What's encouraging you these days? What's keeping your spirits up?
This is our original "Bits of Encouragement" page -there's lots of good stuff here.
Daily at 10am and 4pm, we're adding new content to the new page:
Send your inspiring stories of hope, compassion and care.
Pictures. Poetry. Art. Songs.
If it's somebody else's work, please be sure to note the author/composer/source when submitting
Blessing When the World is Ending
Look, the world
is always ending
the sun has come
it has gone
it has ended
with the gun,
it has ended
with the slammed door,
the shattered hope.
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone,
the hospital room.
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
this blessing means
to be anything
It has not come
to cause despair.
It is simply here
because there is nothing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.
will not fix you,
will not mend you,
will not give you
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.
It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
as the world begins
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
I've been leaning on Julian of Norwich whose "showings" carried the faithful through periods of The 100 Years' War, the Peasant Rebellion, a deposed king, and 3 outbreaks of the Bubonic plague!
"God did not say, "You shall not be tormented, you shall not be troubled, you shall not be grieved,' but God said, 'You shall not be overcome.'"
Janita Baker is the artistic director of the Menucha Dulcimer Festival. When we asked her to share some thoughts about Menucha, she started with this quotation from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh.
"I am so thankful that Menucha is always with me—especially right now. The memories of the peacefulness and beauty combined with the magic of the music we make during our Dulcimer Festival week help us all through difficult times. Thank you, Menucha, for being with us always." - Janita Baker
Ski trip canceled…so Philipp made a stop action skiing movie
Inspiring Concert in Milan’s Cathedral Concludes on its Steps with Amazing Grace
Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!
PeaceMeal, the Easter Story
Kathy recommended we share a recording of PeaceMeal, the story of Easter delivered by storyteller Justyn Rees and musician Russ Rosen. (They spend the first 6 minutes welcoming people, so skip ahead to the 7 minute mark for the start of the story.) It's about an hour long and as Justyn Rees describes Jesus and the Last Supper, he invites watchers to participate at home with their own bread and wine. Russ Rosen interjects familiar songs (Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is one) and songs of his own. The experience is kind of like hearing the Easter story around a campfire rather than in a cathedral.
Newspaper deliveryman brings groceries free of charge to over 100 elderly people on and off his route
His kindness started when he tucked a note inside the newspapers: "My name is Greg and I deliver your newspaper every morning. I would like to offer my services, free of charge, to anyone who needs groceries." He wasn't into volunteering before but now he's thinking he'll keep going even when the pandemic is over.
"So sorry we can't gather to mourn the loss of John Prine, am missing all at Bluegrass in the Gorge and I hope to share this new little tune next year when we'll all be together again! Stay safe, stay healthy!" - Anne Carroll Gilmour
7th Inning Stretch is "Daily Respite" for Organist and Many Others
Josh Kantor, the organist at Boston's Fenway Park was missing baseball and community, so he has started a daily live 7th-Inning Stretch on Facebook. He goes live at 3 pm Eastern, taking requests and raising money for local food banks. Click the link to see him in action.
Hooray! Easter Bunny & Tooth Fairy are “Essential Workers” says Prime Minister
John Krasinkski’s “SGN” (Some Good News) What’s the Good News you’re seeing/hearing/experiencing/sharing?
"This hymn, being sung this morning, at the Christian church whose members opened Menucha as a place of hospitality for people of all faiths and of no faith in particular; this hymn brings me a sense of hopefulness, reminding me I am one in a long line of people who try to live our lives anchored to our faith, not shaken by the worries of the day." L.W.D.
One 1989 children’s book is coming to life during the COVID-19 crisis. The children's book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen depicts five children going on a bear hunt and running into various obstacles they have to overcome.
Similarly, people cannot go around the effects of the coronavirus. They are having to go through it. Across the country, people are providing fun for others to find by placing teddy bears in windows. Earlier this week, Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald encouraged residents to join the national movement, and other Shelby County residents placed the stuffed animals in their windows to bring smiles.
