Forward! Finding Our Way in the Dark

Recently at dinner with two old friends/colleagues, we plumbed the depths (and heights) of our reactions and feelings about recent events in the political landscape. The following reflections are inspired by this rich conversation with my longtime social change companions, Mark and Teresa.

jan_mark_d_teresa_feb_2017

Mark, Teresa and me


A World in Trouble

Our current political turmoil is turning up the heat and sparking the kinds of conversations we have not been having. People are scared. We are feeling pressure to keep our country, even our world together. Continue reading

Speaking Our Truths About the Climate Crisis

Dramatic Sunset

Recently I joined in a “Wisdom Circle for a World on Fire” convened by Shams Kairys and Cindy Spring—a space to join others in exploring our deepest thoughts and feelings about climate change.

Here is a summary of our purpose, from Shams’ email that brought the group together:

“Those who are willing to peel back the forces of denial and look at our actual condition, who are often left feeling isolated and distraught, need to be talking with each other. In a dedicated space with a small group, we will peer into our hearts and minds and engage in honest conversation. This milieu is conducive not only for informing each other, but also for hearing our own trials and emerging recognitions in a fresh light. The focus is not so much on the facts of the matter or actions to address it as on expanding our capacity to face and integrate what we are learning, and its impact upon us.”

Continue reading

The Legacy of Grace Lee Boggs: “Re-imagine Everything”

1_GLB_ONE

Onstage banners at the West Coast memorial for Grace Lee Boggs

On March 20, 2016 a celebration of Grace Lee Boggs’ 100-year life was held at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. The memorial speakers offered stories and lessons learned from Grace, who was active in social change work for three quarters of a century. Here is a sampling of what was shared, followed by my full journal notes.


1.    We remake ourselves to remake the world.

2.    What do I need to change in myself to be more effective in changing the world?

3.    What does it mean to “grow our souls”?

4.    Praxis is about changing our minds and our perspectives in response to changing conditions.

5.    Questions are more important than answers.

6.    Go beyond simply complaining and waiting for others to change it or fix it.

Continue reading

Crooner Tunes and Musicals: Connecting Across the Memory Gap

The classic songs from “back in the day” bring a touch of familiarity and provide a fun way to interact when memory is on the wane but musicality remains strong.


I have just returned from a delicious dinner with Helen, my 94-year-old friend and music buddy. We both love to sing and are prone to break into song at any time.

This evening Helen is especially lively. At dusk on a cloudless day with spring blooms bursting forth everywhere, just having enjoyed an excursion at our favorite Japanese restaurant, she spontaneously breaks into a song that is new to me:

What a day this has been
What a rare mood I’m in
Why, it’s almost like being in love

There’s a smile on my face
For the whole human race
Why, it’s almost like being in love

Such a sublime articulation of Helen’s joy state! We consult the all-knowing Internet and have a great time watching Gene Kelly singing and dancing to “Almost Like Being In Love” in the movie Brigadoon.

For Helen and many of her contemporaries, it’s all about the Crooner era and hit songs from the big musicals. Being able to search for songs online brings fun improvisational moments of social and musical engagement.

Continue reading

Grace Lee Boggs, Social Change Evolutionary

 

by Ryan Garza, Feb. 2014

Grace Lee Boggs, photo by Ryan Garza  (Feb. 2014)

Social change activist, philosopher and visionary Grace Lee Boggs died on Oct. 5, 2015 at age 100. Such a life of meaning she lived! If you didn’t know of Grace, I would like to introduce you to her.

Grace endeavored to better the world in every possible way, right up to her last days. Working for social change wasn’t something that she could ever retire from. It’s who she was, for over 70 years.

Browse the quotes and links below to learn more about Grace’s fascinating life and her unique vantage point on the human condition. For lots more, visit the Boggs Center website.


“The world is waiting for a new dream… We are shaking the world with a new dream. Feel it! Guard it! Treasure it! These opportunities do not come often.”

“These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent on commodifying all our human relationships, we have the power within us to create the world anew.”

Continue reading

Singing, Ministry and Me

JT_Video_Screenshot_ONE

Announcing a New Video “Music, Ministry and Spirit”

Recently I led a Sacred Song Circle at The Chaplaincy Institute. One thing led to another, and a video was born: Music, Ministry, and Spirit. Click on the image above to watch.

Singing and Ministry Go Well Together

At my ordination to interfaith ministry I made an out-loud commitment to be a “singing Reverend”, although I didn’t know what that meant at the time. Since then I’ve sung at weddings, memorials, a birth blessing, community singing gatherings, and bedsides.

For me, singing ministry is not so much a role as it is a ministerial capacity—a bandwidth that jumps into play in certain moments when it is exactly what is needed.

Continue reading

“Journey-Work of the Stars”: Story of the Universe in 8 Minutes!

A_Brief_History_of_Everything

By Henry Reich, in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s video, ‘The Genesis of the Universe’

Check out what must be the most ambitious digital graphic movie ever! Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tells the story of the universe’s evolution in a mere 8 minutes.

Tyson’s accessible narration comes to life alongside Henry Reich’s hand-drawn, time-compressed illustrations. On some level the information is utterly incomprehensible in scope and scale. Yet this short video makes it slightly more possible to imagine how the universe emerged and took shape over 13.7 billion years.

Continue reading