possibilities for peace, justice and well-being for All.
     We affirm that the Divine Spark is alive and burning in the heart of each and every being on the planet.  And we reaffirm our willingness to see, feel, nurture and support that Divine Spark within ourselves, each other, and all we encounter. May All Beings be Blessed by our willingness to remember and affirm,  LET THERE BE LIGHT!

With blessings on your Holiday Season,

What does the Celebration Circle mean to you?

For Sylvia and Drew, who both work on Sundays and are seldom able to attend Circle gatherings, it's a favorite website where they can watch spiritually meaningful videos and listen to meditations together. For Ronnie, who lives in Denver, but frequently visits her elderly parents in San Antonio, it's a valuable way to sustain her spiritual life while she's far from her own home.
But for Adriana, a hard-working single mother of two, whose family attends almost every Sunday, it's a chance to feel both uplifted and relaxed, while her youngsters are being nurtured in the Children's Circle. For Rick and Sherry, it's a place where their widely-differing faiths have a common meeting ground. Lara enjoyed a much-needed weekend of comfort and tranquility at our Spring Retreat in the aftermath of a difficult divorce. Meanwhile, Mark, Jill and Vince are grateful to have a variety of Circle gatherings where they can meet and mingle with other like-minded, single folks in a relaxed, purposeful way. And Maria, living in Columbia, is grateful for the inspirational quotes sent each day that help her remain centered in her busy life.
The names above have been changed, but the people and circumstances are all true. Just like you, these folks are all fed through their connection to the Celebration Circle, whether they attend seldom or frequently, live in San Antonio or far away. And, it's up to individuals like us to support the Circle financially to help insure that it will be there for us in 2016, just as it has been for the past 23 years.
The fact is that we are a non-traditional, non-dogmatic spiritual community with no official membership rolls, and the majority of our supporters attend our gatherings somewhat sporadically. But, at the same time, we are also a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, and like any other business, we have fixed expenses and financial obligations that continuously function day in, day out, all year long.
Please help us maintain a solid financial foundation by making a year-end contribution to the Celebration Circle so we can continue to provide opportunities for spiritual connections to happen.  

In any case, thank you for your support - past, present and future. Wishing you and yours a peaceful holiday season! With gratitude and blessings,

Celebration Circle Council of Stewards
Rudi Harst, Spiritual Director
Zet Baer, Executive Director

Friday, December 11, 2015


     Armand and Angelina, two truly delightful, metaphysically inclined, musical friends, spent the night at our house earlier this week, as they have a few times before. These wonderful, wandering minstrels were passing through San Antonio on yet another 6-week tour through Texas and New Mexico, which is just a fraction of the 225 days that they will have spent away from their home in Orlando, Florida this year (down from 250 last year!).
     I've had the good the fortune to befriend scores of professional troubadours like them over the past forty years of being in the entertainment business, but these two are unique in the extent to which they've managed to maintain a loving, committed relationship while working, playing and staying so close to each, year after year. Lots of couples try it for a while, but few manage to last very long when the miles and trials of the road-warrior lifestyle start piling up, multiplied by the creative pressures that any two working artists would tend to encounter.
     But, fifteen years after they first met and began performing together, Armand and Angelina are still deeply in love with each other, and truly enjoy crisscrossing the country, sharing their musical messages of harmony, hope and heart-centered living via their elaborately-staged and highly-energized performance style.
     Zet and I have had many such professional travellers stay in our home over the years, and while we've enjoyed all of them, Armand and Angelina have an unusual practice which makes them particularly easy and welcome houseguests:  they always bring their own bedding.
     Because they travel in a mini-van and often stay in a number of different homes and/or hotel rooms in any given week, they've developed an amazingly quick and efficient system of making any bedroom feel like "home."  Upon arriving at their new room for the night, they immediately strip, fold and store whatever linens their hosts have provided, and replace them by unrolling a big bundle containing their own queen-size sheets, blankets and pillows. Then, when it's time to leave, they simply remove and re-roll their bedding, and replace the host's clean sheets, leaving the room neat as a pin and ready for the next guest. Not only does this make life easier on their hosts, but also this technique helps the couple feel more "at home" wherever they go.
     In doing so, they not only demonstrated a handy travel tip, but also reminded me that it's possible to feel at home wherever I am, by simply taking a few minutes to "unroll" the free flow of Spirit that travels with me everywhere. Of course, that's easier said than done, but that doesn't make it any less possible or powerful. Thanks for the reminder, Armand and Angelina - and Happy Trails!
With joy and blessings, wherever your Holiday Season travels may take you,

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Top 5 Things You Really Should Know Before This Sunday

