Follow The Lights [on KS Friday]

Before moving to Wisconsin I had no holiday tradition. Being “not religious,” my celebrations were more spontaneous and improvisational than rooted in any specific custom or expectation. Dinners with friends. One year I baked bread with strangers. One year I took a boat to an island because there was a hot springs by the beach. One year, because I was alone and life was crumbling all around me, I scheduled for myself 30 coaching calls; that was the most memorable and profound holiday season of my life. I helped people. I met Kerri.

Since moving to Wisconsin my holiday tradition has been to help Kerri create choir performances for services. When I suggest that I helped, I mean I carried stuff, set up chairs, pushed pianos, moved bells into the choir loft, set up microphones, hauled big bowls of sand for candles. I am part Sherpa. It has been the busiest and zaniest time of the year. After playing the late night Christmas Eve service – the last of many running through the week, we come home, and with our neighbors, light luminaria up and down the street, pull two fire pits onto the driveway and stoke them for warmth. We open bottles of wine and place on a table bowls of snacks. People come and, huddled around the fire, we talk and laugh until the cold wee-hours of the morning.

This year, with the loss of jobs and collapse of community, with the pandemic spiking, our traditions are erased. For me, this feels like familiar territory. For Kerri, it is a profound loss and is disorienting. She had a full-on-old-fashioned-melt-down a few nights ago after cutting her finger on a broken wine glass. “It’s too much…” she sobbed. I couldn’t help but feel as she wept that I/We have walked a full-circle. Eight years later, life is again crumbling all around me/us. This could be the most memorable and profound holiday season of our lives. I didn’t offer my thoughts. I have learned in moments of crisis that silence is often more helpful than platitudes of encouragement. I am slow but sometimes I get there.

Leo had a Christmas tradition that I admired. He gave everyone in his circle an orange and a few walnuts. He grew up very poor and, as a child, those were the gifts he received. It was the most and best gifts that his parents could give. Throughout his long and successful life, he gave them to remind himself – and those he loved – that the holiday was not about the stuff. It was about the people who stand in the circle with you, the people who stand in the fire with you. The people who you love, who give all that they have: their hearts. An orange. A few walnuts. Big, big love.

This year, those people will stand virtually with us and we with them. The hot fire of this year has burned away the superficial. The recognizable patterns have all but disappeared. Yet, the essentials remain. The essential few remain. Deeply rooted. Deeply felt.

The cycle of life, the cycle of The Lights in Kerri’s song, reminds us of all that really matters. New life, linking back. Ancient hearts beating in our breasts. Full of light. Full of big, big love.

Kerri’s albums – including the lights – are available on iTunes

read Kerri’s blog post about THE LIGHTS

the lights ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

Mark It [on KS Friday]

millneck fall songbox copy

I am marking the coming of fall. Each day on our walk I see a bit more red, yellow and burnt orange. A week ago I pulled on a sweatshirt. There was a chill in the air that penetrated the afternoon sun.

The fall brings a sweet melancholy, an inward look. We are moving slower on our walks. We can see deeper into the woods. The deer are everywhere. The apples are down. Last night at dinner, Steve had a fire in the stove. I sat beside it and let the warmth find my bones.

It is my favorite time of year. We make soup with friends. The air sharpens. I yearn for my studio. I write really bad poetry. I remember vivid yellow quaking aspen leaves. I secretly look forward to raking the front yard.

Tradition awakens with the harvest. The fruit and leaves have had their time, now the root gets its nourishment. Reaching down. Letting go. The wind encourages the resistant to release. It’s this deep ritual of return that beckons in Kerri’s Millneck Fall.

 

MILLNECK FALL on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read kerri’s blog post about MILLNECK FALL

 

 

shadow bristol woods website copy

millneck fall/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood

Clink [on Two Artists Tuesday]

starbucks copy

Not that Starbucks should be our sponsor but Starbucks should be our sponsor. And every independent roaster across the country, too. A quick stroll through our photo roll will reveal way-too-many shots of our espresso-cup-clinking-toast-pix. When traveling, we send them to 20 to let him know that we are alive and well and attending to our priorities. Coffee rules our world. Coffee is the organizing principle of our day. If you wanted to pry deep-secret-information from us, the best and most effective torture would be to withhold coffee. We’d weep and tell all.

Our play, The Roadtrip, is taken from the 5-month daily email chain that Kerri and I wrote to each other prior to actually meeting. When we invited an audience to hear the  play in order to get feedback before attempting a performance run, one audience member exclaimed, “You talk about coffee a lot!” It’s true. In the play, as in life, we talk about coffee a lot.

For us, coffee is a ritual. For kicks, I just Googled ‘coffee rituals’ and read about the varied and rich traditions that coffee inspires all over the world. Some are new. Some are ancient.

The riches in our life are simple and accessible and never taken for granted. And, that is exactly how we like it. A good day includes a walk holding hands. DogDog and BabyCat antics. A sip or two of wine. Good bold coffee. A moment when we stop and realize how fortunate we really are. And another cup of coffee to clink and celebrate.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about COFFEE

 

coffee hydroflasks website box copy

 

[note: All product placement and logo shots are merely coincidental. Any resemblance to products, actual or imagined, is purely accidental and should not be taken for an outrageous appeal for support. Really. No, Really.]

 

What’s The Story? [on Two Artists Tuesday]

o christmas tree story post copy

 

oversizedjoy copley place website box copy