A wild idea

This past Monday at the refugee center was cold and gray, but at least it wasn’t raining. We take what we can get with the weather in January in Belgium. The previous week, we had spread out dozen of sheet of paper with poetry and song and taped them all together to make a magic…

Magic carpet of music

Sarah and I spent two hours yesterday afternoon at the Fedasil Arrival Centre in Brussels, taping together page after page of poetry and songs into an enormous magic carpet of hope. Upon these pages were words from the hearts and minds of people from many places, all having traveled to Belgium with the hope of…

Welcome

A few weeks ago, on a particularly gloomy and frigid Monday afternoon, Sarah and I began writing words on a blank page we had posted on the wall at Petit-Château. Our “wall” is really two large wooden doors, but we have found that the packaging tape we use attaches far better onto the door than…

From Africa it’s a long story

The sun shone over Brussels yesterday afternoon, and I experienced the rare occurrence of being too warm for my jacket, scarf, and hat at the tail end of December. I set them on the bench by our open “office” space at a corner of the covered corridor at the refugee asylum center known as Petit-Château…

Before the music

This Monday at Petit-Château was about as dismal at a November afternoon in Brussels can be. A friend came with me who had wanted to experience our poetry and songwriting for a long time. I am always nervous on these occasions because I want them to have a positive experience. My first snafu was nearly…

Give me a chance to live

Our 28 October Monday afternoon poetry and songwriting session at the refugee center was intense and deeply meaningful. It was a moment where many people came together and expressed the joy of being able to share a creative moment in a world of uncertainty.   We began as usual by cleaning up our poetry wall….

Leave us be the way we are

This past Monday was the last day of a three-week visit by my mom and our friend. They traveled to Brussels from the east coast of the United States. From there, we flew to Prague, took the train to Vienna and Budapest, flew the Amsterdam, and took the train back to Brussels. It was exciting…

We are bound together

After volunteering at the asylum center now for nearly two years, the repertoire of songs has grown tremendously. Periodically, I spend about a day going through photos and voice recordings. I try to keep everything organized by putting all of the photos and song files for each song in its own folder. This way, I…

The meaning of life

So far as I can tell from my 37 years on this planet, the purpose of my life seems to revolve around creating empathy and understanding. Since I was a child, I wanted to care for beings who needed love and shelter. My parents allowed me to adopt animals whose owners had abandoned them. I…

Ride the creative wave

I recently wrote a song from my friend Mohammed’s story. The song was derived from a very small portion of the much longer story. We filled several large sheets of paper before beginning to work on the chorus, and it was only a few phrases that made it from the story to the finished song….