#1. This is the last Sunday to bring toys for the Inner City Development Center Christmas Toy Sale. This unique event allows qualified, low-income parents to buy toys with dignity, paying at a 90% discount, with all funds going to support the ICDC Food Pantry program. So your donation(s) will do double duty!
#2. It's also the last Sunday for the Circle ArtsMart, when Circle artists and vendors will be selling their art and craftworks before and after Circle, from 10:00-11:00am and 12:00-1:00pm. Great place to buy your Holiday gifts!
#3. You may need to take a different route to the Circle this Sunday because many downtown streets will be barricaded from 3am to 1pm for the SA Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. The ONLY sure-fire ways to get to SAY Sí will be via the South Alamo Street exit off Interstate 35, or the Probandt Street exit off Hwy 90.  You can check the race course map for details by visiting
#4.  We'll have even more music than usual on Sunday because our featured vocalist, Sarah Gabriel, who was supposed to sing last week but had to cancel due to illness, will be here this week instead. So I've decided to pack two week's worth of music into one morning, just because we've got a bunch of songs we want to sing for you!
#5. We're meeting in the Black Box Theater (one room over from the gallery space where we usually gather). We'll meet there through January 17th, due to a large exhibit of ceramic vessels by Danville Chadbourne that will be in the Main Gallery space during this period.
So there you have it: a new meeting space, toys, art, rock-n-roll marathon, and an extra large dose of uplifting music - all being served up with a smile this Sunday. It's definitely going to be a highly energetic morning around the Circle!
With joy and hopes of seeing you there,

Saturday, November 28, 2015


    The feast is finished, the leftovers have been dispatched, and the dishes all washed and put away. Thanksgiving Day may be over, but I choose to foster an ongoing attitude of gratitude and make everyday a Thanks Living Day. So, in that spirit, you're invited to watch this four-minute segment from my talk last Sunday on cultivating gratitude, followed by "Everything's A Gift" - a new song written for the occasion.

     It's a live recording, so it's not as polished as a studio recording might have been, but thanks to the technical wizardry and generosity of Eddie Wise and Kiko Guerrero, I think the magic of the moment comes through quite well - and I trust you will agree.


     Or perhaps you'd rather simply sit and simmer in silence, feeling warm, fluid waves of gratitude ripple through you and out into the world. In any case, I hope that you, too, find yourself feeling grateful to be alive, loved and loving - today, and every day. Happy Thanks Living!

 With joy,


PS: To further help celebrate the spirit of Thanks Living, vocalist Sarah Gabriel and I are cooking up an extra big helping of songs that we'll perform (and hopefully, record) with the Circle Band this Sunday. Join us for what promises to be a particularly joyful Sunday Circle!

Friday, November 20, 2015


    Last summer while my daughter and granddaughter were visiting from the Netherlands we got this sweet snapshot of us standing together with Zet, Mateo and my father. Seeing four generations of my family in that one frame always makes me smile, always sends a warm glow through my heart. That's why I keep a print of that shot on my desk, to help me stay grounded in gratitude.
     Anytime I find myself feeling temporarily grumpy, all I have to do is look back at that photo, and feel the power of all that love surrounding me, and I'm back on track to feeling like I'm one of the wealthiest and luckiest men on the planet.
     I'll spare you the intricacies of the details here. Suffice it to say that the backstory of how those people in that photograph came to be interwoven across four generations, three continents and too many miracles to count, is so complex and improbable, that I can't help but feel extraordinarily blessed and grateful for the many gifts that have been showered on me and my family.
     That's why this particular photo is one of my all-time favorite triggers for feeling grounded in gratitude on a regular basis. Even just writing these words sends a flood of warm feelings rushing through me right now.
     So, in the spirit of Thanks Living, I invite you to take a few moments right now to think about one or more of the particular blessings in YOUR life. Won't you allow yourself to focus on your blessing(s), then slip into an attitude of gratitude right now? And let those feelings of gratitude, love and joy ooze out of you, spilling beyond the borders of your physical self and out into the world?  Ahhh...   May all beings be blessed by your willingness to do this!
With gratitude and best wishes for Happy Thanks Living,

PS: I hope you'll be able to join us this Sunday morning at SAY Sí for an extended meditation and reflection on gratitude, and then stay for our Potluck Feast afterwards. A good time will be had -- and it wouldn't be the same without you!

Friday, November 13, 2015


        A thick blanket of fog hovers down low to the ground, and I can scarcely see my dogs as they dart along the path a few yards ahead. It's the first foggy day of autumn, adding an ethereal, otherworldly twist to our daily, early-morning ritual of walking along the gravel trail that winds through our neighborhood along the banks of the San Juan Acequia. We're less than two hundred yards from the Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River walk, but there's not another soul in sight, because this twenty-acre stretch of woods and grasslands is visually isolated from the river.
     Part of me has been instantly, magically transported back through time to 1974 and I'm a young man once more, aimlessly traipsing through the foggy moors of rural England, trying to make sense of life, searching for some far-off, hidden treasure... But the sharp sound of my dogs barking brings me back to the moment at hand, demanding that I pay attention to the large, green grasshopper they've encountered, temporarily floundering on a log next to the path, strands of spider web wrapped around its hind leg.
     I shoo the dogs away to give the hopper time to escape, and in doing so, I notice another spider web draped over the stalk of grass right next to log, and then another web on the next stalk over, then another, and another and another... Holy mackerel! How could I have not noticed this before? There are literally thousands upon thousands of spider webs spread out across this meadow, with a separate web suspended from the tops of almost every single blade, branch and bush in sight. Looking more closely, each shimmering strand of each web is strung with countless tiny, silver dewdrops, creating a breathtaking display of jewelry. Each web is a stunningly complex and eye-catching creation in its own right, but taken as a whole, the vast tapestry of interwoven webs covering acres of meadowland is a potent reminder of just how complex and mysterious nature is, and how wonderfully interconnected we are: grasshoppers, dogs, logs and humans alike.
     Forty years later, I suppose I'm still strolling through a foggy meadow, trying to make sense of life. Only this time, I'm doing so while carrying my treasure inside my heart: a deep sense of reverence, awe and gratitude for the simple gift of being alive. And, at least for now, this is enough.
With gratitude and blessings,
PS: Speaking of travelling through time... I invite you to join me this Saturday night at 8:30pm, when Rudi + the Rudiments will be bringing the Circle vibes to the Olmos Pharmacy, located at at the corner of Hildebrand and McCulloughwith an upbeat blend of original songs and creative cover of tunes from the 60's and 70's. Lots of fun, lots of free parking -- and no cover charge!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Before and After

