Emerge [on KS Friday]

when the fog lifts songbox copy

There is a famous season of fog unique to the San Joaquin valley called The Tule Fog. It is dense and otherworldly. Early in my life, as the stage manager of a children’s theatre company, I drove into The Tule Fog almost daily.

Early each morning, in a van loaded with actors and sets and costumes, we’d leave the  highway en route to a school, dropping down into the wetlands and into the white wall of fog. The entire known world would disappear. The horizon vanished. Any sense of up or down faded. We’d creep through the Tule Fog with no actual feeling of progress; the wheels turned, the engine hummed, but there was no way of knowing whether we progressed down the road or whether our wheels were spinning on a treadmill.  Occasionally, a car would pass going the other direction. We knew it more as a disturbance in the fog, something we felt rather than saw. It was harrowing.

Time suspended. All conversation, all noise ceased. It was a true liminal space, not here or there, all orientation gone. It was as if were in the boat on the river Styx, crossing over.

And then, we’d rise. Or the sun would reach to us. And the dense white Tule Fog would release its grip on us. It let us go. And we’d emerge like time travelers coming home to a place we once knew. I’d relax my grip on the wheel and breathe a sigh of relief.

WHEN THE FOG LIFTS, is my soundtrack to those early mornings in The Tule Fog. Moving forward fueled by nothing greater than the belief that there will be another side, somewhere. And then, the rise, the reach of the sun, and flood of quiet gratitude.

 

WHEN THE FOG LIFTS on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WHEN THE FOG LIFTS

 

bong trail, wisconsin website box copy

 

when the fog lifts/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Stand It Up Again [on Two Artists Tuesday]

OY copy

On the high shelf above our sink are 3 tin letters that spell the word ‘Joy.” They’ve lived up there for a long time and have, until recently, been faithful spellers of joy. Lately, the tin “J” has lost all sense of balance. Either that or it has developed narcolepsy. Either that or it has a drinking problem. Either that or it’s developed a dreadful case of self awareness and, like a shy two year old, is hiding behind the “O.” In any case, our “Joy” now routinely defaults to “Oy.”

We’re sailing through some choppy waters so it’s tempting to assign too much meaning to our “Oy.” After finding the “J” once again laying down on the job I said, “Maybe that’s the universe talking to us.” Kerri punched me in the arm. She said over her shoulder as she left the room, “You better knock on wood.” Apparently the universe listens but does not speak. To be safe I did as she suggested and knocked on the cupboard.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. ~ The Beatles

Live by the sword, die by the sword ~ Aeschylus

Isn’t there is some truth to the notion that what you put out into the world is related to what you get back from it? Of course, then there is this little pinch of conundrum: bad things happen to good people. Also, true. In story terms, it’s called competing narratives. Many people have spent their lives attempting to reconcile or explain this beautiful opposition.

Kerri came back into the kitchen, grabbed a chair , jumped up and returned the “J” to its sober position. “Joy” once again reigned in our kitchen. Perhaps there is no connection at all between what you put out and what comes back to you. I am certain it is one of those great unknowable questions that make believers believe, professors write, preachers pronounce, and seekers seek.  I am also certain that, in the moment, the only thing that really matters is our capacity to see the “J” amidst the “Oy” and stand it back up again.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about OY!

 

laughing website box copy

Choose Your Meditation [on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

peace marbles copy

We found Peace Marbles in a basket at the door of Leap Of Faith, a small shop in Cedarburg. It’s one of our favorite shops for obvious reasons. Many faiths are represented in the shop so translate the accompanying lyrics/prayer/meditation accordingly.

The idea is ancient. What fills your mind-space, your meditation, is what you will create. Meditate on hate and that is what you will see. Focus on lack and that is what you will experience. Although it might not seem like it, what you think, what flows through your noggin on a daily basis, is a choice.  It is a placement of focus. It is a prayer. A meditation.

Peace comes when people collectively focus on peace. A community chooses where to place its focus as readily as does an individual. It’s all in the narrative, the stuff flowing through our conversation, our storytelling, on a daily basis.  It is a creative act – not something that ‘happens to us.’

