I call my dear friend Robin O'Brien the "bard of my heart". We have collaborated on maybe a hundred events together, ranging from dozens upon dozens of Taize services from the American Cathedral in Paris to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, fifteen years of Advent Benedictine retreats at Bshop's Ranch and workshops ranging from Hildegard of Bingen to Mary Oliver. I love giving her an "assignment" . I tell her a story about the lecture I am going to give, and she writes a song in response. Here is one of my favorites, inspired by Catherine of Siena: The More I Love.
Gratitude Mandala : Janet McKenzie
Gratitude Mandala Day 14: For painter Janet McKenzie, whose powerful work fuses art, spirituality, contemplation and issues of racial justice. I’ve seen profound shifts of consciousness in workshops as people encounter her images that invite us to see Biblical stories figures in contemporary faces . Here are two of her images: Mary Magdalene with Jesus the Christ and Invitation to Love. See more of her thought provoking work at www.janetmckenzie.com.
Mandala Day 13. for my friend, iconographer Sue Ellen Parkinson. I am feeling so grateful for the ways that Mary Magdalene has brought us together and inspired her work. Here are a few of my favorite images: The Healing Circle and Mary Magdalene Blesses Womankind which portray Mary Magdalene as a wise elder. And The Arrival, which commemorates Magdalene’s meeting with Saint Sarah in Provence. Sue Ellen will be a part of Mythica's faculty for From Grief to the Garden: Walking with Mary Magdalene Through Holy Week. (lear more here: https://www.kayleenasbo.com/from-grief-to-garden-holy...). See Sue Ellen's amazing collection of sacred art here:
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)
Day 7: Hypatia of Alexandria
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.
Day 6: Mary and Carlo Busby
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/