      My mother had an extraordinarily green thumb; our home was always filled with plants, and almost every window sill in the house held an array of flowerpots and glass jars filled with cuttings in various stages of growth. She stayed pretty busy raising her six sons, but every spare minute she had was spent outdoors in her flower garden, where friends and strangers alike would frequently stop their cars on the street to admire her landscaping and ask for gardening advice.


      Although in recent years I have come to share her love for being out in the garden, I clearly did not inherit her green thumb. So last week it was a little sad, but not at all surprising, to notice that the small, green ivy plant on the corner of the desk in my music room was looking mighty yellow and wilted because it hadn't been watered in weeks.

      So I gave it a good drink, picked off the dead leaves, then sat down to play some music. Not because I had a Sunday Circle or a concert to prepare for, but for the sheer pleasure of letting some melodies come flowing through. Less than an hour later, the ivy looked just as healthy as could be - and I was feeling much better, too. In addition to being a graphic demonstration of how strong the life force can be, it was as if the ivy was reminding me that it had been way too long since I sat down and made music for the sheer of pleasure of "watering" my soul from the inside out.


      I've noticed the same thing is often true when folks come to me for spiritual direction and start talking about some situation they're struggling with. The details may vary, from issues to professional concerns or personal difficulties, but invariably, the basic problem is that they're feeling weary and wilted, because they have neglected to tend to their inner lives with some form of prayer, meditation, reflection - or in my case, artistic expression.

      Having been reminded by that little houseplant myself, now I'm taking the liberty of asking you: How long has it been since your Inner Self has been "watered?" And what in the world have you (and I) been waiting for?

With joy,  


Friday, October 30, 2015

Batman To the Rescue!

      I'm driving through the rain on the six-hour trip back home from East Texas, much like I did two days earlier on my way out here. Only slower this time, because the rain's falling harder and it feels like I've spent at least half an hour, crawling behind a big RV on this winding, two-lane highway. Can't help but feeling a big post-gig slump, the adrenaline of sharing my music at last night's concert in Jacksonville and speaking at this morning's worship service in Tyler having worn off many miles ago.

     As usual, it was a lot of fun singing and speaking both times, but it rained pretty hard all weekend, so attendance was low in both places. I know it shouldn't matter, but somehow it does. Time after time, the old doubts come creeping out of the farthest, darkest corner of my brain, telling me I'm not good enough, feeding my fears of failure, demanding to know why I persist in dragging my guitar out to make joyful noises in so many venues, year after year.


      Eager to drown out those negative thoughts for a while, I slip my "House of Yes" CD into the dashboard stereo, and start harmonizing along with the lyrics, not to any audience or for any reason, other than to remind myself of something bigger than my private, little Pity Party. And that it's my job to stay focused on writing, singing and living my purpose, not to worry about who is or isn't reading, watching or listening.

      As if on cue, a large flock of geese comes flying into view, soaring southward in ever-shifting, staggered V-formations, far overhead. It's clearly just my imagination, but it sure sounds like they're honking in reply to my song, as they fly off into the distance. Could it be that their vocal sounds help them stay aligned and on course during their long journey? Or are they, too, simply singing out for the sheer joy of expressing themselves?


      A few moments later, my iPhone flashes a text notice, and I pull over to check it out, because my dear friend, Jason, has just sent me a short video clip of his young son, Xavier, dressed up in a Batman costume, dancing up, down and all around in Jason's car, with my "House of Yes" song playing in their stereo. Talk about cute. He's got me grinning from ear to ear in five seconds flat!

     I immediately call Jason, who explains that they had just gone to the Halloween store, and afterwards, Xavier had asked his dad to "play the Yes Song" - resulting in the brief video clip of him doing the Batman Boogie, displayed at the top of this page (which you should be able to play by clicking on the arrow. The quality of the image doesn't translate very well from the original iPhone footage, but you get the picture...)  The boy didn't say a word, but his message seems clear: "Lighten up! Enjoy the ride." And so, I do.


      I'm telling you all this by way of reminding you, just as Xavier and the wild geese reminded me: that supportive guides and helpers can take many forms, and are seldom far away, if only we are open to seeing them. At least, that's the song I choose to sing -- and I'm sticking to it.

