Musical Goings On in Eric’s World

Hey all …

Just wanted to get some info out to people who may be interested in this sort of thing (namely music).

There’s a few things going on…

In north Florida we all know that when it rains it pours… I’ve got three gigs in eight days!

Last Saturday, I got the honor of playing with the amazing Avis Berry. Playing outside in the heat was pretty brutal, but we managed to keep it cool, and Mavis always delivers. Thanks to everyone who listened, and for all the generous comments…

Now, for some upcoming news…

First, if you don’t know, you can find me on iTunes and Spotify now…. As we used to say in Chicago, listen early and often.

I also have a new single out, “You Got My Peace.” Feel free to check it out.

Second, if you’re in Tallahassee/North Florida, I’m playing twice this week:

I’m playing Thursday night at the historic Bradfordville Blues Club. It’s an early show, opening up for the super-talented Rachel Hillman. Come early, space is limited.

I’m playing Saturday night with the Electric Apostles, a great cover band that plays, well, great songs. Come out to Fifth and Thomas (Fifth Avenue, between North Monroe and Thomasville Road).

Last, there will be some more new music coming out this summer as well, as well as some new gigs… Stay tuned!

Thanks for listening, and reading, and supporting… and everything.

+eric

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Because Rumi.

Haven’t written anything here for a while….

No excuses (so don’t look for any) … 

My sleep is slowly returning to normal, which also means that I’m beginning to wake up, on my own, quite early. 

I love the early morning dark. 

(I find that morning “I just woke up” darkness is so much different than night-time “I’m up WAY too late” darkness.)

Anyway, read this as the sun was coming up: 

The whole early is a form for truth.
When someone does not feel grateful
to that, the forms appear to be as he feels.
They mirror his anger, his greed, and his fear.
Make peace with the universe. Take joy in it.

It will turn to gold. Resurrection
will be now. Every moment,
a new beauty. -“Green Ears”

Loved that. I’m trying to make peace with the universe. I know that’s where the resurrection is, where the beauty is.

 

Why I Read the Mystics

This is from a priest, spiritual director and teacher from the 17th-18th century named Jean-Pierre de Caussade. He wrote a little book called Abandonment to Divine Providence that is wrecking my life (in that oh-so-great way) right now.

It is faith which interprets God for us. Without its light we should not even know that God was speaking, but would hear only the confused, meaningless babble of creatures. As Moses saw the flame of fire in the bush and heard the voice of God coming from it, so faith will enable us to understand his hidden signs, so that amidst all the apparent clutter and disorder we shall see all the loveliness and perfection of divine wisdom. Faith transforms the earth into paradise. By it our hearts are raised with the joy of our nearness to heaven. Every moment reveals God to us. Faith is our light in this life. By it we know the truth without seeing it, we are put in touch with what we cannot feel, recognize what we cannot see, and view the world stripped of its superficialities. Faith unlocks God’s treasury. It is the key to all the vastness of his wisdom. The hollowness of all created things is disclosed by faith, and it is by faith that God makes his presence plain everywhere. Faith tears aside the veil so that we can see the everlasting truth.

Dang.

What I Learn in the Monastery 2: Simplicity is Possible

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While I am here, I adhere as much as possible to the rhythms they provide: I attend mostly all of the worship and prayers (5 of them daily, beginning at 4AM and lasting to around 7:45PM). The monastery also provides breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is usually pretty simple, with the main meal being lunch. Dinner tends to be without meat: usually a soup and a salad. There are no televisions, and no computers (besides what you bring). Loud noises, music and “entertainment” are discouraged.

This is so different from how I function at home, especially in regards to food. Though I often fast during the day, I’m a pretty notorious snacker, and I gaze most of the evening. Though technically there are cookies left out all the time for the guests, I find the structure sets an expectation of, well, simplicity. So I eat dinner around 5:30PM, and then not again until 8AM or so. And I really don’t question it. 

