South Texas, The Land of Milk and Honey

20130325-144311.jpgAfter a few months in the browns and reds of the desert, the lush greens, slight humidity and rolling hills of Austin were a welcomed sight. Our time in Austin was eclectic with opportunities to be in community with our hosts, the Newell family and friends, connecting with new friends, sharing music, sharing sacred space, lending a helping hand with projects and enjoying some quality family activity, including paddle boarding, kayaking, dining out and a little bit of shopping.

20130325-144300.jpgOur first weekend we enjoyed the sounds and sights of SxSW, which was significant in and of itself. However, our week with the Newells was when all of the magic happened. Our favorite restaurant was Torchie’s Taco’s! Pete, Lori and their three darlings took us there after church our first Sunday in town and we fell in love. Torchie’s started out as a food truck and now has about four locations throughout the city. Through out the week we made it to three of the locations. ūüôā Monday evening we shared our first BBQ on the grill with them. I made my Grandma’s potato salad, the sun was warm and there was a cool breeze. The kids had fun running and jumping on the trampoline, listening to music and taking a load off.

Tuesday we helped Lori set up the house for a house concert. They invited all sorts of friends and neighbors and acquaintances. The energy was high and all of their guests made the evening so lovely.

Wed. it was 91 degrees and we decided to hit the water. We went paddle boating and kayaking down on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake which is part of the Colorado River. It’s calm, pristine and offered us relief from the heat. We floated for about an hour, watching the University of Texas rowing team practice along side us.

Later that evening, we all meet the Newell’s at Rudy’s BBQ for a Texas favorite. I’ve seen Rudy’s sauce in the grocery story but it was fun to actually be eating where it was created. And man, is it good!

Jesse and Janae
Jesse and Janae

The night didn’t end there, after dinner we trekked about a half hour southwest to Dripping Springs, TX to visit with the Heikkila’s who we had met through the Newell’s. Jesse, Janae and their four children live on a beautiful property with his Sister and her family. The Heikkila’s moved to Austin a few years back and have been building a “Tiny House”¬†on the property. We entered their warm home with delight and amazement. We were excited to hear about their journey in marriage, family and building this fun home. Janae made the most amazing candied nuts to top ice cream sunday’s and Jesse and Craig talked shop (building). ¬†We love meeting kinfolk along our way, especially those who are taking risks and swimming upstream.¬†It was so encouraging to be with them.

20130325-144832.jpgThursday was our last day in Austin and it was equally as delightful as the days that ran before it. I met a woman named Ruby James. We had actually met at Steel Bridge songfest in Sturgeon Bay, WI the summer prior. She had approached us after we played our set and thanked us for waking her up gently. Later that summer, we saw her again at another venue and had an opportunity to chat a bit more. There was something about her bright spirit and so when we arrived in Austin and I saw she was living here, I thought it would be great to see her again. There was an ease when we chatted on the phone and through the course of our conversation I shared some of the struggles we were having with our son. His transition from adolescents into manhood were taking a toll on us as parents and her listening ear was kind. She had an idea, a way to maybe encourage our son and lined up an opportunity for him to meet a fella named Dony Wynn. Dony is a world-class drummer and has worked with folks like Robert Plant, Patti Griffin and Robert Palmer. He met us at his front door with a bright smile and invited us into his space. There were percussion instruments everywhere and Dony was open and inviting, engaging our son in conversation and sharing his story. It was an honor to meet him and I’m sure will be an important part of our son’s story down the line.

20130325-144740.jpgLater that night we were invited to share in sacred space at a Bahai’ New Years celebration. We met Rose, our host, at the Newell house concert a few days prior and she gave us a little overview of her vision to bring together community in her neighborhood and her efforts to host weekly multi-faith gathering. This week they were focusing on music. We shared with her a potential offering/workshop we call “sound scape” which is an exercise that allows even the laymen and opportunity to be creative. She loved the idea and so we arrived, ¬†shared a few “Hollands!” songs and then had folks break into two groups. Because the gathering was meant to have a spiritual bent we used sacred passage from the bible as the inspiration and each group began to create a sound track that would be played behind the reading of the passage.

Craig’s group choose John 1:1-22, “In the beginning was the Word,¬†and the Word was with God,¬†and the Word was God.¬†¬†He was with God in the beginning.¬†¬†Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.¬†¬†In him was life,¬†and that life was the light¬†of all mankind.¬†¬†The light shines in the darkness,¬†and the darkness has not overcome¬†it…” My group choose Revelations 22:1-5, ¬†“Then the angel showed me the river¬†of the water of life,¬†as clear as crystal,¬†flowing¬†from the throne of God and of the Lamb¬†¬†down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life,¬†bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.¬†No longer will there be any curse.¬†The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.¬†¬†They will see his face,¬†and his name will be on their foreheads.¬†¬†There will be no more night.¬†They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.¬†And they will reign for ever and ever.”¬†Each group entered into the exercise wholeheartedly and the creative interpretations that they each offered was so inspiring. We topped of the night with Persian Tea and lots of hugs and well wishes.

20130325-144823.jpgFriday morning before we set sail we invited Dony and Ruby over for farewell scones. And then we said goodbye to the Newells!

There is such a richness in this life that we lead. Joy is full, pain is real and we accept it all, knowing there is hope and we are not alone. Our week in Austin is proof of that richness and we hold fast to these moments as examples and encouragement for our lives.

Advertisement

SxSW Music Festival

20130319-123548.jpgWe usually take a pretty distant stance in the music business, hanging on the fringes, drifting in and out but really doing our own thing. Mostly because we have come to realize that our families motivations for how we live and what we create together is probably countercultural to all of the pandering that has to happen in that world. However, over the course of the last month we began to see that our routing was going to take us right into the heart of the big beast of an industry to SxSW.

If we could describe SxSW (means South by Southwest) in one word it would be “toiling.” There was a happy slappy, almost devilish type energy through out the air as the streets and local venues were filled with muso’s, business executives, college students on spring break and locals. It was a distorted joy and we sensed a deep undertone of awkwardness, disconnect, and angst.¬†And so, we began to petition for understanding as to our purpose at this festival. We knew two things, we were going to seek opportunities to serve and to encourage. If we were presented with opportunities to share musically great, but not the point. We found an opportunity to volunteer at the Folk Alliance stage on Saturday. Offering a smile as a greeter and selling merch for the bands that showcased on that stage. We also connected with a few friends who were showcasing their talents and sought them out for a chat, to offer encouragement and a moment to just be. These are dear friends who are road weary and have tasted the rotten fruit of the industry. And yet, they continue on, sharing their beautiful gifts and talents, inspiring others through song as they work through their upbringings, beliefs and ideals.

It was a great test of our character to be able to function well in this environment and to see our purpose clearly. Both of our children were able to discern and share some key observations that we believe will take them into adulthood with much wisdom. We felt energized as a family being able to share such depth in such shallow waters. We find serendipity as we travel and are thankful that nothing that we do is meaningless.  We are thankful for the opportunity to see the big picture and to be able to function in that faithfulness, knowing that at the end of the day, when all is stripped away, we are all made of the same mud. We are all one. We continue to move in that reality.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.