With joy


Saturday, October 24, 2015


       For the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking a lot about the process of change unfolding within and around me. It probably started when I went to the 45-year reunion of the New Braunfels High School Class of 1970, where I was shocked to see the familiar faces of my youth looking so much older than they seemed just a few short years ago at a previous reunion.
      And that feeling was certainly amplified a few days later by officiating yet another memorial service for yet another friend, while noticing the turning of the seasons, marked by the shift to cooler weather and the piles of brown leaves accumulating on the ground.
      So it's probably no surprise that for the last two Sunday Circles, I've been using my words, music and meditations to reflect on the process of embracing change. What was surprising is the number of people that have made a point of telling me how timely and helpful they found those reflections to be. So I've decided to post the videos of those two Sundays in this space, which I normally use to share a brief story or poem. (see clips, above and below)
      I invite you to invest a few minutes watching one or both of these videos, and meditate on the changes occurring in and around your life. (Each video contains a brief talk of about 8-10 minutes, followed by a guided meditation of about the same length). Perhaps you'll even hit "Reply" on this e-mail afterwards, and share your thoughts on the process of embracing the changes in your life.
      In any case, I send you rich blessings and best wishes as your travel around the Circle of Life during this particular season of change, whatever it brings you.
In peace, 

PS: This weekend I'll be spreading the Celebration Circle vibes in East Texas, performing a solo concert at the First Presbyterian Church Community Hall in Jacksonville on Saturday night
, and speaking/singing at the Unity Church of Tyler on Sunday morning
. If you or a loved one will be in that area this weekend, it would be great to see you there!

Friday, October 16, 2015


Walking outside to get into
my car and 
zoom off to tackle
the first of several errands planned for this day,
I'm stopped 
dead in my tracks
by the sight of
                                    red oak leaf

carried along by the first strong cool, breeze
of the season
Quite a few other leaves
are lying on the ground already,
but this is the first one I've actually watched 
in            super      slow       motion

vividly demonstrating the path we all
must travel eventually
as it spirals downward
following gravity's pull
back into the earth
from which we arose at birth
Just two minutes earlier I was in a
mighty big rush to go somewhere else
but this one, single leaf has hushed my mental chatter  
just long enough
to reveal the mysterious
curvature of time and space in this place where I'm standing
demanding that I slow down
take a deep breath
face into the fact of my eventual death
and give thanks for this moment of simply bearing witness
to the turning of the seasons
once again.

With gratitude and blessings,

Friday, October 9, 2015


       Last month I was able to perform more of my music in more venues, and provide more spiritual direction to more people, than I have in years. It was a true blessing, and I'm deeply grateful for all those opportunities to do what I love to do, yet...I sure was feeling depleted and tired as September drew to a close. I longed to spend some time resting deeply, but couldn't find anywhere that fit either my budget or schedule.
     Fortunately, a good friend offered me the use of his new house in the Hill Country. He recently bought it and is in the process of making small repairs before moving in, so it's empty and unoccupied for now. It's a beautiful, light-filled home, perched on an extra-large, tree-covered lot tucked into a secluded valley on the outskirts of Boerne  - and I'm delighted to be staying here for a few days.
     It's only an hour from home, but it feels light years away from my piled up desk and busy family life in San Antonio. Here, there's very little furniture, no TV and no Internet access, with nothing and nobody to distract me.  I've come with the intention of simmering in sweet solitude and silence for three whole days, not talking with anyone, fasting from words and meditating for long stretches at a time for a change.
     Once I've unpacked the car, gotten my bearings and settled into this delightful new space, I immediately lie down for a full-body relaxation and cleansing meditation. It's heavenly, and I'm feeling deeply blissful when suddenly there's a knock at the door. My first instinct is to keep my eyes closed and simply ignore the intrusion, but the knocking continues. My second instinct is to hide, but the house is virtually empty, and I can tell that the two women on the front porch have already seen me. Slowly, my social instincts force me to open the door for two smiling Jehovah's Witnesses who live nearby and have come to greet their new neighbor.
     Normally, I would quickly send such Bible-toting, door-to-door evangelizers scurrying away with a friendly, but firmly stated summary of my metaphysical beliefs. But this time I hesitate, feeling torn between (1) sticking to my intention to maintain essential silence for three days, (2) honoring my childhood upbringing as an unfailingly polite Southerner, or (3) lingering in my blissed-out state of meditation. The two Witnesses come zooming through the gap, waving their pamplets and launching into a well-crafted spiel with a zeal I can't help but admire.
     Initially, my arms are crossed and my stance is aloof; I just want them to disappear so I can get back to my planned silence and solitude. But they are so sincere, their timing so impeccable, and the religious tract they've just handed me is entitled "Awake!"  How could I possibly ignore their message?
     I can't help but smile inwardly as I realize, once again, the truth of the old Yiddish proverb: "man plans, God laughs." Sure, I had a perfectly good plan for how to spend these next couple of days meditating in silence. But it's also pretty clear that these ladies are here by some kind of Divine Appointment, to remind me not to take myself so darn seriously, and that spiritual lessons (and teachers) can take many different forms.
     Soon enough the women give up, having come to understand that I'm neither their new neighbor, nor a likely convert to their beliefs. When they finally close the door behind them, I pick up my guitar and sing for the sheer joy of it for a while, exulting in the rich, reverberating acoustics of the almost-empty house, then sit down to write these words so I can process the events. And then I'm going to take a long nap.
      I don't know what will happen during the remainder of my time in this quiet, lovely house, but clearly words and music - and more rest - will be part of it, and that's just fine with me. The lesson for today seems to be:  Don't get too attached to your plans. And, whatever you do, be Awake!

