Reconnecting with Spiritual Practice

Hermit's Cell on Iona

Hermit’s Cell on Iona

One sign of rebirthing, not only within the Christian household but also in the lives of many in the Western world today who do not identify with any particular religious tradition, is a reconnecting with spiritual practice. In the last two decades there has been an enormous burst of interest in yoga and other practices from the East, based on ancient teachings and disciplines that combine physical rigor with spiritual awareness. Likewise, we have seen a resurgence of labyrinth building in our church and public parks, and a reclaiming of other simple contemplative tools that speak of the desire to recover practices from the past to promote the rebirthing of spiritual well-being today.

One of the stations of the Iona pilgrimage is the Hermit’s Cell. It sits at the heart of the island. No more than a circular ruin of stones, it is the remains of an ancient Celtic beehive hut. Legend has it that Columba and his brothers would retreat there in turn for periods of solitude and prayer as a balance to their life together in community. The Hermit’s Cell stands as a sign of the relationship between contemplation and action, silence and expression, solitude and relationship.

On pilgrimage to the Hermit’s Cell I was once asked how many monks used to live here – a question that reveals the disorientation among many moderns in approaching the ancient practices of solitude and stillness. An interesting feature of the Iona Hermit’s Cell is its location. It is hidden amid hills in the interior of the island, so people often get lost trying to find it. They become disoriented. Similarly, so much of our culture, including our religious inheritance, has felt lost when it comes to spiritual practice. But we are in the midst of a reawakening.

One of the things that we remember on pilgrimage as we approach the Hermit’s Cell in silence together is that reclaiming the relationship between stillness and action, or between solitude and relationship, is part of the desire to come back into relationship with the wisdom of nature’s rhythms. The earth knows its patterns of night followed by day, of winter barrenness succeeded by spring energy and summer fruiting, of long periods of infolding and dormancy followed by seasons of unfolding and the expression of seed-force. We know that if we do not give ourselves over to the darkness and dreaming of nighttime, entering its intimate invitation to sleep and rest, we will be only half-awake to the demands and creativity of the day. Yet at other levels we forget the natural patterns that we are part of. Or we pretend that we can be deeply engaged and productive while pushing ourselves and others in ways that are antithetical to the essential rhythms of earth’s cycles and seasons.

Newell, John Philip. The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New BeginningsVermont: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2014. | Photo by Karin Baard

Harmony

Photo by Luca Campioni on Unsplash

Photo by Luca Campioni on Unsplash

The Spirit is doing a new thing.  It is springing forth now in our consciousness, among every people, in every discipline, in every walk of life.  Do we see it?  And shall we serve it?  A new Pentecost is stirring in the human soul.  Will we open to this moment of grace and be led into relationships of oneness we could never before have imagined?[1]

This is how the 2011 A New Harmony concludes, noticing a new consciousness and asking in succession “Do we…” “shall we…” and “Will we…”  Seven years later, it would be tempting to offer a negative response.  It does not seem as though we see it, nor that we shall serve it, nor even that we will be open to it.  But, this would be a premature conclusion.

Harmony is a fitting concept, notes coming together, distinct yet working in concert to make a beautiful sound, one that can onlybe made by a coming together.  When we look at what is happening along the southern U.S. border, and the reverberations across this land and around the world, we might better describe it as dissonance.  The cries of the children torn from parents under the illusion of showers, these children left lying under foil blankets reportedly drugged.  Dissonant.  The cries for justice from those of us seeing these pictures, clutching our own children more tightly and blanketed by our own sense of helplessness. Dissonant.  The different tunes not sung but shouted at one another by those on distant ends of the political scale.  Dissonant. Will these notes come together again to sing some semblance of a song?  In moments of such angst, Newell often refers us to the Dalai Lama who maintains with his joyful disposition that the future is not yet decided.  What part shall we play in that decision, in a tuning process?

There is reason to believe we are closer to harmony than we may think.  If you have ever tuned a guitar to itself, you will know the familiar sound of playing two notes in succession, audible waves emanating at intervals that indicate the distance between the two notes. The closer the notes get to being in tune, the faster the waves pulse and the more unsettled the sound is.  Then, with little warning, the waves align, and the notes come together as one.  It is uncomfortably dissonant just before the notes release into one another.

Just as Newell reminds us that fundamentalism, the tight grasping onto the old, the desperate yet futile grabbing onto what is slipping away, is one response to change, we can choose to respond differently.  We can honor the passing away and make room for something else to come into being, and we can dare to think that new thing could be something more beautiful.  Are these death pains we are experiencing or birth pangs?  Perhaps, they are both.  Bandages often lay at the scene of each, accompanied by sweat, sometimes blood, and always tears.  Always tears. We can bury our tears and drown out the sounds of the struggle that accompanies each of these realities, or we can be fully present to them and allow them to touch us.  If we are there for the death, we will be on hand for the birth.

Newell concludes The Rebirthing of God, written closer to our time, by naming this historical moment as uncertain.  He points us to our dreams as source for new beginnings.[2]  Yolanda King, the granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., the great Civil Rights activist, the great lover of Jesus, was asked to speak at a rally that arose in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  At only 9 years old, it was Yolanda’s presence that was as remarkable as her words, a living link to one who helped us dream a different way of being into reality.  At an accompanying interview her words spoke of another dream, one connected to this old dreamer.

The interviewer asked the young King, “You never knew your grandfather, but knowing that everything you have heard, what do you think that he would think about you and this movement?”

King responded, “He would probably be amazed that all of these people are getting together.”  Her answer seemed simple enough…and then she continued, “And a few days ago, I had a dream about him.”

“You did not!” gasped the interviewer in surprise.  New realities breaking in are hard to accept, but the interviewer recovered, “Tell me about that dream.”

