Gratitude Mandala, Day 10: For Benjamin Mertz, musician extraordinaire, leader of Joyful Noise Gospel Choir, social arts activist, dramatic performer, inspiring teacher and great soul. Thank you for modeling radical inclusivity, welcoming and encouraging every voice without audition with no discrimination as to age, gender, race, sexual orientation OR training or talent. You bring out the light in every one you gather in song, and show that harmony and beauty can be found together as you offer it as healing balm for those most on the outside the circle of comfort: the homeless, the incarcerated. A deep bow to you for giving such passionate expression to both the grief and the joy that lives in you and for pointing us to our better selves as we face the painful truths of what is and has been, for demonstrating time and time again the power of compassion, honesty and courageous vulnerability. The world is such a better place because of you.
Learn more about this amazing man at https://www.benjaminmertz.com/workshops
Joseph Rowe's poetic English translations of Jean Yves Leloup's magnificent renditions of the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Thomas have graced my bookshelves (and classes) for the past 15 years. Joseph is also an incredible musician whose concerts of sacred music with his wife, the incandescent singer Catherine Braslavksy, have been a perpetual wonder. I feel so grateful to have become good friends with this wonderful and soulful couple who have done so much in their work to be a bridge of beauty between the wisdom traditions of different faiths .
Below is a video of both Catherine and Joseph performing Thunder Perfect Mind, their dramatic musical rendition of an ancient poem ( c. 100 BCE-100 CE) that was discovered in Nah Hammadi, Egypt which will be the focus of a Depth Psychology Salon I will be doing on Friday, February 26 at 6 pm for the Salome Institute of Jungian Studies on Jung and the Gnostics.
Dedicated to Catherine Braslavsky, whose amazing music first opened my heart and inspired my spirit at a Veriditas sponsored labyrinth pilgrimage at Chartres Cathedral in France. Below is a recording of Catherine singing Stella Splendens, a Medieval song dedicated to the Black Madonna of Montserrat, It is one of the songs that literally changed my life, as it set me on a quest to discover the stories behind the music, a journey that took me all over France and Spain on Pilgrimage trails of the Middle Ages. I am so grateful to have collaborated with Catherine on many projects now, from performances at museums, retreats and cathedrals to in -person pilgrimages in Provence: ( ps , the photo in the background of the Chartres Labyrinth is by Cindy Pavlinac)
Great Pythagorean philosopher and subject of my lecture today. Known as "Lady Philosopher" , the curriculum of her learning community consisted of the study of music, mathematics, astronomy and ethics. During a time of rising political and religious tensions , she gathered Jewish, Pagan and Christian students together in a circle of brotherly affection in the pursuit of wisdom and virtue. The beauty of her teaching continues to flower 1600 years after her tragic death.
Today's Gratitude Mandala is sent out with love to Mary and Carlo Busby, owners of Sagrada, This independent bookstore is an oasis of soulful beauty in downtown Oakland that honors all of the world's spiritual traditions and a place I have given several lectures over the years. I am always amazed at the beautiful storefronts that Mary creates which weds together an incredible sense of beauty and tenderness with the aches and anguish of our world (memorials to shootings, or to Black Lives Matter or the environment) .(Carlo is a former Catholic monk who left the monastery to marry Mary after they fell in love through music and prayer. Their mutual commitment to spirituality and social justice is inspiring. You can visit their bookstore online here. It is a marvelous resource for books, art, candles, vestments, icons and more : https://www.sagrada.com/
Dedicated to psychotherapist and author Francis Weller, who has taught me so much about rituals of both grief and gratitude. His book The Wild Edge of Sorrow should be required reading for our times, a profound exploration on the nature of grief and the way community can alchemical transform sorrow into compassion and courage. Here is his website to learn more about his life-changing work:http://www.wisdombridge.net/ and here is a link to a one hour video where he discusses the Five Gates of Grief
How grateful I am to have Katherine Witteman as both friend and colleague!
Katherine is a master teacher in the field of Intentional Creativity, a painter, a poet, a mother of two artist daughters and a leader of ritual and ceremony for pilgrimages throughout the world, from England to Egypt. Beyond that, however, she is one of the kindest, most generous human beings I have ever known. Her own life is a testament to the healing power of the arts as a way to transmute suffering in beauty and grief into compassion. She is a wonder at encouraging those who are shy, anxious and riddled with self doubt and criticism to connect to their inner child to play and find both wisdom and joy. Read more about her work at www.dancingheartart.com or join us for one of our upcoming collaborations: a Virtual Pilgrimage to Scotland (March 20-22) or the next Heroines Workshop ( April 10).