With gratitude and blessings,

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Can you help? 

For the next two Sundays, the Circle is supporting the San Antonio Catholic Workers House by holding a drive to collect supplies for the many homeless and needy people who they serve. Please bring the following items in quantities that work for you. They have provided a box that will be at SAY Sí on October 4th and 11th.

Hygiene Supplies: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Toilet Paper, Soap, Shampoo, Razors, Tissues, Wet Wipes, Deodorant, Lotion, Socks, Underwear

Kitchen Supplies: Coffee, Sugar, Creamer, Spoons, Cups, Crock pots, Dish Towels 

For Colder Weather: Hats, Gloves, Jackets, Blankets

Cash donations will also be accepted and/or checks can be made out to: Catholic Workers House, 626 Nolan Street, SA, TX 78202

The Catholic Worker Movement began in 1933, when journalist, Dorothy Day, and philosopher, Peter Maurin, teamed up to publish and distribute a newspaper called "The Catholic Worker." This radical paper promoted the biblical promise of justice and mercy. Grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person, the Catholic Workers remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, and the Works of Mercy as a way of life by serving the homeless, the hungry and the forsaken. Over many decades the movement has protested injustice, war, and violence of all forms. Today there are some 228 Catholic Worker communities in the US and around the world. 

Granted, this collection drive is a very small step in the direction of serving the growing population of people with needs living in our midst, but that doesn't make it any less important. Please consider coming to the Circle this Sunday with at least one handful of helpful gifts to share.

With gratitude and blessings,

Friday, September 18, 2015


           For most of my adult life, I've focused on exploring, experiencing and expressing an inner path to personal and planetary peace. It's been my work, play, passion and pleasure.  It's richly rewarding work, but filled with plenty of challenges and confusion along the way. Engaging in this process of reading, writing, contemplating and communicating about the power of making conscious choices in daily life can feel very fertile and futile by turns, because there's always more to learn.
            Over the years I've had the good fortune to share this work in a variety of contexts: concerts, classrooms, congregations, corporations - and, of course, the Celebration Circle community. I can't speak to the value of what I'm able to contribute to the effort, but time and again, I'm amazed at the deep feelings I receive from other peacemakers I meet on this path. Their gifts can take many forms, each with its own weight and measure to add to my inner treasury.
            That was definitely the case last Sunday, when a sweet, nine-year girl named Cira shyly handed Zet a tightly folded note after our Closing Circle. If you can read the words of her poem in the photo above, perhaps you understand why my eyes started welling up with tears when I saw it. But, just in case the words aren't legible on your computer or mobile device, here's what she wrote (with a few spelling changes for clarity):
Sometime I wonder why
there's so many cruel people in this world 
and helpful, kind people too
It's your choice if you
want to bloom like
a rose or rot like
[an] apple core.
Everybody has a blooming
flower inside of them.
Thanks so much for sharing your gentle reminder, Cira!
With gratitude and blessings,

         In the spirit of sharing peace, I am playing music for a production of "Waiting For The Moon" at the Carver Community Cultural Center, 226 N. Hackberry at 8:00pm tonight. This dramatic performance combines the powerful words and imagery of local Syrian poet, Lahab Assef Al-Jundi, with contemporary interpretive dance by Fa Winsborough and Stardust Dance Company plus music by Swami Ananda Nadayogi. This performance speaks to the peace efforts and the lives affected in war torn Syria. Tickets are $20 and available at the door. For more information visit the Carver website here.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Did you get to read the article about Celebration Circle that was featured in the San Antonio Express-News last Sunday? Written by Elaine Ayala, Staff Reporter and Religion Editor, it was the cover story of the Faith Section, a separate pull-out magazine tucked into the middle of the paper.
            It sure felt good to get such great publicity for the Circle in our city's daily paper.  It was also interesting to see our community through the eyes of a professional, outside observer like Ms. Ayala, based on what she learned by interviewing Zet and I for almost two hours, then attending a Sunday Circle, before filing her article.
            Her article appears below, partially because I'd love for you to be able to read it, if you haven't already done so, but also because I'm wondering what YOU might have added (or subtracted) from the article had Ms. Ayala interviewed you. If, after reading her words, you have some of your own to add, I'd love to hear what you have to say. If you would like to share your comments please send them here.

Group looks to diverse faiths to form its own; In Celebration Circle, 'We Are One'San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Sunday, September 6, 2015
Author: Elaine Ayala

The people of Celebration Circle break bread as part of their Sunday services. They sing praise songs, light candles, pray for peace and people, near and far, and listen for a message of hope.

But like Native Americans, they start services by facing north, south, east and west, opening themselves up to the four directions and to all creation. "O, great spirit," they sing in unison, "earth, sun, sky and sea." In a nod to New Age spirituality, they engage in guided meditation. 

And like many church congregations, they have a band - "a great band," said spiritual director Rudi Harst, and a key element. 