Yolanda described seeing her grandfather in a museum, and he’d come back to life.  It was fuzzy—that’s how dream reality is—but she could see all these reporters and cameras gathered around him trying to interview him, and while she could not recall precisely what he said, she took from the dream sequence that her grandfather was with her in these times.[3]  Think about that image, people leaning in to hear King’s voice again, the prophetic voice from beyond us and yet somehow clearly deep within us.

Something is happening.  We are told that when some heard the voice of Jesus, they thought he was John the Baptist from beyond the grave, others Elijah, and still others other prophets.  The prophets are speaking again.  Do we hear it?

We have often considered our religious traditions for what they have to say, but perhaps the gift they have to offer us all now is how to listen.  Can we listen for the heartbeat of God that is pulsing through creation, affirming the sacredness of all things, reminding us to reach not for our fundamentals but for our fundamental oneness?  Out of this rhythm, let us then speak, let us put our bodies where bodies are being torn apart, and let us be living instruments of this tuning.  Let us hear it.  Let us serve it.  Let us be open to it.

Rob McClellan
Heartbeat Board

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Last year, Heartbeat created our Refugee Fund in memory of John Philip Newell’s father who had an incredible passion for helping refugees the world over. While our Refugee Fund is only one of our initiatives at Heartbeat, it typifies why we exist as a foundation: to foster and support compassionate action. Last year, Heartbeat granted a $5,000 grant to Annunciation House in El Paso to support their work with refugees. Annunciation House not only meets the immediate needs of individuals and families (many being released from detention), but also advocates for a humane response to the plight of migrants and fights against the rampant misinformation that is influencing recent policy decisions in the U.S.  Heartbeat is committed to continuing to support the work of Annunciation House and other similar organizations working to care for migrants and refugees. You can contribute to this work but giving to Heartbeat’s Refugee Fund, by clicking here.

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[1]John Philip Newell, A New Harmony:  The Spirit, the Earth, and the Human Soul(San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass, 2011), 175.

[2]John Philip Newell, The Rebirthing of God:  Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings(Woodstock:  SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2014), 124.

[3]http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1803/24/cnr.05.html

My Faith Compels Me To Act

Frannie Kieschnick with other women of faith in Hildago, TX Photo Credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidfchoy

Frannie Kieschnick with other women of faith in Hildago, TX
Photo Credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidfchoy

In an email to us before she left for Texas with a delegation of twelve other women of faith to bear witness to the experiences and protest the treatment of migrant and refugee families on the border, our dear friend and board member Frannie Kieschnick so simply and powerfully wrote, “my faith compels me to act.”

She also referenced a sermon by Susan Russell at All Saints Pasadena who quoted Salam Al-Marayati, the president and co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and who has been recognized for his commitment to improving the public understanding of Islam and policies impacting American Muslims: “I have seen the face of extremism in many parts of the world; extremism which is the violation of one simple principle and commandment of all our religions: Defend human dignity. And when you tear families apart, you violate the very essence of who God calls us to be.”

The face of extremism can be found right now at our country’s border, in our homeland, as people seeking and begging for dignity are violated. John Philip Newell wrote in his book A New Harmony“think of the hubris of our lives. Think of our individual arrogance, the way we pursue our own well-being at the neglect and even expense of other individuals and other families. Think of the hubris of our nationhood, pretending that we could look after the safety of our homeland by ignoring and even violating the sovereignty of other lands…the way of hubris pretends that we can be well by oppressing, by exploiting another people in order to serve our own people…it pretends that we can be well by depriving, by denying to others and to other species what we ourselves most cherish.”

We cannot love God and hate or hurt others. For truly there is no other – we are all one. The Oneness, the Sacred, is at the heart of all people, and it is a falseness to believe that we can love ourselves and demean others.

Please follow the delegation’s journey at @Revfhk1 and @FaithPublicLife on Twitter and Facebook. We, at Heartbeat, will be following and sharing their updates from the border. In the next few days, we will also be sharing ways that you can support the work being done at the border to help our neighbors.

To Frannie and the other women of faith in Texas, and to you reading, we pray, “In body, mind, and spirit may you be well this day, and may you be strong for the work of healing in the world.”

Amen.

Heartbeat board member Frannie Kieschnick  Photo credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidfchoy

Heartbeat board member Frannie Kieschnick
Photo credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidfchoy

HEARTBEAT Annual Report: 2017

Birds over Iona's shores

Birds over Iona’s shores

A Word from the Founder

February 22, 2018

In last year’s annual report I spoke of the HEARTBEAT Refugee Fund that we had created in memory of my father and his passion for helping refugees the world over. Interestingly last night my 22 year-old son, Cameron, spoke to me from a refugee camp in Thessaloniki. He was wrapped up tight in blankets and many layers of clothing in the wake of the cold front that is moving across Europe, as are so many of the refugee families he is working with.

During our brief FaceTime conversation, two connections were striking me. The first was that Cameron is continuing the work of his grandfather, even though it is in the simple way of teaching English and making music with refugees for a month in Greece. The second was that Cameron’s work is primarily among the Muslim community from Syria, and that early in his life he had been given the opportunity to pray with Muslims.  I believe that both of these connections are significant.

When he was only a boy, nine years old, Cameron sat next to me on the floor of a yurt in New Mexico. The local Sufi Muslim community was using it as their place of prayer. Men and boys knelt shoulder to shoulder on one side of the yurt and women on the other. To my left was the leader of the community and to my right was Cameron. I felt the Muslim leader ecstatically bending his whole body to the ground in prayer and then back up as we chanted the names of God. To begin with I felt young Cameron’s body not at all sure what to do. After all, Presbyterians don’t rock in prayer! But after a while I could feel him letting go to the movement and by the end of prayer he was in full motion, freely experiencing the ecstasy of Sufi worship. I believe that that moment still lives in him, and always will, and that that experience is part of what took him to a largely Muslim refugee camp.

