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…

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…

We could try it and see

This Monday at Petit-Château marked the third week in a row we have been working on a new song. it is a song that rises questions that are universal concepts for the human experience: freedom, nationality, identity, fear, violence, acceptance, judgment, power.   We filled two large sheets of paper the first week with words…

Free like a smile

Every Monday I visit the Fedasil Petit-Château Klein Kasteeljte is an opportunity to capture a moment in time in both poetry and song. My co-volunteer Sarah and I often take a bit of a pause in the summer months. It has been increasingly hot in Brussels, and it is important to allow for some downtime…

Hakuna Matata

Without fail, this week’s visit to the refugee center was one, which offered an opportunity for the exchange of culture, experience, and language, as well as the creation of something beautiful.   Sarah and I arrived at the entrance to the center at the same moment, so we entered together and went to sit on…

This magic moment

Sarah and I often talk about how we really never know what will happen on each Monday visit to the refugee center. There are times where we sit and chat on the bench by our worksite, with only each other and the pigeons in the courtyard for company.   We decided long ago that even…

I want to live

This past Monday, we met several residents at the center. Since we have found that beginning by playing music can help to draw people in, Sarah posted the song we wrote the previous week, The hand that hurts can also heal.   As people came to join us, Sarah brought a blank piece of paper…

The Pigeons of Petit-Château

In my nearly 38 rotations around the sun, I have found that there is a deep longing in my own being to be connected with the natural world and with the many species beyond my own with whom I share this beautiful planet. I have friends from my park ranger days who would tell me…

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…