In all these traits, the independent San Antonio group has drawn from diverse faiths to create one all its own, unfettered by a denomination, hierarchy or headquarters. 

Its oft-repeated mantra: "We are one." 

Now in its 23rd year, Celebration Circle was founded by two San Antonians with deep roots in community and faith. It meets Sundays in the SAY Sí building on South Alamo Street. Its weekly meditation circle is held Wednesday nights at the Quaker Meetinghouse, 7052 N. Vandiver. 

Harst comes by faith honestly. "It was very much in our DNA to find a meaningful relationship with God," he said of his Eurasian family. He self-identifies as Unitarian Universalist and says God can be Jesus, Allah, Buddha or any other deity. He won't argue with the righteousness of any of them. 

But he's not as interested in talking about God "as I am experiencing God," he said. 

Celebration Circle, which honors "the sacred in ourselves, each other and all creation," doesn't have members. "You can't join because everyone belongs," Harst said. 

About 200 people attend in any given month, and about 300 give on some level; some once; some more routinely. 

They are a diverse lot - Anglo, Latino, African-American and Asian; young and old; singles and families. It's a come-as-you-are affair. 

Celebration Circle, a 501c3 nonprofit group, is a reflection of its two founders, Harst and his wife, Zet Baer, its executive director. 

Third-generation Indonesian Dutch, Harst was born in Holland, where his family immigrated after World War II. His grandfather, a lay minister in Jakarta, was imprisoned by the Japanese during their occupation of Indonesia. The family landed in the United States, again as refugees, sponsored by a New Braunfels church, to which Harst's parents remained faithful. 

His challenging upbringing was informed by the civil rights movement. "White people thought we were Mexican," he said. "Mexicans knew full well we weren't." He never felt that he quite belonged. 

Two of his brothers became ministers; two others cops. "What does that tell you of our need to find order in a disordered world?" he asked. 

At Trinity University, Harst continued to ask questions about God, spirituality and consciousness. But he had little interest in theology. 

On a recent Sunday, he talked about the world's obligation to assist immigrants seeking refuge from poverty and violence. "Love your neighbor as yourself," he said. "It's not just a good idea. It's the way forth." 

Much of what Harst is and does, spiritually, is related to music. He picked up the guitar after watching the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and has played ever since. 

Zet Baer grew up in the Methodist Church and says her main spiritual foundation came from her grandmother, who rooted her "in her belief in the divine." Her faith was also inspired by the sense of community she felt there. 

At the University of Texas at Austin, the artist and organizer (she coordinates the King William Fair, too) practiced yoga and embraced New Age spirituality. She explored Buddhism, meditation and dance. She teaches Journey Dance, and she said it's part of her spiritual practice. 

Harst and Baer, both 63, lead Celebration Circle with a council of stewards. Harst jokes they have "full-time jobs with part-time pay." 

September is a busy month. Celebration Circle's 12th annual altar exhibit at Santikos Bijou Cinema just opened. Each of its nichos, or small shrines, began as raw pine wood frames. Each was transformed into a work of faith and art. "One People. Many Paths: Sacred Art of Altars" will close Sept. 30 with its silent auction. The 2012 film "The Way," starring Martin Sheen, will be screened. Tickets are $15; $20 at the door. 

On Sept. 19, Celebration Circle will host another fundraiser that speaks to its unique brand of religiosity. Held in the Cave Without a Name near Boerne, "Underground Sounds" will celebrate the fall solstice with a concert featuring guitar, percussion, flute, keyboard, the Indian violin and didgeridoo. 

Vocals will soar 90 feet from the surface in a cavern brimming with stalactites and stalagmites. Part of the concert will be performed in total darkness. And in those moments, deep in the ground, Celebration Circle will remind those who attend that, as one, people must be worthy stewards of the Earth.    

PS If you are a digital subscriber to the Express-News, here is the link
 to the entire article with photos. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015


             I'm cleaning the roof and gutters at home today. It's one of those unavoidable chores every homeowner around here must face: clearing the leaves and twigs that dropped over the long, dry summer before the rainstorms come (hopefully) as they often do in South Texas.

            This task involves a fair amount of work, clambering up and down the ladder while hauling tools, inhaling some dust and pollen, crawling around the edges of the roof and digging my hands through the gutters to dislodge the tightly packed organic matter. Meanwhile, I'm doing my best to ignore the fluttering sensations in my chest each time I look down to see the looming distance between my head and the ground below.
            It's a little bit thrilling, a little bit scary, and a whole lot of sweaty, but it's a task that needs to get done. On the whole, I don't mind too much, because it's such a sweet, satisfying feeling when the job is finally finished and I get to stand on the newly swept roof, surveying the empty gutters and the unfettered view of our yard and gardens below.

            Even as I stand feeling quietly elated, I know all too well that it'll be necessary to climb back up here to do the very same thing this winter, after all the autumn leaves have fallen and the gutters have gotten clogged again. That's just the nature of the task and one of the ongoing joys of home ownership.
            As I continue to stare at the view, I suddenly become aware that this would be a good time to clean my "spiritual gutters" from the inside out, too. That as summer winds down and autumn approaches, it would be helpful to undertake a day or two of extended meditation, time for some extra study or prayer work. It's just one of those things that needs to be done periodically for the sake of maintaining a clear, well-functioning internal guidance system for navigating life.  I don't know what form it will take, but I make a silent promise to devote at least one full day, maybe two or more, to clearing out the inner debris that has piled up over the course of another busy season, full of doing, going and growing...