HEARTBEAT’s Refugee Fund is only one of our initiatives but it typifies why we exist as a foundation. Whether it is study and spiritual practice at our School of Celtic Consciousness or walking alongside women and men of other faiths on our Camino Peace Pilgrimage, or supporting Annunciation House in El Paso in their work to care for refugee families seeking sanctuary in the US, the goal of every Heartbeat program and initiative is compassionate action. I know that I will never be the same for having knelt in prayer with Muslims or having walked in pilgrimage on the holy island of Iona.  These experiences of the sacredness of the earth or the beauty of the faith of another shape us. And every time I get to host a Celtic School or an Iona Pilgrimage or an Interfaith Encounter I witness others being changed, forever.

I urge you to continue to support our work. It translates into action. And compassionate action is what we need, urgently. It changes the world, one relationship at a time.

With my gratitude to you and blessings,

John Philip
Founder, HEARTBEAT

HEARTBEAT’s Path Forward

I am aware that we are sending HEARTBEAT’s Annual Report later than usual and I want to thank you for your patience. It’s been a difficult season for me – I lost my older brother after his three-year struggle with brain cancer on January 21st and then my dad passed after decades of heart disease on May 1st. I spent a lot of time in the last few months back and forth between my home in Portland, OR and Reno, NV and St. Paul, MN caring for and spending time with both of them. I have felt a lot of love and support from our HEARTBEAT community and am getting back into the flow of my work. Now, I think you will be pleased to learn more about what we accomplished in 2017.

Last year we awarded 51 scholarships. That’s twice as many as the year before, sending recipients on pilgrimage and learning experiences from California USA to the Isle of Iona in Scotland. The recipients are folks who would not otherwise have the financial means to participate, many of whom are activists, clergy, and helping professionals who dedicate their life’s work to making the world a better place.

HEARTBEAT also began more intentional publicity efforts to ensure that as many people as possible attend John Philip Newell’s events and lectures, as well as get a first look at his publications. In our first year of tracking we counted 2,533 people who attended different events, many for the first time.

This is what gets us excited about our work. We know that the Celtic Vision of John Philip and Ali holds a message that people are thirsty for. Many of us have experienced the transformative blessings ourselves. And we are determined to reach more people with a greater impact on the world around us.

As you read through our Annual Report, I hope you will get a clear picture of what we have done and what we plan to do together as we find our own unique role in the healing of the world. Thank you for participating in this essential community and joining the movement. We look forward to another year of working together to advance the Celtic Vision.

Sincerely,

Ben Lindwall
Executive Director, HEARTBEAT
ben@heartbeatjourney.org

Advancing the Celtic Vision

School of Celtic Consciousness 

John Philip has been diligently overseeing the development and expansion of the School of Celtic Consciousness (SCC). In 2017 he launched two new locations – Richmond, Virginia at the Roslyn Retreat Center and Madison, Connecticut at the Mercy by the Sea Retreat and Conference Center. He also continued the ongoing direction of the SCC in Colorado and California. John Philip is continuing to refine the curriculum as each location progresses through the program. Later in 2018 a second offering of the SCC will be held at the Richmond Hill Retreat Center in order to accommodate the extraordinary demand in Richmond, Virginia. And John Philip will be launching the first offering of the SCC in Canada at the Five Oaks Retreat Center in Paris, Ontario. Further expansion of the School is planned for new locations in Colorado in 2019 and California in 2020.

Charles LaFond has also been actively involved with the development of the SCC since joining the HEARTBEAT Board of Directors last year. Together he and John Philip are laying the groundwork to bring on additional instructors and expand to more locations in new regions. John Philip is in the midst of a writing project and the finished product will serve as a textbook for new instructors and participants. We are thrilled at such a vibrant season of development for the SCC!

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2017 Colorado School of Celtic Consciousness Participants

Promotion and Marketing

We believe that there are countless people who are hungry to hear John Philip Newell’s message for the first time. Publicity is therefore a core component of our outreach. Heartbeat leverages Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email Marketing, and a state of the art website to promote John Philip’s writings, speaking engagements, pilgrimages, and SCC opportunities.

Once again our website was the foundation of our online outreach in 2017, garnering thousands of pageviews and users. After another year of growth, our email database now boasts 7,392 active contacts as we continue to build an effective platform for sharing news, event listings, and updates from HEARTBEAT.

In order to measure our marketing success, HEARTBEAT started tracking attendance at John Philip’s events last year. We identified attendance capacity at each event, estimated the number of people who might attend, and then tracked how many people actually show up. Our goal is to assist in the individual event promotion and marketing and fill each event to capacity. We are happy to report that 2,533 people attended an event with John Philip in 2017! It’s our expectation that this number grow by at least 20%, depending on the number of events offered each year.

Fostering Engagement

Scholarship Awards 

HEARTBEAT’s Scholarship Awards Program continues to grow and enabled recipients to attend events at the School of Celtic Consciousness across the United States, Iona Pilgrimage in Scotland, retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, as well as HEARTBEAT themed programs on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and Pacific Coastal Trail in Oregon.

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In 2017 we doubled the number of scholarships awarded by supporting 51 recipients and increased our annual scholarship awards by 48% for a total of $34,305.

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Walking Pilgrimage

Ben Lindwall continued to lead our walking pilgrimage program, which replicates the model formulated by John Philip and Ali Newell. Ben co-led the fourth annual Interfaith Camino Peace Pilgrimage along with Adam Hussain, leading a group 16 people diverse in religious tradition, race, and nationality across the northern coast of Spain. This walk traverses a 100-mile mid-section of the Camino del Norte, from Santander to Ribadesella. Along the way practices are facilitated that cultivate awareness, understanding, and relationship amongst the differences represented in the group. Each pilgrim takes a turn sharing their story, about their religious background, and spiritual practice. The combination of sharing meals, praying together, navigating the inevitable struggles that arise, and experiencing the beautiful Cantabrian countryside creates space for transformation on many levels. One of the pilgrims shared the following reflection:

My heart is full from my time on pilgrimage, my life is full of new friends and resources, and my leadership is forever touched by this experience. I know that we all have returned to our corners of society more healed, transformed, or simply more connected to the infinite Source and able to walk with hope towards peace.”

