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,