            Does this thought ring true for you, too? If so, you know what to do, don't you? In any case, I send rich blessings on your spiritual path, wherever it may lead in the coming days and weeks ahead.

With joy,

PS:  If, for whatever reason, you aren't able to give yourself the gift of time for rest and reflection before then, consider coming to the Circle's Fall Retreat that Zet and I will be facilitating at Slumber Falls Camp in New Braunfels on October 16-18.  I guarantee you'll be glad you did!

Saturday, August 29, 2015


          I walk into the gallery at SAY Sí the way I often do on Sunday mornings, carrying an armload full of equipment while going through an extensive mental checklist of things that need to get done before our 10:00am sound check. Half a dozen folks are already hard at work, setting up the sound system, making coffee and putting out chairs as I check in with our technical director, Eddie Wise, who's explaining the intricacies of a new technique for running the mixing console. I'm happy to be here, but I'm a little tired and my mind is going at least a hundred miles per hour while I bounce from one task to the next.
            All of a sudden, five year-old Anjéa enters the room with her father, smiling even more radiantly than usual, eager to show off the gap where a tooth is missing from her lower jaw. "I lost my tooth!" she said, as excitedly as a grownup might have exclaimed, "I just won the $1,000,000 lottery!" This isn't exactly a surprise, because Anjéa has made a point of demonstrating how wiggly her tooth was getting over the past several weeks of Sunday Circles. Still, she is so fully alive and joyful in this moment that I can feel my mood shift instantly in response to her dazzling smile because her joy is definitely contagious!
            What's so striking is that she isn't just happy because the adults are paying extra attention to her, or because the Tooth Fairy left two dollars under her pillow, but because she can see where her new front tooth is beginning to appear, barely showing above the gum line. More than anything, she's simply exulting in this physical proof of her own growth, in the visible march of loss and gain moving through her body.
            What she's really saying is, "Look - I'm growing! Isn't that exciting?" Of course, it is wonderful to witness, and I'm happy for her happiness, but for a few moments, I'm also feeling a little jealous, too... How long has it been since I've felt THAT much joy in the awareness of my own body, much less celebrated the losses in my life with the absolute certainty in the goodness of growth that she's demonstrating?  
            But then, a few seconds later, a new thought occurs, as if it's been injected directly into my brain stem by the gleam in her eyes, demanding to know: "Why not celebrate your losses as well as your gains? Why not feel that much joy and enthusiasm right now? Since the word "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek word enthous, meaning "possessed by a god" (theos), why not come back to the awareness of the ever-renewing, free flow of Spirit moving through you and all creation, right now?"
            Why not, indeed?
With gratitude and enthusiasm,

          PS: Speaking of radiant energy, last Sunday's Circle was truly blessed by Josh Glenn performing his latest, multi-layered, symphonic compositions. He's shared his music with us on a number of occasions over the past five years, and has always been well received, but this time it was quite evident that his artistry and originality as a guitarist, vocalist and composer have taken a quantum-leap forward. He got a rousing standing ovation, and a wonderful reception when he announced that he's begun production on his first solo CD project, for which he's seeking pre-sales support via You can hear some his preliminary tracks and decide if you, too, would like to add your support by clicking here
.  Personally, I can't wait to hear what the fully produced version of the Josh Glenn Experiment sounds like! 

Friday, August 21, 2015


          I greet this day with a grateful heart.Starting now, I choose to cultivate an attitude of gratitude foreveryone, everything and every situation I encounter today. I embracethis day as adventure, knowing that only good can come from mywillingness to greet whatever I encounter today as a gift, waiting tobe unwrapped and received with the expectation of grace arriving.

If at any point I findmyself resisting one of these "gifts," I am committed toshifting my perspective at the moment I become aware of myresistance. I chose to travel my path with a grateful heartthroughout the day ahead.