In September of 2017, Ben co-led the second annual Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage walk along with Stephanie Escher in his home state of Oregon. The intention of this group was to reconnect with the Earth and discern how each of us might participate in the world’s healing. They walked 36 miles over the course of five days along the northern coast – across beaches, through coastal rainforest, and below towering bluffs. Similar to the Camino program, sharing story and spiritual practice help each pilgrim embody the experience.

The walking pilgrimage prototype continues to attract young participants from a myriad of backgrounds and provides an exceptional setting for dialogue, spiritual practice, and transformation. To learn more and apply for the upcoming Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage click here.

2017 Camino Peace Pilgrimage Participants

2017 Camino Peace Pilgrimage Participants

Pilgrimage Leadership Training Report

Michel Gribble and CJ Dates were the first leaders to emerge from HEARTBEAT’s newly founded Pilgrimage Leadership Training Program. The goal is to train more leaders in our unique program model in order to offer additional pilgrimage events We want to leverage this spiritual practice to provoke transformation, grow in awareness and improve understanding. As apprentice-leaders, Michel and CJ accompanied Ben Lindwall on the 2017 Interfaith Camino Peace Pilgrimage. They assisted in the planning, preparation and took turns facilitating portions of the program. This modality provided the ideal setting to teach HEARTBEAT’s philosophy of leadership, coach during critical decisions, and reflect in real-time on the various aspects of the experience. Michel Gribble has recently scouted a new pilgrimage route in her own region from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. This event, which traces the famous walk led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King is an effort to explore racial reconciliation and will be co-facilitated with African American leadership.

Refugee Response 

In partnership with the University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy in Scotland, UK, Ali Newell accompanied by John Philip organized and led a sponsored Sanctuary Walk for Refugees. They walked with fifty students, faculty and friends of the University of Edinburgh in pilgrimage to 2 ancient Celtic sites of hospitality to support the growing vision of sanctuary for refugees in their university, city, and nation. Importantly, they were joined by six young Syrian men who have found new beginnings in Edinburgh. HEARTBEAT joined in the effort through sponsorship and £20,000 was raised towards scholarships through the Humanitarian Assistance Fund of Edinburgh University. This is now being used to support newly arrived refugees at Edinburgh University with their studies.

HEARTBEAT also awarded a $5,000 grant to the Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas. This organization is committed to “accompanying the migrant, homeless, and economically vulnerable people of the border.”Our grant joined efforts in meeting not only the immediate needs of individuals and families, but advocating for a humane response to the plight of migrants and fighting against the rampant misinformation that is affecting recent policy decisions in the U.S.

Pilgrims walking in silence on the Sanctuary Walk

Pilgrims walking in silence on the Sanctuary Walk

Operations and Funding

Staff, Board of Directors and VIPs

Karin Baard on El Camino de Santiago

Karin Baard on El Camino de Santiago

Karin Baard was hired as the part-time Communications Assistant in November of last year in response to the growing administrative demands of Heartbeat’s publicity needs and of the expanding SCC. Karin joined our staff amidst an ongoing journey with HEARTBEAT. She successfully applied to receive a Scholarship Award for the 2013 Camino Peace Pilgrimage and also served for two years on the Board of Directors. Her quick, diligent and dynamic work has provided the means necessary to support Heartbeat’s over all growth and allowed the Executive Director to focus more attention on fundraising, program development, and improving organizational systems. After six months of first class work, Karin’s title was changed to Communications Coordinator and her hours were increased from 20 to 30 per week.

 

 

Ben Lindwall on El Camino de Santiago

Ben Lindwall on El Camino de Santiago

Ben Lindwall celebrated five years serving as Executive Director for Heartbeat last summer. He first joined the Board of Directors in 2011 after receiving a scholarship to attend the Pilgrimage for Change on the Isle of Iona with John Philip and Ali Newell. In 2012 Ben began contract work for HEARTBEAT, initiating new fundraising strategies and supporting communication outreach. Ben became the Executive Director in 2013 and in partnership with John Philip, Ali and the Board of Directors led the organization through significant growth. Since 2013 HEARTBEAT’s income levels have increased by an average of 44% each year. Ben has developed the Pilgrimage Leadership Program, carried on the facilitation of the Interfaith Camino Peace Pilgrimage for a fifth straight year, and created a new pilgrimage route on the Pacific Coast Trail in his home state of Oregon. He has thrived while navigating the fresh challenges of shepherding a growing organization and we are grateful for his contribution to furthering HEARTBEAT’s mission.

 

 

HEARTBEAT Staff and Board of Directors

HEARTBEAT Staff and Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Chair: Steve Romeyn of Roswell, GA
Vice Chair & Secretary: Rob McClellan of Fairfax, CA
Roy Barsness of Seattle, WA
Margaret Anne Fohl of Lancaster, VA
Frannie Hall Kieschnick of Palo Alto, CA
Saul Kohn of Philadelphia, PA
Charles LaFond of Albuquerque, NM
Honorary: John Philip Newell and Ali Newell

Staff and VIPs:

Executive Director: Ben Lindwall of Portland, OR / Email: ben@heartbeatjourney.org
Communications Coordinator: Karin Baard of Portland, ME / Email: karin@heartbeatjourney.org
Recording Secretary: Joni Mack of Jackson, WY
Books and CDs: Elizabeth Cauthorn of San Antonio, TX

Development

After another successful end of year campaign, we exceeded our fundraising goals, bringing in a total of $169,500 in 2017 – a 22% increase from the year before. These funds provide scholarships for those with limited income, fueled our media outreach, and sustained HEARTBEAT’s operations. The graph below illustrates our ongoing growth in development income, which demonstrates the growing desire to be a part of such a vital movement and community.

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Click here to view a copy of our 2016 tax return.

