Dear Friends ~ Wherever you are in this world, greetings and thank you for your generous donations helping us bring Nan's letter to you. We warmly invite you to sit comfortably, breathe deeply. Look around and within, up and down, over, under, and out. Notice the diversity before your eyes. There's diversity of vistas and horizons, smells and tastes, and the abundant flora and fauna blanketing this earth. Diversity is immediately apparent, openly offering its manifold and minute gifts. We see it in the flowers, trees, and landscapes. We feel it in music, dress, and cultures the world over. We may seek it in myriad cuisines. We marvel in our crayon boxes of the many skin tones humans inhabit. If we are lucky, we live diversity in our relationships, personal, local, and global. I feel particularly blessed in the diversity of our own family, in which the divine provided five children, all now grown: Asian, African American, three born to us, white Irish and German parents. Over the years, we added eight more through foster care!
Despite the abundance of our varied gifts, the human family is yin and yang. We sadly or stridently absorb the flip side of diversity. Our family was certainly not spared. I remember walking with my infant daughter close to me in a snuggly baby carrier on a busy street one sunny day when a man brushed close to me saying, while trying to reach for her, "Where'd you steal that baby?" Such clashes, most far more serious, send out their tentacles pulling us this way and that — some brought about by mundane or even holy differences binding us to bygone notions. Miraculously, some come round and conversely bend us toward the light of one another — not just accepting our differences, but embracing them. As you open our letter today, I invite you to consider the joy, pain, and strength of diversity with its innate ability to "bind us together in love." ~ Mary Ann
What can soothe the soul as much as the grace of music? Music allows us to express and deal with our feelings constructively, lifting them to a new place, a new level of integration. The enchantment of music helps free the soul to sing, and its energy becomes an infectious catalyst to change. On the wings of a beautiful melody, suddenly we feel different, ready to move forward.