Our Collective Journal

February/March 2014


My life flows on in endless song;

Above earth’s lamentation

I hear the sweet though far off hymn

That hails a new creation:

Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear the music ringing;

It finds an echo in my soul—

How can I keep from singing?

From the hymn, “How Can I Keep From Singing?” 

The words were first published on August 7, 1868,

in The New York Observer. Titled "Always Rejoicing",

and attributed to "Pauline T”

Follow this YouTube link to hear Pete Seeger sing this hymn:


Chapter 17

When have you encountered

the Light through Music?  


[Piece on left, Cantus (“Song” in Latin); piece on right, Laus Deo

(“praise be to God' in Latin). Stained glass, Anne Witherspoon.]


Jukebox Driver

I long to close my eyes, but I can’t because I am driving.  I have traveled this long road between school and home a thousand times, but today is different.  Today I chauffeur my parents on a journey none of us are eager to take.  Since finding out my dad has weeks, perhaps days to live, they sit in back and hold hands like teenagers.


A golf-ball sized tumor grows in my father’s brain leaving little... [more]


On Earth as it is in Heaven

One of the most meaningful ways that I have encountered the Light through music was during my sophomore year at George Fox University, when I took a History of Latin America course.  The class was one of my favorites, and it included watching a 1986 film called The Mission, which depicted a Jesuit mission in South America.  The movie touched my heart, and my less than favorable opinion of missionaries at the time, became more complex. ... [more]


Citadel of Otherworldly Light

One day I was sitting at the piano, just dinking around on the keys and I came up with a bit of music that I thought was pretty cool; I wonder what I’ll call it—I know! I’ll call it Citadel of Otherworldly Light. But then I got caught up in the everyday routine, and I forgot how it goes.


Years later, sitting at the piano, I came up with a bit of music that I thought... [more]


He's Chasin Me

Sundays we’d climb the hill

threading our way

on the worn path,

fern banked, sprinkled

with pine needles,

damp breezes lifting off the lake,

sun slipping

through pines and cedars.

A line of girls in blue chambray shirts

with sailor collars edged in white,

we’d take our orderly seats

on split-log benches

strewn with hymnals.

Circled around the fire pit,

we’d wait for Althea to say,

“Open to Hymn 66.”

Every Sunday we would start there.

“We gather together

to ask the Lord’s blessing.

He chastens and hastens

his will to make known.”

Every Sunday I... [more]


Is There a God?

For years I had been questing, endlessly searching—is there a God? I tried reading books on the different ways to call God (Creator, Higher Power, Divine, Universal Energy).  I attended Native American ceremonies.  I walked in nature where I found incredible peace.  I read Peace Pilgrim’s “Steps Toward Inner Peace”.  I attended Jewish ceremonies and Christian churches.  I even tried praying.  I believed I saw God’s light in my baby son, but I wasn’t sure. It... [more]


Minding the Light

K.D., Ben, Leslie and I were out at the VA’s long-term care facility in Vancouver one evening playing music for the guys.  It was a thing I sort of felt led to do, and they thought it was a good idea and could make it so we went together.  We played “Country Roads,” and “Ghostriders in the Sky,” and a bunch of fun tunes.  We all sang, and traded lead vocals; Leslie had her violin. ... [more]


Celestial Harmony

Today is Sunday, January 26th.  Before today, I didn’t expect to write anything for this chapter of Minding the Light.  I’d drawn a blank for this topic.  I’m not a musician, and while I like music very much, I’m not knowledgeable about past composers or present-day musicians or styles. I just enjoy it without knowing the style or the artist or group.  My experiences haven’t been much to relate, other than enjoyment—until today, in meeting,... [more]


The Light Illuminates Pride

Early in my music teaching career, I recall working with a student, perhaps 10 or 11 years old.  I’ll call her Mary.  Mary was pleasant, easy to work with, and put practice effort in; however I never felt a strong teacher-pupil connection or that she embraced being a musician.


After a few years of lessons, Mary took the summer off.  At the first class back, she told me she had been learning a new piece.  Mary... [more]


Comfort in the Night

For the first time all day I was alone. Not really alone, nurses bustled about down the hall and the whole hospital building buzzed with the hushed vibrating energy that was still new and uneasy to me. My sister had just left and I knew her leaving came with both relief and worry for her. This hospital was hard for her, but she had been my rock for hours.


For the last time in a week... [more]



One night I was at an evening worship service with my mother.  The interior of the church was softly lit.  It seemed to be glowing, perhaps from candlelight.  The congregation was singing a hymn when, suddenly, I began to cry.  At first slowly, but within seconds I was sobbing, and then I was crying uncontrollably.  My mother handed me the keys and told me to go sit in the car.  I had the sense that... [more]


Antigua Experience

A few years back I had the honor of being part of Progressa, a Guatemalan Friends teaching group. Our mission was to provide one-on-one English tutorials to university age young people who spoke little or no English.  Most of the students were from educationally underserved villages whose first language was a local dialect, with Spanish being a second, or even third, tongue.  Based in the magical old capital city of Antigua, Guatemala, we had endless... [more]


Song of Peace, Place of Peace

In the spring of 2010 my husband and I took a trip to occupied Palestine. On a Sunday morning we worshipped at Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. Also visiting there was a group from Germany who sang “Dona Nobis Pacem” as a gift to those attending.


That afternoon the choir went their way and we went ours, spending time in Ramallah with the Ramallah Friends Meeting and Quakers from many places in the world as we... [more]


Light to Fight the Shadows

In the spring of 2013, after returning to work from maternity leave, I began advocating for a student with a disability who shall remain unnamed.  Our new-to-the-field psychologist insisted that the student didn’t qualify for specialized instruction because test scores were too high.  Yet the teacher continually expressed concern that the student’s needs were not being addressed. 


This was the kind of situation that involved multiple team meetings and conversations in which, at many times, we... [more]



Come walk with me, the journey is long....

the journey, the journey, the journey is long

And in isiZulu:

Hamba nathi kalulu latu (repeat)

Kalulu, kalulu, kalulu latu (repeat)


A powerful gift of music came to me on the Scottish island of Iona, halfway between Ireland and Scotland.  It is known for the abbey that St. Columba founded.  St. Columba retreated to Iona after a bloody war over scripture.  He felt responsible for having been part of the cause of so... [more]


Good Friday

Measured by the scope of itself, Good Friday ends in silence and death.  I've given up trying to lead worship on Good Friday.  It's too painful for me. 


A few years ago, a small group of us gathered for worship on Good Friday. I was only there to worship. That is, nothing was expected from me.  I could wander into the brokenness and grief of Good Friday without feeling responsible for anyone else's experience.  I could... [more]


Soul Chair, graphite on paper. Bob Henry

Jukebox Driver


On Earth as it is in Heaven


Citadel of Otherworldly Light


He's Chasin Me


Is There a God?


Minding the Light


Celestial Harmony


The Light Illuminates Pride


Comfort in the Night




Antigua Experience


Song of Peace, Place of Peace


Light to Fight the Shadows




Good Friday