Letter from El Paso

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Port of entry in downtown El Paso

Three weeks ago, I silently filed into the back of a federal courtroom in El Paso, Texas, less than a mile from my home, roughly half a mile from the international border, to witness groups of twenty migrants being sentenced en masse for the federal misdemeanor of illegal entry.  In two hours’ time, I witnessed forty migrants plead guilty.  One defendant was from Mexico, and thirty-nine were from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The average education level was third grade.  Ten of the twenty in the second hour had been separated from their children, according to their public defender.  The migrants struggled to take the oath, raising their hands only inches, as they stood chained, and as people in both sections of the courtroom wept.

Two weeks ago, I marched two miles to a detention center with my youngest son on my back, protesting the idea of family separation for migrants who are really refugees, who have undertaken journeys of more than a thousand miles to save their lives, and if not their lives, then the lives of their children.

One week ago, I crossed over to a neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez to take some supplies to friends of mine in the Tarahumara colonia of that city.  A woman my age, with children my age, asked me if it was true that the Americans were putting children in cages.  I didn’t know what to tell her, as our children were playing peek-a-boo under the ironing board.

It is frustrating to so many in my city, which has been called the Ellis Island of the Southwest, to be once again the focus of worldwide media attention due to a situation beyond our control.  Even our mayor, who happens to be a strong Republican, disavowed national policy and rhetoric at a meeting in Tornillo’s tent city this past week.  We have long suffered from a broader misunderstanding of the border, of this place, of the benefits and the threats we face.  To have a global leader spew falsehoods about our home is just the latest manifestation of a broader fear of a mixture of cultures.  The dehumanizing language used by this administration should be denounced; the use of words such as “infestation” and “invasion” is language that leads to war and genocide.

On May 7, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions openly declared the administration’s “zero tolerance” stance, leaving communities that are on the frontline to deal with the consequences.  I am heartened by the moral outrage that was fueled worldwide, and it was inspiring to have an overwhelming response from diverse political sides saying that, of course, families belong together.  However, there have been so many ongoing human rights problems that this border experiences, including the mass sentencings, the systematic denial of the right to asylum, and now the potential long-term detention of families.

What is lacking is any fundamental compassion for the migrant.  At a time when the U.S. took in a paltry 30,000 refugees as of last year, it is time to reexamine our commitment to peoples in mortal danger.  Those of us alive in the 1980s should be reminded that President Reagan took in upwards of 200,000 refugees annually, at a time when the U.S. population was much smaller.  And we also seem to forget that El Paso, Texas is a microcosm of what the entire country is – a beautiful country of immigrants and refugees from all over the world.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by compassionate and open people in my city, from my neighbors to my church to my elected officials.  I live in a beautiful historic neighborhood within walking distance of our downtown international bridge.  My children play soccer in the alleys and ride bikes around the block without any fear, Spanish and English mixed in with their laughter.  We want our children to grow up in a bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-national place.  We know that bridges are so much more important than walls.

Many people worldwide have wanted to do something to help. Monetary donations are the most needed means of support at this moment; both helping take care of the immediate needs of migrants and providing bond money so that families can be reunited are at the heart of most organizations’ missions.  Heartbeat’s Refugee Fund has aided refugees all over the world, including in El Paso at Annunciation House.  This is not a short-term crisis, but a slowly growing humanitarian disaster that could be avoided. Thank you for reading this far, and please keep all migrants worldwide in your prayers.  And come to the border to see for yourself what a magical place this is!  I and my neighbors will welcome you.

Vanessa Johnson, former Chair of Heartbeat
El Paso, Texas

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Last year, Heartbeat granted a $5,000 grant to Annunciation House in El Paso to support their work with refugees. Annunciation House not only meets the immediate needs of individuals and families (many being released from detention), but also advocates for a humane response to the plight of migrants and fights against the rampant misinformation that is influencing recent policy decisions in the US. Heartbeat is committed to continuing to support the work of Annunciation House and other similar organizations working to support migrants and refugees. You can contribute to this work by giving to Heartbeat’s Refugee Fund by clicking here.

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Matter Matters

Frannie Kieschnick (far left) and other women of faith at the border in Texas. Follow @Revfhk1 and @FaithPublic Life on Facebook and Twitter for more updates. Credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidchoy

Frannie Kieschnick (far left) and other women of faith at the border in Texas. Follow @Revfhk1 and @FaithPublic Life on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.
Credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidfchoy

John Philip Newell teaches that the word “sin” comes from the old German word sünde meaning “to rip apart” (sunder). In recent weeks, we at HEARTBEAT have been horrified, outraged, and heartbroken by the sins at the border of the United States; families being ripped apart, separated, detained, and neglected.

As George MacLeod, the founder of the modern-day Iona Community and a great Celtic teacher, was known to say, “Matter matters.” That is, at the heart of the material is the spiritual. How we care for the matter of earth matters. How we care for others’ bodies, how we care for the hungry, how we treat the bodies of refugees is a spiritual act. Christ is vibrant in the material world, and Christ’s presence calls us to the painstaking service to humanity’s most material needs.

In the United States, at this moment, some of humanity’s most material needs – shelter, food, safety, love, compassion, empathy – are being demeaned, ignored, neglected, and more.

We firmly believe that our true spirituality is found when we hold mysticism and activism in prayerful balance. We access the wisdom of our Christian inheritance and deepen our own spiritual practice in relationship to this wisdom so that we can practice compassionate action in the world.

This week, one of our beloved board members, Frannie Kieschnick, headed to McAllen, Texas, with a delegation of twelve women of faith representing Baptists, Evangelicals, Mormons, and Protestants. In Texas, they will bear witness to the experiences of immigrant families at the border and elevate their stories for people to hear.