Additionally, at the end of a day at home I still tend to fire up Netflix or AmazonPrime for at least some kind of viewing distraction. Maybe for just 45 minutes, but still the contrast is telling.

Being here tells me that this type of life is possible for me: actually I have had enough to eat at dinner, and I don’t need to snack at night. Actually, I can just sit quietly and read a book at night. (At least this year, I haven’t missed Netflix, etc., at all.)

What does it take to bring this back to my “normal” life? How do I embrace more simplicity? More structure? I know that there is a certain complexity to my life—commitments with church and children and my family and friends—but by and large there is also an invitation to say “No” to more so that I can say “Yes” to the important things.

Wake Up Call

Each morning, I read Joan Chittister’s The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century, which is a day-by-day meditation on (you guessed it) The Rule of Saint Benedict. I really enjoyed her comments today:

To bear bad things, evil things, well is for Benedict a mark of humility, a mark of Christian maturity. It is a dour and difficult notion for the modern Christian to accept. The goal of the twenty-first century is to cure all diseases, order all inefficient, topple all obstacles, end all stress, and prescribe immediate panaceas. We wait for nothing and put up with little and abide less and react with fury at irritations. We are a people without patience. We do not tolerate process. We cannot stomach delay. Persist. Persevere. Endure, Benedict says. It is good for the soul to temper it. God does not come on hoofbeats of mercury through streets of gold. God is in the dregs of our lives. That’s why it takes humility to find God where God is not expected to be.

 

What I Learn in the Monastery 1: Psalms Are For Praying

Many of you know that I take an annual 4 day silence and solitude retreat at The Monastery of the Holy Spirit outside of Atlanta, GA. Over the next few weeks, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned in the years that I’ve been going. 

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1.  Psalms are for praying. 

The backbone of a monastic “worship service” is singing (or more accurately, chanting) the Psalms. With five gatherings of worship/prayer a day, they get through the entire catalog of 150 every two weeks. 

Mostly, I grew up in the faith assuming that “psalms” = “songs”. That’s true some of the time, but not all of the time. Many times, the Psalms are actually recorded prayers, and what’s great is that they pretty much reflect the entirety of human experience and emotions (including many emotions that I would personally be terrified to express during prayer).

Initially, it was actually a bit challenging, at least partly because I simply wasn’t used to praying other peoples’ prayers (even if they’re written by King David). I always said my own words. But the more I got used to the gentle rhythm and melodies of the Psalms, I could feel them sinking down into my soul, and what’s more I began to find that I could actually identify with a lot of the sentiments that I saw expressed: I may not have physical enemies like the Psalmists express, but I certainly have internal enemies that are certainly out to get me, and so I could use the feelings towards the physical enemies and point them towards the tapes and baggage of my own life.

In addition, I started to feel an actual security and confidence in these ancient, tested words and prayers. A professor in seminary used to say repeatedly, “The thing is to ask yourself, ‘Can I become the type of person that can pray this prayer with integrity and honesty?’” That phrase resonated with me, and now the Psalms have become a bedrock part of my prayer life.

What We Forget About Grace

I was reading The Book of Joy this morning, and this statement struck me:

“Charity is prescribed by almost every religious tradition. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, called zakat. In Judaism, it is called tsedakah, which literally means “justice.” In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is called dana. And in Christianity, it is charity.”

Speaking from the Christian point of view, obviously this is correct. But it struck me that there’s another level that exists, mostly related to the word from which “charity” is derived.

“Charity” comes from the Greek word charis, which means “grace” (which in turn is mostly translated as “unmerited favor”)

To be charitable to someone is to extend grace to them.

As I’m constantly trying to remind people, grace is not something that simply gets us into heaven: It is the constant and consistent attitude that God adopts towards us. 

It goes way past forgiveness, and with the concept of “charity,” it brings us into the equation, where we are able to (well really we are called to) imitate God by extending charity—grace—to those around us.

+e