It seems we could use all the help we can get. And, you never know, a fleet of little blue marbles rolling around in pockets and purses as reminders might be just the thing to help us choose to place our focus on the better things. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on BLUE MARBLES

 

 

cropped head kiss website copy

 

Chicken Marsala Monday

A Chicken Marsala thought-nugget from the melange to help you start the new week

sometimesfaith WITH EYES jpeg copy 3

Faith is one of THOSE words. So, as is my practice when wading into one of THOSE words, I look it up before writing about it. And, as is always true when writing about one of THOSE words, I find beautiful ambiguity within the proffered definitions.  1) complete trust or confidence, 2) strong belief based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

Complete trust. Spiritual apprehension.

My life has taught me that truth (another one of THOSE words) can only be found within the paradoxes. If you can reduce something to a singularity, a black or white concept, something graspable, then it may be a rule or law but is never a container of truth. THOSE words point to deep experiences, the mysteries that cannot be fully grasped or squeezed into a container. Love is one of THOSE words, too.

We designate the first week of spring by a heavenly marker known as the equinox. Equal night. We look to the sky to understand the happenings on this earth. I’m happy to report that my first sighting of tiny green shoots breaking through the crusty earth in my backyard happened this week. The first sign of spring. The resurgence of green life after months of root-resting hibernation.

I couldn’t help myself. For kicks I also looked up the definition of the word apprehension. It smacked to me of being yet another one of THOSE words. Yep. 1) anxiety or fear, 2) understanding, grasp. Anxiety. Understanding.

Standing before a blank canvas I often feel as Chicken Marsala. I tie on the blindfold and step. Sometimes I step boldly with complete trust. Sometimes I step timidly with great apprehension. It is a full spectrum of faith. And, because I can never know (another one of THOSE words) the best I can do is practice.

cool FAITH TAKE PRACTICE merchandise [wall art, gift cards, tote bags….]

society 6 info jpeg copy

faith takes practice FRAMED ART PRINT copy

faith takes practice LEGGINGS copy

‘faith takes practice’ leggings

faith chicken iphone case copy

faith takes practice SQ PILLOW copy

 

read Kerri’s thoughts on FAITH TAKES PRACTICE

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

sometimes faith takes a little practice ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Surrender And Surrender Again

I’ve grown accustomed to this sanctuary. I come here when Kerri has meetings in the church. It is quiet. As I sit here alone, I easily become quiet. The evening sun pours through the stained glass, the symbols shimmer.

When I met Kerri I told her that, if we were going to have a relationship, she needed to understand two things about me: I don’t sing and I don’t pray. I imagine that was stark news for a woman who works as a minister of music. I imagine she rolled her eyes. It is a running joke with the folks that know the story of my proclamation that I now sing in the church choir and band. I love to sing. As for the praying, well…, I’ve always been a meditator and that counts. Quiet is a delicious form of prayer. I was hung up on definitions. I talk to the universe all the time. To-mAaa-to, to-Mah-to.

I have, all my life, believed religion most often gets in the way of a true spiritual experience (life). “Prayer” was for me, at the time I met Kerri, a word of religion while “meditation” was a word I associated with a spiritual life. One night, not long after my move, Kerri and I had dinner with Heidi. She asked me about my faith and laughed at my reflections, saying, “You are one of those many-paths-one-mountain guys.” Yes. And, to truly be a many-paths-one-mountain guy, I’ve had to challenge some of my long held defenses, walk into some of my long held prejudices.

Yesterday, Bill said a simple, beautiful thing about faith, grace and spiritual journeys. It reinforced something I have known (for myself) for years. He said, “The problem with religion is it is heavily invested in having answers. It becomes invested in being right (righteousness), being “the way” as if there was only one way. A true spiritual life,” he said, “is about walking into the questions.” Life, the real crackling, shimmering life, is always experienced in the questions. Awe is rarely experienced in something so constructed and contained as an answer.

I brought to the sanctuary an outline/book of a class that I intended to teach years ago but never got around to offering. In the introduction a previous-version-of-me wrote this: The premise is simple and ancient: when you change your story you change your world. All stories of transformation begin with an attempt to control the uncontrollable: transformation in a story happens when the main character surrenders their illusion of control, strips their armor, walks into their fear, and meets their dragon. There are many variations on this theme. What is important to grasp is that empowerment follows surrender….