McAllen is one of the busiest ports of entry for immigrants and home to one of the largest detention centers in the country. He-who-must-not-be-named partially capitulated to the moral outcry in the US last week, but this country is still in a moral crisis. The plight of over 2,000 children separated from parents is up in the air. The Attorney General’s “Zero Tolerance” policy remains in effect. Under this policy, whole families can now be imprisoned. Their delegation will:

  • Visit a respite center for families released from detention by US Customs and Border and listen to the stories of mothers, fathers, and children.
  • Organize a prayer vigil and press conference outside a processing center to amplify faith voices around the immoral policies that separated children from their parents and now imprison whole families indefinitely.
  • Join with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for a solidarity rally in Brownsville, Texas, lending their support to a broader movement calling for justice for immigrants.

Please follow the delegation’s journey at @Revfhk1 and @FaithPublicLife on Twitter and Facebook. We, at Heartbeat, will be following and sharing their updates from the border as well as other reflections from past and current Heartbeat board members.

Suzii Paynter, Frannie Kieschnick, and Jennifer Butler "Listen to your heartbeat and know that the hearts of those who are simply seeking a home, seeking asylum are beating hearts just as ours. That we are connected, that we are connected as children of God."  --- Hildago, TX --- Photo Credit: David F. Choy

Suzii Paynter, Frannie Kieschnick, and Jennifer Butler in Hildago, TX
“Listen to your heartbeat and know that the hearts of those who are simply seeking a home, seeking asylum are beating hearts just as ours. That we are connected, that we are connected as children of God.”

Photo Credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidfchoy

 

On Wednesday, June 27th, Christian women of faith cried out with immigrant families and children at the McAllen, TX border and demanded justice now!  Photo credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidchoy

On Wednesday, June 27th, Christian women of faith cried out with immigrant families and children at the McAllen, TX border and demanded justice now!
Photo credit: David F. Choy | Facebook: David F. Choy | Instagram: @davidfchoy

2018 Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage

September 13 – 17, 2018 | Northern Oregon Coast, USA

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Application Deadline: July 22, 2018
Notification of application status: August 6, 2018

Application Fee: $10
Registration Fee: $475
Scholarship Award: $425
(Scholarship recipients will be require to pay a $50 registration fee)

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The Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage: Recovering the Sacred is a spiritual and intercultural learning experience drawing from Celtic Christian and Native American Wisdom. Through the ancient spiritual practice of pilgrimage, we seek to recover our inherent and sacred connection to all living things.  Our walk together will be an act of resistance. We will explore our unique, generative, and creative response to the dominant and violent forces of our time that perpetuate our disconnection. Guided spiritual practices will invite each pilgrim towards restoration of harmony and right relation with self, Creator, neighbor, and the planet.

This pilgrimage route meanders along the Pacific Coast Trail in Northern Oregon, USA, and traverses approximately 35 miles of seaside foothills, sand dunes, coastal rainforest and expansive breathtaking beaches. Beginning with the rising of the sun in the morning, our group will walk 10-15 miles each day by way of trail, beach, and brief roadside walking.

Indian Beach

Indian Beach

Pedagogy and Program 

Pilgrims will practice together what it means to be a beloved community, making specific agreements about our group norms and way of being together. Differences among group members, whether in ideology, religion, ethnicity, or race will be honored and seen as opportunities for growing in awareness and understanding. Together we will journey towards healing, connection, wonder and a clear sense of calling.

Periods of walking in silence, facilitated conversations, reflection, observance of nature, and prayer will support the embodiment of the experience. Participants will be required to read Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality by John Philip Newell and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachers of Plants by Robin Wall Kimerrer as a primer for our learning. Creative morning prayer and intentions will start each day before settling into rhythms of silence, sharing our stories, breaking bread, holding space for authentic connection, and group dialogue.Our intention is to learn from each other, the surrounding natural landscape, and the required readings. This will be our basis for exploring our unique and communal call to participate in meaningful action towards healing and transformation in the world.

Required Reading

Participants will be required to read the following as a primer for our learning.

  • Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality by John Philip Newell
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimerrer

Trip Leaders

The NW Coastal Pilgrimage is led by Ben Lindwall and Stephanie Escher.

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Ben is the Executive Director of HEARTBEAT, based in Portland, OR and has been leading spiritually oriented trips for over a decade. He is a certified Spiritual Director and is also certified in First Aid. Ben made the pilgrimage to the Isle of Iona in Scotland in 2011 and has since been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell.

 

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Stephanie,  Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, is a hospice Chaplain and engages in faith-based ministry on a volunteer basis at Hennepin Ave UMC in Minneapolis, MN. Stephanie is a Native American and a former pilgrim from Heartbeat’s 2015 Camino Peace Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

 

Trail over Tillamook Head

Trail over Tillamook Head

Physical Expectations, Training and Terrain

Pilgrims are required to train with a loaded pack and must be prepared to walk up to 20 miles on any given day. The first day (15 miles) involves walking on firm, flat sand during low tide. The second day (12 miles) includes a major 1000 ft climb up and over Tillamook Head on forested state park trails (pilgrims must be able to walk on uneven, rocky and sometimes muddy ground) with a steep ascent and descent. The third and final full day (8 miles) of walking returns to the beach below picturesque seaside bluffs during low tide. The route consists of approximately 60% beach walking, 35% forested trails, and 5% roadside walking.

The trip leaders will work to find a pace that works for everyone, usually a fairly brisk walk. The element of a physical challenge and willingness to push through discomfort is an intentional aspect of the pilgrimage and we believe this can be an important tool in the transformation process. Sharing such an experience with others and offering or receiving support along the way can augment the positive outcomes. If pain or discomforts arise, each pilgrim will be personally responsible for expressing their needs and judging their ability to continue.

While usually sunny this time of year, the possibility always exists for high winds, cool air, and rain. Our group will be expected to walk rain or shine unless dangerous conditions are present. Trekking poles are highly recommended and appropriate heavy-duty waterproof rain gear should be packed.

