Saturday, May 11, 2013

Arts Festival: Eco-Sculpture, Mural Painting, Music, Poetry, Pottery and Wonder

Galen was non-verbal and unamused when he came into my group. He separated himself and tried to hide in a pew. All I saw was a lot of blond hair and fingertips. I went over, sat down next to him, asked his name, and told him I had a nephew with the same name. He began to lighten up, but was still dubious. I left him, went back to the circle and began with the shruti box. I almost never start a kids workshop with the shruti box, FYI. At the first sound of it, he sat bolt upright and was completely mesmerized. So taken with it was he that he asked fifty questions and spent most of the Explorer time (20 minutes) with it. I had to remind him to share, and he did, but somehow it always ended up back in his hands. At the end, he came up to me, shoved paper and pen into my hand, and said "I need you to write down the name of that and where I can get one!" little brother. He thanked me and shook my hand in the rhythm of the final rhythm exercise we'd done (be still my beating heart). On the lunch line he found me again and said "Hey, Ana! Look at this!" This pic is our brains on music.

But wait! There's more. As I was heading to the parking lot at the end of the day, wanting nothing but a cup of coffee to help me drive home without falling asleep, Galen came over and put his hand out to shake. When I took it he jumped up and down 15 times (I started counting out loud at nine) like a jumping bean. When he stopped, he said "That's a nice way to greet someone at the gym." Indeed.

Who has a better job than me? Not even God, people. Not. Even. God.

Friday, April 26, 2013 Makes Me Smile!

I know I've been neglecting you, my little blog, but I've been a busy girl. Click on the title to check out my new Tumblr page! With a little help from my friends (especially Carolina Armstrong - thank you again!), I've been able to collect almost every video, tune, interview, photo, alongside my appearance calendar, bio, contact information, cool quotes, and the occasional sterling encomia. There are tiny, adorable buttons so you can link directly to Soundcloud, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more, including email, the dinosaur-in-waiting. They call it "curating" but I don't feel much like a museum yet, in case you were wondering.

The format is an endless scrolling grid in four columns, and everything can be tagged for clickable convenience, so if you'd like to see all the quotes you can click on the "quote" tag and all the quotes will load in a nanosecond.

Look me up at - there's so much to see and share, you won't be sorry. Hell, you'll probably want a Tumblr of your own, and will no doubt make an even better one.

Do me a favor and pick one thing to "like" or share, or tweet. Maybe you can think of one person who might really like my work, or even one song? Now you can easily send it to them!

Thanks for sharing.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Epiphany Now!

Epiphany partially defined, with recipes...

1) A Christian festival where Three Kings with presents follow a star looking for a baby boy, get scared and go home by another way. Don't worry, they leave us the tradition of gifts before they go, but every year we're left trying to apply whatever meaning we can glean from this story to our actual messy, busy lives, while fixing or re-assembling the aforementioned gifts and shopping for replacement batteries.
Occasionally there are pageants to reenact the story and people get really creative, but it doesn't happen nearly enough. These puppets get my vote for prettiest Kings ever. They're over ten-feet tall and require seven people (one adult) to wrangle each one. Thanks to Emily and Suzanne for sharing.

2) An appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity. At which manifestation one of the kings was overheard saying "Melchior! May I borrow your Epiphany? Either I've got a bad feeling about the road home or the baby needs to be changed. Either way, I'm allergic to that smell." ...proving once again the humanity of baby Jeebus.

3) A term in literary criticism for a sudden realization--a flash of recognition in which someone or something is seen in a new light. Adjective: epiphanic. Like finding the batteries (How'd they get there?), or maybe like a panic attack. Hard to tell what it means, really, it's literary criticism.

4)A sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. This is often characterized by a "WTF?!" or a "Whoa! did you see that?!" or a "Can you believe this shit?!" type of reaction. Occasionally these reactions develop into responses, but we're a distractable lot, so it doesn't happen nearly enough.

9) Epiphany is also the day you wake up wondering "Who the hell knocked on the door singing carols in German last night?" and "Why are there chalk marks on the front door?" I don't know about German carolers, but the chalk thing is old. The Kings have been named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar since before we were born, possibly so some old church guy could have an excuse to bless your grandma's house correctly in Latin: Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates as "may Christ bless the house." Nowadays, we can bless each another at anytime in any language. We should probably do it more. Every day sounds good to me. Too much? Okay, how about when we think of one another?

