Monday, May 23, 2011

Taize Evening Prayers at Westminster Abby in Mission

Taize Evening Prayers at Westminster Abby 
Saturday, May 28th, 2011  8pm

This coming Saturday is a very special evening of the year for me.
It is the evening of Taize Evening Prayers at the Westminster Abby in Mission BC
The songs/prayers from Taize have made a huge impact on 
my life and I've been passionate about sharing these songs with others
for the past 13 years or so.
I think in a time where many people are sick of religion,
sick of dogma, and empty tradition,
the songs of Taize offer a special gift.
What I have found with these very simple songs
is a way to pray.
I talk to many, many people about spiritual things. 
Many people have given up on a church experience, but still hold a heart that is open to prayer.
But how to pray?
How do we navigate this unknown?
Brother Roger, who founded the Taize community, believed that simplicity of heart and simple trust where key elements in having a heart of prayer.
He also believed that a lifestyle of listening
was much more significant
than a list of beliefs.
He taught me that there is joy in the journey of trust
rather than the anxiety that comes from a life of fear.
This evening at the Abby is a simple hour of silence, songs, prayers and rest.
It is a time where we can gather together and just simply be and open ourselves to the mystery of what is beyond us all.

Free and Open to public

Friday, May 20, 2011

more thoughts on joy.....
photo by

this past Wednesday night I met Brother Emile from Taize, France.  Brother Emile has been a monk with the Taize community for more than 20 years, I believe.  He came to Canada this week to visit various cities and share about the theme of joy.  I found this very interesting as I have been contemplating this subject myself so much lately.
Brother Emile asked us two questions:
1.  Have you experienced something that is a companion to joy?  Does joy come alone or is there something else that comes with it?  (i'm not sure if I got this entirely worded the way he had it - but I believe this was the essence of his question.
2.  Is it possible to opt for joy?

We gathered in small groups to discuss our thoughts around joy.
When I thought of what accompanied joy in my own experience, it was the feeling of 'child-likeness'.  When I am truly joy-filled, there is a carefree element, a deep laughter, an abandonment of expression that I can only describe as being child-like.  This is very beautiful to me and it speaks of not being forced or manipulated.  Joy in this sense relates to inner freedom to be.
To opt for joy?  This is an interesting question and one to joy a choice?
We all tire of people that are positive to an extreme that they are not facing reality.  This is not attractive and I don't believe holds the true meaning of joy.

Perhaps it was said best today in my studio.  A woman came to buy the Love shines CD.  She was drawn to the song, Winter is Over.  She told me that as she gets older, the season of spring becomes more and more meaningful for her.  She is aware of Winter - and how it is a great symbol in our lives for seasons of being barren, experiencing loss and death.  She told me that she has become aware that as she fully embraces Winter in her life, the JOY of Spring has become that much more intense and real for her.  This was so beautiful to hear from this beautiful woman.  She summed up all that I would want to say here by that one thought.....
Because of her acceptance of the darkness - she is able to fully enter into the celebration of the light....and the joy was all over her face.
To opt for joy - perhaps involves embracing our suffering, weeping with those who weep, singing with those who sing and dancing with those who dance.  In entering life fully in all that it offers, we will taste joy.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

remember sister.....

This weekend I am privileged to share music in a few places.  The first is at the PASCH conference in Abbotsford  Their theme is 'loving, reflecting and pursuing justice together'.  The conference is about exploring social justice especially in the home - in our most intimate relationships.  Powerful stuff.  I am honoured to sing songs amidst story telling and poetry and a call to justice.
The second place I'll be sharing music is with Deborah Handley and the Seranata Singers of Mission (Saturday 7:30 pm St. Andrew's United)
I'll be playing recorder with two amazing students of mine, Megan Vandenberg and Dharma Smith - accompanying the choir.  We'll also do a couple songs on our own.  Rebecca Sichon will be singing Ordinary Miracle with me as well as Winter is Over.  Boris Sichon will be accompanying on percussion.  It will be an wonderful evening.
A song I will be sharing in both places from the Love Shines recording is Every time.....
the words have been powerful for me this week, especially the line;
'remember sister, you are free'

What is freedom?
As I hear the recording - I am wondering what I have yet to learn about all I have sung about!
What is true inner freedom?
For today, it is the choice to be grateful.....even as I live with complicated uncertainties
It is the choice of expressing love to those around me
It is the choice to keep dreaming
It is the choice to be fully alive and to invite those around me also to life.