A few other details to keep in mind:

  • At certain times restrooms will not be available and there may be minimal coverage for privacy.
  • A couple stream crossings will be necessary.
  • Group time will be spent sitting in a circle, sometimes on the ground for up to one hour.
  • Each participant should also be prepared to carry up to 2 lbs of food and/or other gear needed for the whole group.
  • To maximize the ideal time of beach walking on firm sand during low tide, some days may start as early as 5:00am.

Cost and Application Process

There is a $10 application fee, and you must be at least 18 years of age for the entirety of the event to be considered.. Those who wish to apply must complete the online application and have a mentor, teacher, or spiritual leader complete an online reference form by July 22, 2018. 

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Please have medical history information available for filling out the application to help us ensure that selected participants are physically and mentally able to complete this pilgrimage. Please be aware that the co-leaders of this trip practice spiritual accompaniment, have experience leading wilderness trips, and are certified in First Aid but are not medical or mental health professionals. A brief phone interview is also required once the application is submitted. There is space for 12 participants and applicants will be notified of their status by August 6. All selected participants will be required to provide proof of insurance and emergency contact information and sign Heartbeat’s Release and Indemnification Waiver and purchase travel insurance (if not included in current policy).

The cost of this pilgrimage is $475 and scholarship funds are available for those with limited income. The registration fee covers meals, lodging, transportation from Portland to the coast and back, guided walking, and program.

Scholarships are available and successful scholarship applicants will receive a $425 scholarship towards the overall costs and are required to pay a $50 registration fee.

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Additional costs:

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Meals and Lodging

All meals will be planned by trip staff and prepared by group members. We are happy to accommodate conventional, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diet. Every effort will be made to use locally sourced and organic ingredients.

The first and last night of the trip will be spent in state park yurts. These are semi-rustic accommodations with bunk bed mattresses, electricity, and heat. The second night will be spent at a hostel in Seaside, OR where bunkrooms with bedding are available (we have blocked out rooms for our group only). The third night will be spent at a church in Cannon Beach. Showers, bathrooms and a kitchen are available at all locations.

Itinerary

Accepted applicants will meet at the Leaven Community Center in Portland, OR on Thursday, September 13th at 11am. After lunch (provided), introductions, and orientation the group will be transported by passenger van to Ft. Stevens State Park on the coast, making some food and supply drops along our route on the way. Our walk will conclude near Arch Cape, OR, and we will shuttle back to Ft. Steven’s State Park for our final overnight and group gathering. The group will return to Portland by 12pm on Monday, September 17th.

DAY 1          Meet in Portland, van shuttle to the coast, make food drops along route, overnight at Ft Steven’s State Park

DAY 2          Walk to Seaside, overnight at Seaside International Hostel - MILES: 15

DAY 3          Walk to Cannon Beach, overnight at Community Church - MILES: 12

DAY 4          Walk to Arch Cape, shuttle back to Ft. Stevens State Park - MILES: 8

DAY 5          Return to Portland, OR

Tentative Daily Schedule:

6:00   Prayer/meditation
6:30   Breakfast
7:15    Depart for morning walk
9:30   Morning break: snack, prayer, and story sharing
10:15  Walk
12:30  Lunch break
1:00    Walk
3:00   Afternoon break: snack, prayer, and story sharing
3:45    Walk
5:00    Arrive at lodging/free time
6:30    Dinner
7:15     Group time
9:30    Light out

View from Hug Point

View from Hug Point

 

Packing list

*Please be mindful that the packing list includes what you will be wearing (for instance, you will wear one pair of socks and pack two— three total)

Depending on weather forecast, you may plan to leave some luggage locked up in the shuttle trailer to avoid excess carrying on the trail.

  • Socks (3) light wool for hiking
  • Sock liner (3) prevents blisters (optional)
  • Underwear (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Comfortable sports bra (2)
  • Shorts (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Pants (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Shirts (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Long sleeve shirt (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Lightweight hiking shoes
  • Light sandal
  • Rain jacket
  • Hat
  • Moleskin (or other blister treatment)
  • earplugs
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush
  • Laundry detergent
  • Toothpaste (small tube)
  • Soap (small all purpose bar for body and hair, if possible)
  • Water bottle (at least 900ml/32oz)
  • 5 clothespins
  • Plastic plate, fork, and spoon
  • Hiking towel (small quick dry)
  • Toiletries
  • Medication
  • Backpack
  • Pillow
  • Journal
  • Pen or pencil
  • Camera phone and waterproof container
  • Sleeping bag and mat (note: these items will be dropped at a specific site and will note be carried in backpack)
  • Small pocket knife (see TSA regulations if transporting knife in carry-on luggage)
  • Feminine Urinary Device (like this one at REI)

Cancellation policy

Registration fees are nonrefundable unless another participant is able to fill a cancelation.

John Muir and Earth Day

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Today, on this Earth Day, we honor John Muir, the greatest modern prophet of environmental consciousness and action. Earth Day – April 22 – is wonderfully twinned with John Muir Day – April 21 – a day designated to recognize this great teacher who comes to us in a stream of  Celtic guides who celebrated the sacredness of the Earth.

John Philip Newell fondly calls John Muir [1838-1914] “an American Celt” for though he spent most of his life in the United States, he was born and spent his boyhood in Scotland. In a recent lecture at the University of Edinburgh, John Philip Newell examined the Celtic roots of John Muir. Click on the link below to hear is an audio clip from that lecture. There is also a transcript below.

Audio Clip from John Philip Newell Lecture “John Muir: Celtic Prophet of Ecological Consciousness”

Prayer for the Life of the World

For everything that emerges from the earth
thanks be to you, O God,
Holy Root of being
Sacred Sap that rises
Full-bodied Fragrance of earth’s unfolding form.
May we know that we are of You
may we know that we are in You
may we know that we are one with You
together one.
Guide us as nations to what is deepest
open us as peoples to what is first
lead us as a world to what is dearest
that we may know the holiness of wholeness
that we may learn the strength of humility
that together we may live close to the earth
and grow in grounded glory.

