Dear friends, I have just returned (to LA) from a whirlwind 3 week tour of NZ and Australia on behalf of Planted by the Water during which I labored alongside old friends and new, performing in clubs, bars, Churches and house concert events. I led some worship, did a bit of teaching, shared a few of our collective ‘church in the bar’ adventures and, mentored a whole lot of creative artists, songwriters, musicians and singers. It fed my soul in a delightful way to be doing what comes most natural to me.
Thanks to everyone who supported our endeavors either through the donating of funds, attending and or participating in our events. Thanks too for the many and varied gifts; all the comfortable beds and quiet places in which to sleep, all the scrumptious meals, coffees and local foods and wines and, all the rich conversations around kitchen tables, in coffee shops and bars, on Church pews, in backyards and on long walks or the bus, train, car, ferry and plane rides.
Apologies to all the people we didn’t get to see this trip. We are planning another expedition down under (and other destinations) later this year and so, if you are interested in hosting an event (or two) now’s the time to say so… either by sending us an email or messaging me on Facebook.
I am a tad weary (in a good way) but very much encouraged, with a clearer view (than I have had for some time) of the role Planted by the Water is to play. With many invitations to teach, set up workshops and create events from community leaders around the world, we now must find the wisdom and or the resources to map out the where, how, when and who for this coming season.
Thanks (in advance) for your prayers, words of wisdom and encouragement and, your generous financial support.
Of course, I don’t need any convincing as to the power of music but when I read this piece on the brain in The New Yorker (the level of my bathroom reading has reached new heights of late)… I knew that I had to share this with y’all.
It turns out, that when Dr Shewmon entered college (Harvard) he was an avowed atheist, but one morning, while listening to Chopin’s Trois Nouvelles Études No.2 in his dorm room he had an epiphany. The music had lifted him into such a state of ecstasy that he no longer thought it possible that all conscious experience, particularly one’s perception of beauty, could be (as is taught in 99.99% of medical universities around the world) a ‘mere electrophysiological epiphenomenon’. The music, you see, had transcended for him “all of the spiritual limitations of matter.”
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. – Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio
Shewmon would convert to Catholicism to study Aristotelian-Thomastic philosophy and, for the past 20 years or more, he has been, not just one of the world’s leading neurologists, but an annoying pebble in the shoes of all the ’sensible’ doctors and scientists in his field.
If you are in need of an epiphany yourself, may I prescribe a course of Chopin and then perhaps a long walk in the woods.
We have officially kicked off the 2018 House Concert season with a great Party in the Casa Clark gardens in San Juan Capistrano. It will be the first of many, not just locally in southern California but also in homes & gardens all across the US, NZ, Australia and Europe. We are in the planning mode… so watch this space for an upcoming event near you.
This first one was sold out, with standing room only. 60 people of all ages and backgrounds shared food, wine and stories (many of them meeting for the first time) while us musicians played several sets of our favorite tunes, a mixture of folk, jazz, soul, gospel and world music.
The band featured the world renowned British musician Terl Bryant (Iona, Peter Gabriel, John Paul Jones) on drums, Danny Ybarra on percussion, Sandra Stephens and Cerissa Mc Queen on vocals and Chris Falson on vocals, guitar and bad jokes.
As our Party for the Soul tour continues, we are heading north to partner with our friends in Switzerland. From Dec 1st through to Jan 11 (2017) we will be ‘doing our thing’ in bars, clubs, Churches up and down the country… with a few impromptu House concerts thrown in for our very generous hosts… and anyone game enough to invite us in. With more events to be confirmed…
Here’s a little taste of some (very live) Fondue for the Soul…
I was thinking today of the deep sense of belonging I have when, after I am able to find the quietness in me, I can be still long enough to ‘enter’ God’s presence. All I need is a moment, and the weight of the world falls from my shoulders and I remember once again who I am… and that I have some value… and an important job to do.
I am not sure what your typical day looks like but mine is mostly one of chaos in which I am constantly battling my way through a jungle of work, stress, finances, emotional ups and downs, fatigue, ‘getting older’, other people’s expectations of me and my own distorted view of the path ahead.
When David so beautifully wrote “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere…” he knew what he was talking about.
We are each designed to be an important part of a puzzle… of God’s great plan. The plan doesn’t make sense unless all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.
I need you to be you as much as you need me to be me.
We spend so much of our time not really knowing who we are or believing the lie that we don’t have anything of value to offer our community… and or we see more value in another and so then we try to be like him or her… and that doesn’t work… no matter how hard we try.This is why… the one moment alone with our “Dad’ is so imperative.
Without water we dehydrate, without oxygen we suffocate, and without some aloneness with His spirit we depreciate our own spirit, our identity and our value to each other.
So please do me a favor will you… put down your phone… and take a stroll along the beach or sit for a few minutes in the garden or hide yourself away in the attic, or turn off the car radio on your way home from the office… and be silent and try to enter that mysterious place of welcome, of identity, of permission… to be encouraged, to be reminded of the simplicity of who you are and how valuable you are to the rest of us.
We each have something priceless, a ‘thing we do’… that we take for granted, often unable to recognize its value or worth to others.
Some of us can create a gourmet meal out of bread crumbs and leftovers, or see the potential in an old ramshackle house and turn it into a mansion, or enter a pig stye and tidy and clean it as if it were our own, or sit, listen and stay with someone who needs to download their grief or the gripes, or keep a secret and rebuild broken trust, or hug and hold and carry a deeply wounded person, or just be there for that broken soul when all seems lost.
Most of these actions of love go unheralded. Rarely do leaders or public speakers applaud the many actions of unconditional love by ordinary folk on a day to day basis. There is no big story or answer… just lots of little conversations.
I don’t have too many of the qualities mentioned above… neither do I have an abundance of silver and gold… but I can sit and strum and sing for hours to someone who needs a little peace. And regarding this small thing… I am slowly learning that, in a way, it’s my contribution to the community around me.