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…

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…

Life is long

This Monday at Petit-Chateau was grey, rainy, dark, and dismal. The previous Friday evening, I had visited the center for the volunteer appreciation dinner and joined staff and volunteers on a tour of the arrival portion of the center. We walked from one station to the next, learning about the process whereby those seeking asylum…

She will walk again

  With the recent very cold front that has swept over my little corner of Belgium, it’s difficult to imagine the warmth and sunshine that illuminated my November 25 Monday visit to Petit-Château was warm and sunny. As I sit and write from my kitchen table, a cup of coffee and big, white husky at…

The greatest gift

I had a falling out with a dear friend and music partner several years ago when we made the attempt to turn our creative, musical partnership into a financial one. We had co-developed a method of songwriting together, which was born of the seeds of a songwriting method that my colleague and friend had called…

What gives you hope?

Monday at the refugee center was hopping. When I first began volunteering in January 2017, it had been a residential center. There were residents who have been living there for years, waiting to hear if they would be able to stay in Belgium. Over the past nearly three years of volunteering, I have seen the…

The hand that hurts can also heal

Yesterday’s poetry and songwriting session was magical and also very insightful for me into the inner workings of the creative process (at least, as I experience it). Several people from outside of the center joined us. One person who joined us was our friend Mahmoud, who had been a resident for eight months at the…

We want to live in peace

There are themes that seem to resurface time again in the time I have spent, volunteering at the refugee asylum center. When I worked with a woman from Macedonia on her song, I asked her to tell me her greatest desire. She responded, I want a peaceful life for my children. In several songs, people…

Once a park ranger…

This week was an epic adventure in songwriting and in life. My experience in life is that I often make plans; those plans then take on a life of their own and generally turn out quite differently than I anticipated. This shift can lead to the unexpected, which can be uncomfortable at times but often…

Singing in the new year

I have not written about Monday songwriting in a few weeks. It is ongoing, though there have been a few times I have not been able to join. The center itself has been in a state of transition since this past December, when the rules regarding the asylum process for Belgium were drastically changed and…