John Philip Newell | Praying with the Earth | Photo by Jad Limcaco on Unsplash

 

Transcript:

Something of the ancient Celtic strand comes to Muir through his grandfather, David Gilrye, who lived across the street from him in Dunbar, and who encouraged in the boy an open-eyed wonder at nature and his expeditions along the coastline.

“When I was a boy in Scotland,” wrote Muir, “I was fond of everything that was wild and all my life, I’ve been growing fonder and fonder of wild places and wild creatures. And best of all as a boy in Dunbar I loved to watch the waves in awful storms thundering on the black headlands and craggy ruins of Dunbar castle when the sea and the sky, the waves and the clouds, were mingled together as one.”

In Muir’s later unfolding, he says, “All terrestrial things are essentially celestial.” All terrestrial things are essentially celestial. That is, everything on earth is essentially of heaven. At the heart of all matter is spirit.

“The earth,” he said, “is a divine incarnation.” He uses this word ‘incarnation’ which in religion has tended only to be referred to Jesus in the context of… For Muir it is not just Jesus. It is not just humanity or the creatures. It is even the geological foundations of the earth that he sees as sacred. Playfully he calls them the ‘in-stone-ations’ of God.

Everything is essentially spirit, he says, clothed upon with flesh, with leaves, with water, or that harder substance called rock. All these buried forms of matter are simply portions of God. They are all of the God essence.

Scholarships Available for Iona and the Canada and New England School of Celtic Consciousness

Apply for a scholarship now to attend a pilgrimage on the Isle of Iona or the New England or Canada location of the School of Celtic Consciousness. You don’t want to pass up this opportunity!

Please note that we only consider applicants with significant financial need for scholarship awards.

Iona             Canada School of Celtic Consciousness             New England School of Celtic Consciousness

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Iona Pilgrimage

15 -22 September 2018 | St. Columba Hotel | Iona, Scotland, UK
Award: $1,240 | Application Deadline: 1 May 2018 

Iona Abbey at Sunset

Iona Abbey at Sunset

Each day on Iona will begin and end with the rhythm of prayer and meditation together, either at the Abbey or elsewhere on the island. John Philip will teach on themes related to the oneness of the human soul and the healing of creation, asking what sacrifices we are to make in our lives as individuals, as nations, and as a species, if we and the world are to be well. Click here for more event information.

This scholarship includes lodging, breakfast, dinner, and program fees. Because of limited availability, applicants must be willing to share a room (if applying with a friend or family member, please indicate in the appropriate field on the application).

Additional cost to recipients: travel expenses to get to Iona and lunch each day.

 Instructions: fill out the online application form by clicking here and have a mentor, teacher, or advisor complete our online reference form – found by clicking here - by May 1, 2018. A Heartbeat Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by May 18, 2018. The funds will then be transferred directly to the St. Columba Hotel in the recipients’ name.

If you require further financial assistance in traveling to Iona, you may apply for an additional $500 travel stipend. To apply for a travel stipend, please click here.

Please note there is an application fee: $10. An invoice will be sent via PayPal once your application is submitted.

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Canada School of Celtic Consciousness

3 – 5 July 2018 | Five Oaks Retreat Centre | Paris, Ontario, Canada
Award: $420 | Application Deadline: 1 May 2018

This is the first annual gathering (and the only Canadian location) of the Canada School of Celtic Consciousness, a place to nurture a community of shared vision and spiritual practice for transformation in our lives and world. This retreat is open to all. The teachings will focus on the central themes of Celtic Spirituality including the sacredness of the earth and the human soul. Contemplative practices will concentrate on sustainable disciplines for individual well-being and collective healing. Click here for more event information.

This scholarship includes food, lodging, and program fees. Scholarship recipients are responsible for their own transportation to/from the event. Recipients will be asked to share a room.

Instructions: fill out the online application by clicking here and have a teacher, mentor, advisor, or religious/spiritual leader fill out our online reference form - found by clicking here - by May 1, 2018. Heartbeat’s Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by May 18, 2018.

Please note there is an application fee of $10. An invoice will be sent via PayPal once your application is submitted.

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New England School of Celtic Consciousness

10 – 12 July 2018 | Mercy by the Sea | Madison, Connecticut, USA
 Award: $350 | Application Deadline: 1 May 2018

This is the second annual gathering of the New England School of Celtic Consciousness, a place to nurture a community of shared vision and spiritual practice for transformation in our lives and world. This retreat is open to all. The teachings will focus on the central themes of Celtic Spirituality including the sacredness of the earth and the human soul. Contemplative practices will concentrate on sustainable disciplines for individual well-being and collective healing. Click here for more event information.

This scholarship includes food, lodging, and program fees. Scholarship recipients are responsible for their own transportation to/from the event. Recipients will be asked to share a room.

Instructions: fill out the online application by clicking here and have a teacher, mentor, advisor, or religious/spiritual leader fill out our online reference form – found by clicking here -  by May 1, 2018. Heartbeat’s Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by May 18, 2018.

Please note there is an application fee of $10. An invoice will be sent via PayPal once your application is submitted.

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Let Me Serve Love, a Chant

 Our friends at AwakeningSoul have lovingly created a musical setting for one of John Philip Newell’s prayers from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter. We hope you enjoy the chant below, “Let Me Serve Love”, composed by Lindsey Blount and Fran McKendree and performed by the AwakeningSoul Ensemble.

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To play, please click at the very left edge of the audio file. 

Performed by the AwakeningSoul Ensemble;
Lindsey Blount Lange, lead vocals
Isabel Castellvi, cello and vocals
River Guerguerian, percussion
Fran McKendree, vocals, acoustic guitar, mountain dulcimer
Charles Milling, bass, electric guitar and vocals

 

Let Me Serve Love  words; John Philip Newell © John Philip Newell
music; Lindsey Blount Lange/Fran McKendree © 2018 Neath Music, BMI

 

Soon available for download on CDBaby.com and iTunes