What keeps me from freedom? - what holds me back is perhaps a 'poverty mentality' that says I need this or that to be free....I will be more happy when this is in place.  Freedom says - it is here - it is now - it is within.  This is a hard truth and one that awakens me to parts of myself where greater freedom is yet to come.

but .....I am human!  I am learning and growing and I will keep singing this song and remembering....
I am free

Sunday, May 08, 2011

being mama - mother's day May 8, 2011

I have two beautiful daughters; Pera & Brianna
They have been and are two of the greatest gifts of my life
I remember coming home from the hospital with Pera after she was born and wondering if the police should stop me
what did I know about being a mother?
what kind of damage could I cause to this human being placed in my trust?
how did I become entrusted with the care of this frail human being?
It is an ultimate trust - to be given a child
A life has been placed in your hands
to give value to
to care for
to nourish
to provide for
I was terrified of making mistakes and hurting my daughters
I was terrified of failing in my role as 'mom'.
But - what a learning this adventure has been.
One of the greatest gifts they taught me was
to say
I'm sorry
I was wrong
I learned freedom in being human
I learned that it is OK to make mistakes - and I could allow them to make mistakes too
I learned to tell the truth and be more honest about my feelings
I learned to joke and have fun
I learned that a schedule is not always the most important thing
I learned that an orderly house isn't always possible when there are bedtime stories to be read
I learned that small hands like to help and not to push them away
I learned that the trust of a child is not to be taken for granted - it is a privilege
I learned that the love of a teen is not to be taken for granted - it is a gift
I learned to let go and that close-ness is not my right
I learned to celebrate two beautiful lives that are dancing their own dance
I am continuing to learn and learn and learn
Pera and Brianna - thank you for all you have taught me on this journey of motherhood.
I love you.

Mom - thank you for being my mom and for your zest for life and wild determination to stay positive no matter what.  Love you too.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Boris Sichon & me at Songs, Strings Steps - Abby Arts Centre May 2011
being a gypsy woman
this week I was able to enter the joy of being a 'gypsy' woman with the
Songs, Strings & Steps Performance (Calvin Dyck & youth orchestra)
I performed 'Secrets' with Kevin Boese,  'Ordinary Miracle' with Rebecca Sichon
and the 'Gypsy Song Medley' with Boris Sichon.
For each of these songs I was able to don a new costume...
the 'urban music chic girl' for Secrets - the 'classy piano player/singer' for Ordinary Miracle
- and the 'wild gypsy' for our Gypsy tunes.
In the weeks leading up to the show I had fun gathering my gypsy costume which included head scarf, two other scarfs, colorful skirt and loads of jewelry including jingly ankle bracelets, huge rings and necklaces.
There was something liberating about putting that costume on - it was simply FUN.
I have heard that to really know ourselves and what our deepest passions are is to follow our bliss - to follow what brings us 'joy' pay attention to those moments that are truly FUN and do more of that in our day to day lives.
Learning these folk gypsy songs with Boris has been extremely fun
when you sing a gypsy song - you cannot be contained
you cannot be shy
you cannot be intimidated - you must....
let it OUT
let it SHINE
let it SPARKLE
These songs are emotional, passionate, and full of energy
To sing them well, you've got to tap into your own emotions, passions and energies
The costume kind of goes with it - you don't wear beige if you are a gypsy.
you don't wear stud earings - you were BIG HOOPS.
You wear COLOUR.
You aren't afraid to stand out and let 'er rip
This is liberating
to express
to be
to shine

maybe there is a true gypsy in me - whatever the case I may just put on that costume a few more times :-)

Friday, May 06, 2011

trust is another word
that has taught me so much over the
past few years.
this morning it spoke to me again.
This word came into my life in a powerful way
when someone challenged me that I had an issue
with 'trust'.  
I agreed!  I did not trust!
Anxiety is a result of a lack of trust and I was full of it.
Anxiety propelled me into controlling behaviour that was unpleasant to be around and increased my unhappiness.
So, realizing I had 'trust' issues - I began a fighting dialogue - 
with God...
it went something like this - 
'I don't think I like you- and I definitely don't trust you!'
It was extremely liberating to be honest.  
all my life I was taught to be a good girl - and good girls should not speak the truth - especially about negative feelings.
To be able to express my lack of trust felt 'human' and 'freeing'.
I could almost hear God laugh at me in joy.
'So you don't trust me?  How's that working for ya?'
So, we began a dialogue that was actually quite humorous.  My job was to be honest and then to listen.  What I heard was profound and so releasing.  I heard things like - 'OK, so you don't trust Me - just let me know when you're ready.'
There was no pressure to be 'good' pressure to 'please'....just an invitation -when I'm ready to jump into trust - that there was this Presence waiting for me to work with me.
So, one day - I said - OK - I'll trust you with this situation. I'll 'let go' of my control here.
I could feel the 'smile' coming big towards me.  
My relationship with God has become this incredible adventure of dialogue - involving 3 basic steps:
being utterly humanly honest
taking risks from what I've heard

