The Contemplative Sinner

The style and sound of this earthy, unpolished contemplative worship is not new for me… I have been making this ‘noise’ most mornings in my living room, studio or home office for over 30 years. It is not a recording made to impress (it is raw and live and carefree) but rather something precious to share with a friend, a fellow seeker or traveler. If, like me… you appreciate that there’s a voice of guidance when you need it, calling you back to the place of new beginnings… or the sacred practice of the quiet time… then you might find solace in this series of live, open ended prayer songs. It is Easter and though I wrote this song long, long ago… I sing it today… a marker for prayer and realignment, as if I wrote it today.

The Wash My Sins Away (Prayer Song) is part of a much larger series, ‘When I’m at the Water’s Edge’... with new tracks being added each week… until I run out of songs to sing.

When I’m At My Best

When each of us are at our best we are calm and wise folk. We are at rest within ourselves, we are sensitive and empathetic to the needs of others… we are agents of hope, peace and love to those around us.

Then there’s the unfortunate reality that we find ourselves during most hours of most days… when we are at war with ourselves… especially in this season of disruption. Fear becomes our greatest foe and if we are not careful, we so easily fall into the trap set for us, wallowing in its dark, cold and hopeless prison of despair, gloom and doom.

It is said that we should be thankful for hard times and today I can say amen to that… for if it weren’t for these calamitous times and, the recognition that the dark clouds have for too long been stealing my joy, I may not have returned to my cave of guitars and songs to do what I know to do best.

I cannot cure the virus or aid the doctors and scientists in their endeavor to do so. I cannot feed all of the poor or house the homeless or advise the government leaders on what to do next. And being in a constant state of anxiety… worrying about the virus, or of tomorrow, of what I may eat or if I can pay the bills or, of what may become of us all… will not help me or anyone else… but rather drive me in the fast lane towards a state of madness (which is fast becoming the 51st state of the union.)

But there’s one thing I can do that gives me peace of mind… and sets me on a path to be at my best, to be the man of peace, hope and love that I was born to be… and that is… to pick up my old guitar, to sing and strum and go seeking out the God of the uncomplicated love. It may seem like such a simple endeavor and yet it is one that has soothed this troubled soul for many a year.

And so it is… that I am recording some of my own ‘quiet times’ and making them available for others… FOR FREE so that they can either use my medicine as their own or… be inspired perhaps to make their own quiet times a daily antidote against the very loud noise of pessimism from the social media and cable news outlets.

Playing music and singing songs are like metaphysical antioxidants. They clean out the junk, the heavy metals (no pun intended) inside our brain and our soul… the worries (and often lies) that weigh heavy upon us. 10-15 minutes of prayer or contemplative music does wonders for our spirit-person… for I know that if I can manage this practice each morning before I brave the world… I am able to arm myself with shield and sword and, rediscover that priceless childlike perspective and countenance I once so cherished.

I will keep adding these languid song-prayer-sessions to this strange album and my hope is that listeners can find a way into their own special quiet places and or become contagious carriers of peace, hope and into their own communities, real or virtual.

Much love… and be safe out there.

Chris

Neighbors

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.”

The Wife or the Mother in Law?

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.

 

A Great Tour Down Under

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.

Jamming with The Dan Hannaford Band (and 800 fans) at The Rails Hotel, Byron Bay

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.

Your friend,

Chris

Take Some Chopin With Your Tea

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.

First House Concert of 2018

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.

Click here if you are interested in hosting one of these events. 

Or to get a little taste of the evening, check out these other videos posted (by audience members) on Facebook.

 

Let it Go-‘Live’

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.

Cheers.

 

Let It Go from Capo Beach Church on Vimeo.

November 8, 2015
Chris Falson

A Piece of the Puzzle

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.
I need you.
Cheers,
Chris

 

A Simple Practice of Letting Go

Cast all your cares upon him for he cares deeply about you.

Its a great little passage of new testament scripture but used more often than not as a cliche or throw away line from a ‘sincere’ care giver.

But this casting or letting go of ‘our cares and woes’ is a method that counselors and therapists  have used for centuries in the treatment of emotional and mental afflictions.

In essence, Jesus is offering to be our counselor… our therapist. An offer you should seriously consider… his rates are quite reasonable.

Here is a little prayer practice of mine that I use in my own quiet times and in larger group training sessions on identity and creativity.

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