The message of Father O’Donnell one Sunday morning had hit the spot, as the old Irish priest like to say. There was more than one parishioner squirming in their seat as he explained the true meaning behind ‘loving thy neighbor as thyself’.
He had been at pains to stretch the commonly held view of the term ‘neighbor’… turning the good Samaritan story into one of race, politics, gender, age and social standing, so much so that the person in trouble could have been anyone alive today… as could the person who reaches out to lend a helping hand.
Father O’Donnell returned to his modest villa on the outskirts of San Antonio believing that he had done all he could to explain this simple but most important piece of the gospel pie.
But as we know good reader it’s not what is said that matters, but what is heard.
Mrs Jones always sat on the front row of the Church. On that particular morning she had managed to drag Mr Jones along too and it was he who gave his good wife of 30 years a nudge in the ribs at the mention of loving thy neighbor.
You see, Mrs Jones had been at war with just about every neighbor in their street… for years. It could have been an argument over a fence that was too tall, a hedge that had over grown into the Jones yard, a garden or front lawn that had gone to seed, a political sign posted in a window promoting the ‘other’ party, the noise of other people’s kids playing in the street, the wafting odors of foreign cuisine, the barking of a dog, the dumping of rubbish in the local park, a late night party or two or, anyone who smoked, drank alcohol or cussed in public.
Not a regular Church goer by any means, Mr Jones liked the message so much that he considered coming back next week. On the drive home he turned to Mrs Jones and said, “And how is it you intend to reconcile yourself with any of our neighbors my dear. Shall we be the good Samaritans and reach out…”
But before he could utter another word, Mrs Jones interjected. “Father O’Donnell didn’t mention anyone like the people on our street. Not a soul. Let’s be clear. The message was for other’s who don’t yet know how to love their neighbors. Not us! My conscious is clear on that matter. Now, what shall we have for lunch.”
A pleasant Sunday afternoon, when not gigging or on tour, is to lay down on the lounge in the living room and, read a good book. As a rule, I read just about anything, but the Sunday read has to be one of a lighter nature; a Spike Milligan memoir, a spy thriller, A Rumple of the Bailey short story or, a who dun-nit.
If the week has been overloaded with work, meetings, people visits, gigs and ‘late nights’ then I’ll read but a few pages before I fall into the best of sleeps. I think this may have been why God invented Sunday’s… so that we could drift off into that beautiful dreamy sleep world… a realm in which the sub conscious rules supreme. These are the happiest of times and I wish more days would leave me feeling as relaxed and ‘glad to be alive’ as my Sunday arvo’s do.
Like the proverbial cat, I may sleep for just a minute, before waking briefly to the sound of a passing car, the ring of telephone, the noisy upstairs neighbor, before dozing off again, returning to my favorite town of Neverland.
I don’t need more than 15-20 minutes to find that ‘all is well in the world’ feeling and, for some time after, I carry with me a notion that I have been somewhere special.
It is in the waking from these cat naps that my eyes open to the shapes on the ceiling. My sub conscious still in charge, my child like imagination sees a world unfold above me. Were the plasterers of the 30’s aware of their handiwork? Were they leaving messages for some sleepy eyed musician in the next century to interpret? Is there something I am meant to do with all this information… write a song, tweet the president… or just relax and enjoy.
Right above me I see a lion in roaring motion. Looking into the face of the roaring lion and, very much unperturbed, I must say, is Leprechaun with a very long chin and a tall pointy hat… oh maybe he’s supposed to be Merlin, for I now see a very wobbly wand in his right hand. If I told my head to the right, the Lion looks more like a dolphin with the tail of a horse. The Leprechaun already knew that I guess… which was why he wasn’t worried about the toothy snarl of the Lion… which was really a Dolphin. I think it’s a mermaid who’s under the dolphin. Well that would make sense. But the Mermaid’s tail, if I tilt my head to the left is a bird in full flight. Oh there so much to ponder and… enjoy.
I wonder, is every ceiling a stage, on which men, woman, lions, leprechauns and dolphins are merely players?
I’ve only examined but a square foot of the ceiling when there’s a knock on the door.
My delightful sojourn into my very own Peter Pan moment is at an end.
Till next Sunday afternoon.
I came across this sketch yesterday by William Ely Hill.
Originally published as a cartoon in a 1915 publication of Punch, the clever man titled this ‘My Wife and My Mother in Law’ with the caption “They are both in this picture — Find them”
Who do you see at first glance?
For me it was the mother in law… and apologies to Annie, God rest her soul, who was nothing like the grumpy old lady depicted here. Karyn’s mother was a woman of love, grace, country hospitality with a wonderful ‘pull your leg’ sense of humor.
There was an occasion when I first met Annie. Karyn and I had just started to date and thus, I was on my very best behavior, trying to be polite and well mannered among the potential ‘in-laws.’ We had just finished a fine home cooked meal when Annie asked what I’d like on my ice-cream.
“Oh anything you like Mrs Frankland” I said, trying ever so hard to be deferential and genteel.
“Really,” she replied… with that mischievous smile of hers.
She returned a few minutes later with a bowl of ice-cream, it’s topping, a mixture of peanut butter, Vegemite, tomatoes sauce and hundreds of thousands. I thanked her, took a mouthful and told her how yummy it was. I ate the rest without another word. We had both met a kindred soul… and there would be many more moments like this down the long and windy road of our relationship… when we could put our respective sense of humor’s to the test.
But I am off track. Forgive me.
For there is more to this sketch than the mother in law and, if you tilt your head to the left, you might well notice the profile of a pretty young woman.
My Wife and My Mother-in-Law is a famous ambiguous optical illusion in which a woman appears to be both young and old as our brain flips back and forth between two conflicting perceptions.
It is this ability to tell more than one side of the story that I’d like to become better at myself, in my songs, my stories, my teaching.
I hope too that I can learn to see a story, an incident, a news item, a scandal and so on… from many perspectives… not rushing to judge as quickly as I am prone to do.
I continue to be… a work in progress.
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.
Or to get a little taste of the evening, check out these other videos posted (by audience members) on Facebook.
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 have been taking the “Let it Go” show on the road of late as part of the Identity Series.
Synopsis: In His presence… as I begin to let go of who I think I am, of the hurts and struggles of the past, of the sins of my father and the guilt and disappointments that have held captive my heart… I make room for the real me to emerge. Like Lazarus materializing from the tomb, once strangled by that deathly shroud of the old man, of my old ways, I come alive… I am reborn… to be the person I was always meant to be… the precious child God knew before I was born. Jer 1:5 “Before you were born I knew you…”
This is a process of healing that begins in worship and continues with the learned prayer practices of Letting Go… of casting not just my cares upon the Lord but everything that keeps me in that prison of false or misshapen identity.
The Closer I am to Him, the closer I am to myself… the closer I am to myself… the closer I am to Him.
Here’s a video of a live session from CBC, the Church family that helped us move to California back in 93.
My bit starts at 4:41.
November 8, 2015