7) A traditional time to bake and eat cake or liberate Puerto Rican children. On the day of the Eve of the Epiphany, children (if they haven't been thrown in jail or perished of ennui by now, due to the lack of Xmas presents), are asked to cut grass to feed the camels. The grass is put in a box under the bed because this is how their grandparents did it. While the children sleep, the box is filled with gifts, the grass is thrown away (not a large camel population in Puerto Rico), and on Epiphany they open the gifts (Los Reyes only come if the child has been good all year, and if the children are awake they bypass the house).

5) A time to intentionally review the same sh**, different day theory of stuckness, thus provoking epiphanies wherever you look, until Lent, by which time you realize you've forgotten and need to start over. The trouble with Lent is that it lacks the party atmosphere and some people act like you're supposed to feel bad about yourself. Epiphanies don't happen nearly often enough, so better to start now. There's cake.

May your house be blessed.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve: Her name is Christina

Christina Rossetti

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

I'd planned to write a reflection for each day of Advent this year, but it seems that life has intervened, and writing was not to be. I've been without internet service since last week, and it's provided a lovely respite from the world except as it presents itself in flesh and blood humans. I haven't missed it as much as I thought I would, except for all the drafts I've got for Advent reflections that will patiently wait for me to play with them next Advent.
Last night I sang a bunch of tunes, including Britten's Hymn to the Virgin, tomorrow morning I'll play trumpet and sing the Lauridsen O magnum Mysterium, and tonight I'll sing a ton of stuff, including this little lovely by Christina Rossetti.

It makes me smile every time, and especially so this year, with three Christinas in my life to show me love as token over and again. Christina No. 1 - priest, artist, mom, friend of many years, happily okay after winning a round with breast cancer. Christina No. 2, also artist and mom, kindly cooking dinner with Charlotte (5 and a half) for those of us who need to bring home the bacon by working this holiday; and the newest, Christina No. 3 - kind enough to welcome, feed, and house me while I was on the road a couple of weeks ago. You have all blessed me with your sweetness even in the midst of your crazy busy lives.

We don't have to look very far for sacred signs, they're all around.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Reflection XIII: Fragility and Intention

The death and destruction department in Life's Little Reality Shoppe has a way of preempting everything. Last week, two sick parents and the death of my friend Deb cast a long shadow, until Friday's mass murder in CT.

How do people endure the unendurable? I've seen it happen, but it takes a huge toll, and many years before those left standing feel able to stand, let alone thrive. How is resilience even possible with so much energy spent trying to hide our fragility? What if God is as fragile as we are, and needs us to protect it? I know. We're fucked, right?

Maybe not. I suppose if we're to be God for one another (which I advocate regularly), the time is now. I've got plenty of faith, and some to spare, but I need to remind myself daily. Poetry, prayer, music, and small conversations - these feed me. The media frenzy that feeds the information junkie in me can drain my spirit. I'm susceptible to the repetitive stories of tragedy, mayhem, and trauma, so I turn them off. Better to wonder, sing, and pray; then go feed someone else.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow, thou art with me. Repeat all day. It might be better to call another friend, though, because some days that God looks mighty frail, and we need strong bodies to lean on.

I wonder what will help society to be kinder and more gentle? I wonder what it will take to make it as easy to get mental health coverage as it is to buy a gun? And, I wonder how can I not harden my heart? I've been singing In paradisum deducant te angeli... I've been praying Denise Levertov's Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus. Here's the last half of the Agnus Dei:

God then,
encompassing all things, is
defenseless? Omnipotence
has been tossed away, reduced
to a wisp of damp wool?

And we,
frightened, bored, wanting
only to sleep till catastrophe
has raged, clashed, seethed and gone by without us,
wanting then
to awaken in quietude without remembrance of agony,

we who in shamefaced private hope
had looked to be plucked from fire and given
a bliss we deserved for having imagined it,

is it implied that we
must protect this perversely weak
animal, whose muzzle's nudgings
suppose there is milk to be found in us?
Must hold to our icy hearts
a shivering God?

So be it.
Come, rag of pungent
dim star.
Let's try
if something human still
can shield you,
of remote light.