Monday, June 4, 2012
Scenes from Bella's Birthday dinner with her butterfly garden in the background. Check out the NEW VIDEO below from that dinner... it is hilarious!
(I was so tired last night from the Grief Retreat, I needed to just crash... sorry about the late post!)
How good do you feel when you experience yourself truly serving others?
This has become an ever-increasing goal of mine recently. I think the brain and soul are wired to serve. I know that recently, I have experienced both physical, emotional, and spiritual increases in energy, joy, and bliss immediately after being of service. This past week provided ample opportunity to chronicle this.
Last Monday was Memorial Day, and in my past, this really didn't mean much to me. While my dad served in Korea, my grandpa served in WWII, two of my uncles were in the Marines, and my cousin is currently a Naval Commander, I haven't lost any family or friends while serving. My dad never made a big deal about his service, and so Memorial Day just never seemed... personal... until this year.
As I alluded to in last week's post, our interim pastor made a point to make Memorial Day personal for all of us, and he was successful. By linking Christ's love for us and his willingness to lay down his life for us, I realized just how amazing a sacrifice it is by our men and women in uniform to do just the same. I realized just how many people have died protecting this country, and I realized that I owe EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM my gratitude.
On Monday, I got a tiny opportunity to give back. As I wrote to Bella last week, I played the Star Spangled Banner at a really large Memorial Day celebration out here. I got the call on Thursday that their guitarist had dropped out, and as an event planner, my heart went out to the organizers, and while I had never played the National Anthem on guitar before, I knew it so well in my ear that I knew I could figure it out in no time. I was happy to be of service to the organizers, because at the last two conferences I planned for music therapists, two music therapists, Lillieth Grand and Emily Ross, each stepped up two lead large sessions that had been scheduled where the original presenter had to back out at the last minute. They both 'saved the day' for me, so I was all to happy to pay it forward!
I believe in the teachings of Dr. King Jr., Ghandi, and Jesus Christ regarding non-violence, so to be able to honor those who have fought and died for me in a way that is authentic to who I am as a healer and musician by playing such a moving piece IN THIS CONTEXT felt so great. I felt like I could finally give back, but in my own way. Anyhow, there were over 1,000 people gathered at this event, and it was truly moving to be a part of.
On Tuesday, one of my patients was in a bad way... lot of anxiety over an upcoming procedure. I played hymns and we sang, and when I saw him again on Thursday, he was less anxious, but had a lot of pain. We sang hymns again until we reached a point of spiritual joy. He looked at me with a big grin and said, "There is no more pain." My heart felt like it was going to burst, it was so full of joy and gratitude to God for being a part of this man's moment. The healer is God, the instrument is music, and I am humbly and gratefully just the instrumentalist.
Then, on Friday, I flew back to my old home in Phoenix to work on the Grief and Loss Retreat at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley. I worked on this retreat before with my mom and another therapist, but I took some time off after Bella died to do my own grieving before coming back on board. Well, we all agreed that it felt like the time was right for me to rejoin the team, given the amount of grief work I have been doing. It was the right call. I felt great. There were two sets of parents and one mom who had lost a child, and I was able to be with them, listen to them, hold the space of grief for them, counsel them, and walk with them in a way that the other two counselors couldn't. It was such an honor. The Renewal Center was one of the locations for the Gatherings we had around the country after Bella died, and it was the site of my dad's funeral as well, so it is truly Holy Ground. Enjoy some pics of the grounds.
I also visited some venues for a reunion benefit concert my old band is having in the fall to benefit PUCK. We picked the venue and the date, and completely hit it off with the new owners of the club. We're holding it at a club we used to play at all the time, but it has since changed hands and been renovated. It looks amazing, and will be the PERFECT venue for our night.
Now, for all of you readers who don't know about my old band, it will most assuredly shock, scare, and even freak out or offend you. At that time of my life, I was in a very different place than I am now. I was still very spiritual, and loved and was inspired by Jesus, but was extremely angry and disgusted with some of the actions within the Catholic church I grew up in, and with the actions of some of the televangelists in the Christian community. I was very "anti-organized religion" during my twenties, and it wasn't until I was about 30 that I really saw the possibility of rejoining a faith community. During that time "in the wilderness," I did a lot of things that weren't too bright, but what I will stand proudly and say is that my singer and I were adamant about telling our fans that they could have a direct relationship with Jesus and God if they weren't ready to join a church. We looked and sounded scary, and purposefully pushed the envelope to attract the kids that normally run from the idea of going to church, or Christian music, or praise and worship, and you know what? We got 'em. We brought a lot of kids into the idea that it could be cool to be spiritual and believe in God and be inspired by Jesus.
I warn you, though, the exterior is not easy on the eyes or ears, but the spirit within had a plan, and at least while I was in the band (I left the band in 2002 and they remained together for about 6 more years), we delivered on it. More on all of that in my upcoming book... ;-)