Residents are encouraged to drive or walk and count bears they see peeking out the window.
Serving Dinner to Strangers?
(or The Secret Reason to Help Serve Meals at Menucha)
Serving dinner to strangers? Oh, OK. Part of the deal, I guess. So I signed up to be a server for a dinner meal at the Dulcimer Gathering at Menucha several years ago. I arrived on time, got my instructions, and went to work. It was a hustle to get the food out, get drinks served, red up the table, and clean after. Seemed pretty easy. As I was serving, the word became an act of connecting and loving others. I joshed with my table mates, looked after their needs, and realized the importance of setting aside some “me” time to build relationships. In consequent visits, I looked forward to doing this “work” as a chance to get to know my classmates, tease them and make them laugh, and chat about the weather and the glorious places at Menucha. Small acts of kindness and service enhance our experiences no matter where we are. I’ll never forget this training that opens my eyes and heart to others I barely know, leading to friendship and shared love of life. - Sharon Porter
Sharon has participated in Menucha Dulcimer festival since 2016. She sent us her "Menucha story" - we would welcome yours, too. Submit it via the button near the top of this page.
"I am grateful for John O’Donohue who wrote among other lovely books, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. His “Blessing for the New Year” ("Beannacht") feels especially appropriate as we seek encouragement in these challenging days." ~Carmen Goetschius
For an effervescent lift today, watch the Canote Brothers lead the gang in a tune called "Thingamajig." It begins at about the 3:40 mark. At the 6:00 mark, fiddler Greg Canote just explodes, to the surprise and delight of the rest of the band. (What IS the name of that thingamajig he's trying to remember?) Video from the instructor concert after Menucha's Ukulele Band Camp in 2013. Playing along with Greg and Jere Canote are James Hill, Mandalyn May, Paul Hemmings, Matt Weiner, and Nova Devonie.
Simply joyful! A Dog Named Stella …
Spotted this bit of cheer while out on a walk: a rainbow made of Post-It notes! Three cheers for making art that lifts the heart with whatever materials you have on hand!
Blues in the Gorge=Community
by Mary Flower
When the idea came to me that we needed a guitar camp somewhere near Portland, I envisioned the education, the fun, the music that would be made all throughout the week. What I didn’t expect were the friendships that would form among the students that would persist long after camp was over.
Blues in the Gorge is about to experience its 8th year (God willing) in October. After year 5 or 6 I was told of a group of our students who met monthly for a jam session at one of the student’s homes. It was only open to our students from this area. I was more than pleased that some of the regulars were continuing to grow and develop and skills as well as friendships outside of camp.
We’ve hosted a few instrument builders to join us at camp. Both have sold instruments to our students sometimes months after camp. I’m so glad we’ve helped support these hard working luthiers who spent time with us.
With the current lockdown, times have been hard for some of us self-employed musicians. Today I gained a Skype student from CA who has been to our gathering for a few years. I realized I’d never really gotten to know her. She’s absolutely wonderful and over the moon to get these one on one lessons.
Serendipitous happenings like these always surprise me in the best way and are a reflection of the wonderful spirit of these players who attend. We’ve never had a “bad apple” and I’m thrilled to be a part of a community that has continued beyond our 5 days at camp. Thanks to the great staff at Menucha for giving us the perfect place to begin building a community through music.
“This made me very happy when I watched it. It’s over 1,000 people from 18 countries singing Close to You. I couldn’t help but sing along!”
Submitted to us: “I watched this video on YouTube, and it really made me smile. :)”
“Sing About It” The Wood Brothers
Ukulele Band Camp faculty Kevin Carroll playing “Falling Sideways”
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the song without the words and never stops at all.”
This robin on her nest under the Creevey Commons deck reminded us of Emily Dickinson’s lovely poem about hope.
Chino Hills High School Chamber Singers performing remote concert after their in-person one was cancelled
I’ve seen so many families with kids and small groups of playing kids in my neighborhood. What a wonderful feature of this hard time.
I’ve felt the love and support of my young adult children, checking in with me to make sure I’m ok.