Were I writing that today I would never use the word “empowerment.It is an overused and abstract word like “presence” and generally misunderstood as something to achieve (or sold as an answer). Power is irrelevant after a dragon is met.

When I met Kerri I was terrified to sing. I’d been shamed more than once for opening my mouth, thus my proclamation. I learned, as I sang the fear from myself, that the only thing that follows surrender is more surrender.

And, in surrender, there is shimmering quiet.

Chase The Butterflies

a detail from my painting, John's Secret

a detail from my painting, John’s Secret

Wisdom butterflies that have recently fluttered across my path:

Soaking up the morning sun and drinking coffee from the deck of Common Grounds, 20 said, “You’ve heard this one, right? There are three sides to every story.”

Standing on the side of the road peering into Judy’s car, she gave us some sage relationship advice. She said, “That’s the secret to life, you know: listen before you talk.”

Kerri was composing a song. I asked her how she starts, how she knows where to start. She said, “I don’t know. Sometimes you just need to put your fingers on the keys and follow the music.”

There is an aging pink post-it note stuck (permanently) to the desk. It reads, “Make The Adventure.”

On a recent phone call, Skip offered wise counsel about how I see my role in a new business, “Find your own metaphor,” he said. ”What is the metaphor that will keep you energized, that taps into your 10,000 hours?”

Sitting behind his drum set, waiting for rehearsal to begin, John said, “Our job is to make the art, not to determine its reception.” And then he said, “What do you think?” and laughed.

Josh took a belly punch from the universe yesterday. He said, “I want to be angry but anger does me no good. I have better things to do with my life than get angry.”

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

P-Tom weighed in with this: “Faith is scandalous,” he said, “It pushes back against everything we experience.”

Dog-Dog raced across the yard in hot pursuit of a butterfly. I’m wagering that he knew he would never catch it, but the chase was glorious.

JFGI!

I had to use this painting for this post. I call it Eve

I had to use this painting from the archive  for this post. I call it Eve

Notes at the crossroads of The New World Order:

1. Betsi was disappointed in the low attendance at church. She told us that everything had changed in the last decade. Churches that were once thriving were now struggling. It is a trend. It is happening everywhere. It’s true. A few months ago I saw the statistics of church membership in America and the numbers are plummeting.

“What changed,” I asked.

Without hesitation she said, “People don’t need God anymore. They think they know everything.”

I quipped, “Who needs God when you have Google?”

She laughed and said, “Right! JFGI!”

“What does that mean?”

She smiled, “Just f*cking Google it.”

It is probably true for believers and non-believers alike that God is slower than Google, especially if the notion of God is uncannily human, (i.e., a rule-maker, judgmental, angry one minute and loving the next, assigns ‘chosen’ status to one team but not the other, etc.). Such a god might easily be confused with a search engine or a legal system.

I thought, but did not say, perhaps people are looking for something that neither technology nor a search-engine-god can deliver. Perhaps they are looking for something less volatile. Information is readily available. So is judgment. Wisdom is a bit harder to come by.

2. After band rehearsal we went to a bar. Jim grew up Catholic and we were talking about the revolution of thought that Pope Francis is inspiring. Jim said, “I really like that guy!” Suddenly, he pulled out his phone. “I wonder if The Pope is on Facebook?” We laughed when he found and “liked” The Pope. Facebook showed us a gallery of others who’d “liked” The Pope. The top of the list was The Dali Llama. “I’m going to like him, too!” Jim cheered and added, “I wonder if he’ll like me back?” We laughed.

I remember when a photograph was absolute proof that something happened. I remember the day that a photographer showed me a new “software” (at the time I had to ask what that meant) that could alter a photograph. He showed me and erased someone from a shot. I remember wondering what would be the new standard of proof? Sitting at the bar the other night with Jim, nearly 30 years later, I finally received my answer: it doesn’t exist if it isn’t on Facebook.

This brought me to what will be my next late night bar conversation topic with Jim: When did all of life become marketing and data collection? Have you checked your “likes” lately?

This inspired a glance at the fast moving river that is Facebook. I read:

Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.

That raises an obvious question: Is hell an experience or a place? JFGI!