this morning - again I was tempted towards anxiety
and again the old whisper - 
'I'm here when you're ready to trust'
It brings a smile to my face when I hear this.
The adventure continues

Thursday, May 05, 2011


Over the past 14 years I have taken time  to listen for
a 'word for the year'.
These words have had a huge significance in my life.  
It started out by chance where I really was in a dilemma and needed wisdom.  I took some time for silence and the word that emerged from that time of silence was 'wait'.  It was not the word I particularly wanted to hear at the time.  But I paid attention to it, and responded to it.  When I would feel agitated or restless with my situation, I would go back to that word, and it sustained me.  I realized it was a word I would learn how to 'live into'.  It became a symbol of my spiritual path to be attentive to this word over a long period of time.  
Over the years, there have been many words to live into.  A couple of years ago, the word was JOY.
Joy was a word I heard a lot growing up - I knew we were supposed to feel joyful.
However, I knew that I could never muster up joy by sheer will power.  I also knew that I wasn't currently feeling much or any of it in my life.
To recognize this put me in a serious quest for joy.

How does one attain joy?
Where does joy come from?
Who do I know that actually is joyful? (couldn't think of hardly anyone!)
when is the last time I felt joy and how did that happen?

I started watching people around me and looking for joy.
I started becoming even more aware of the lack of joy in my own life.
It was during this time that a quote from Brother Roger became very significant to me.  Brother Roger was the founder of the Taize community in France.  He was a contemporary and friend of Mother Teresa's and I have been profoundly affected by his life and writings.  Brother Roger spoke of drawing from the 'well-springs of joy'.  It was an image that spoke to me of joy coming from a place deep within....well-springs....something that I can draw from that is beyond my own humanity
..something deeper than myself.
 It is like being a tree and allowing my roots to go so deep into the earth that they find rivers of life in the darkness that sustains them.
Going 'in and down' within ourselves is not such an easy thing to do.
It takes times of silence and of 'just being'.
But what I have found as I have allowed myself to do that - is that 
I have tasted of a deep Love.
I have tasted of something that is far deeper than myself and so beautiful.
I have had water from a very deep well and it has fed my soul.
In this well, there is joy.
Joy that is beyond the deepest sadness
Joy that is stronger than any fear
Joy that liberates the heart
Joy that exudes LIFE
I do not feel JOY all the time  - but I have tasted enough of it that I am hungry for it all the time and want to continue to learn how to draw from this well in deeper and deeper measures.
Joy has an amazing effect on our relationships and surroundings.  I have found it to be contagious once someone is carrying it.  I have found it can also disappear quickly by just a word or a glance.
Joy speaks to me of a life of HOPE
and a belief that Love exists
and that Love sustains all things
If you have thoughts about 'joy' I'd love to hear them.......

Monday, May 02, 2011

Vernon Visit
This past weekend i visited mom and dad in Vernon.
Many of you know they have gone through a lot of trauma in the past 2 months especially.
Dad almost died twice and mom has been super sick too.
They are currently in a temporary care home situation but plan to actually go home tomorrow - 
we are all holding our breath to see how that will work for them.
Yesterday I asked if they wanted to go for a drive.
They jumped at the chance to get some fresh air and the feeling of sun on their backs.
So we drove to a beautiful spot called Turtle Mountain and I took this funny picture of the
 three of us with my laptop.
Mom and Dad are having to face a future they didn't expect  
with huge health issues, loss of strength and mobility.
It is not an easy time for them, but we were able to have a good visit with 
lots of laughs and teasing thrown in.
I know they are going to try to make the best
of whatever comes their way in the next few days and weeks.
One quote from mom......when you ask her how she is feeling today (and this is her constant response)
 "Oh - better than yesterday!"
I'm glad it's always today and never yesterday!!!