            However, I also give myself permission in advance to "fail" --- knowing full well that I will almost certainly forget this attitude of gratitude as being my chosen modus operandi. Having given myself this permission, I am free to notice my resistance behaviors without judgment, whenever I encounter them. Rather than beating myself up for having forgotten, I will simply accept that this "forgetting" too, is just another gift I've been given, as an opportunity to remember to shift back gently to my chosen stance: "I greet everyone and everything I encounter today with a grateful heart."
            Even as I write these words, I noticed that my neck and left shoulder are particularly stiff and sore this morning. It hurts. I feel myself starting to complain, rooting through my memories of yesterday to find out what "caused" this pain. "Surely it was something you ate, or did, or didn't do that made this happen," grumbles my Monkey Mind, doing his best to add another level of shame to this Blame Game he just loves to play...
            But rather than arguing with him, resisting the bodily sensations of soreness and spending time trying to find the culprit who's causing this discomfort, I remember that this pain, too, is a gift. One that I choose to greet with an attitude of gratitude. Within moments of making this new choice, I become aware that this "pain in the neck" is a clear body signal that I am out of alignment with myself, and that this is a personalized, hand-delivered invitation for me to do what it takes to get my life back into balance. No need to go into the details here; I'm clear on what needs to be done, and feel a renewed commitment to actually doing it.
            I'm also feeling grateful for the appointment I made earlier in the week to see my chiropractor later this morning. Based on our long-term relationship stretching back over 25 years, I'm pretty sure Dr. Owen can provide significant relief from this pain, as long as I do my part. This awareness, in turn, reminds me to be grateful that our family has enough money to pay for his services - which, in turn, triggers an overwhelming sensation of the abundance permeating every facet of my life.
            "Baloney," interjects my Monkey Mind into this internal conversation I'm having, wanting desperately to pop my balloon. "That's so phony! You're just being Pollyanna Positive."
            I can feel myself starting to contract in reaction to that old Monkey Mind voice, once again. It's a syndrome I know all too well. But today, rather than trying to drown him out, I remember that his presence, too, is a gift, as long as I remember to shift my perspective and welcome his voice as a reminder that I have a new choice now. And now. And now...
            I love the way this Game of Gratitude works! Which is why I choose to repeat what I said earlier, " I greet everyone and everything I encounter today with a grateful heart."  That's my story, and today, I'm sticking to it.
With gratitude and blessings,

Sunday, August 16, 2015


          This morning, watching as our increasingly independent, sixteen year-old son, Mateo, got on his bike and rode off to buy breakfast tacos on his own, without asking for any cash, much less my parental permission or companionship, my mind drifted off on a dewy-eyed trip down memory lane, back to the days of his youth. General reminiscences of his soft little fingers tucked into mine while crossing busy streets, gave way to images of one particular day when Mateo was about four years old and we were playing a game he had made up called "The Guy in Charge". This involved a role-reversal, where for a couple of hours, Mateo was the one in charge of making decisions about where we went, what we ate and how to do/not do things. Of course, I reserved the parental veto power during the game, though I did my best to refrain from exercising that option except when absolutely necessary for the sake of our safety or financial sanity.
            This time, Mateo wanted to ride a VIA trolley car, so we parked the car near downtown and found our way to the nearest bus stop. He picked which of the two trolley routes we took, paid the conductor our fare and chose our seats. But a few minutes later, bored with sitting on the trolley, he wanted to get off and run around. I was a little disappointed, since we'd only ridden a few blocks and felt we hadn't gotten our money's worth of bus fare. But with my fingers firmly tucked into the grasp of his little hand, he led me off the bus at the next stop, and onto the steps of the nearby gazebo at Alamo Plaza.
            Soon he was zooming up and down those steps, climbing the railings and running laps around the snow-cone vendors, insisting that I keep up with him every step of the way. I did my best for awhile, but was no match for his boundless wellspring of youthful energy, so I was grateful when he wanted to go look inside the Alamo, where I hoped to find a bench where I could sit and rest. But he quickly realized that this was one of those buildings where people are supposed to stay very quiet and keep their hands off everything - and he wanted no part of it. But he also knew that his father wasn't up for any more running or climbing. It was time for a different strategy.
            Grabbing one of the free maps of the Alamo grounds from the information rack he headed out the door. Once outside, he unfolded the map and studied it very intently, turning it this way and that. "What are you doing?" I asked.
            "Deciding which way to go on this map," he said with a disarming mixture of nonchalance and confidence, as if he really could read the words and discern directions, which he clearly couldn't. But without skipping a beat, he pointed confidently down the street, saying, "The map says we should go that way!"
            Off we went, wandering through the heart of downtown San Antonio and the Riverwalk area, with Mateo "reading" his map periodically, each time pointing in another direction with absolute certainty that "the maps says we should go this way!" Down to the river level, up to the street level, back down to the river, going in and out of one store after another. He found the lobby of the Riverwalk Hyatt Hotel particularly entertaining, because there were several sets of glass-sided elevators, from which we could watch an endless parade of pedestrians walking through the sprawling, fountain-filled lobby below while zooming up and down between eleven floors. Each time we emerged from one elevator, he would consult the map again, and then solemnly declare, "The map says we should take that elevator next." It was hilarious, though I did my best to keep a straight face.
            It was probably during our ninth or tenth consecutive elevator ride that I couldn't help chuckling, when I realized that what made this particular adventure so funny was that Mateo was mirroring the way I often act when faced with Big Decisions: I tend to defer to someone else for advice or instructions on what to do. Whether it's a therapist, a friend or the author of some bestselling self-help book, there's this temptation to think that some outside "authority" can make the decisions for me, ignoring the fact that there really is no external map that can guide me through the complex interior landscape of my soul's path through life.
            Of course, others can and do provide valuable insights. But sooner or later, I have to set aside my "map" and all the other external sources of information, then turn within to align with the Still Small Voice, and claim the power of making my own choice(s) from the inside out. Only then can I stop zooming up and down on the "elevators" of thoughts, feelings and emotions long enough to return to the place of peace, harmony and abundance which is my birthright...
            That was twelve years ago. Although his soft little fingers have become much longer and stronger, and he's much more likely to be playing his guitar than wandering around downtown with me, the lesson he taught me that morning continues to come in handy. Thanks, Mateo!
With joy,