She moves in mysterious ways...

For almost 8 months, I have been working towards going to Istanbul, Turkey:  I have practiced vigorously on bass guitar - and taken lessons,too; I have read a dissertation's worth of books and articles about jazz history and music theory, I've played with the Jazz Ambassador's all over Pittsfield learning to stand and deliver - and improvise - and I've prayed this whole thing might come together.  On Monday, we gather at 1:30 pm to head for Kennedy International airport in NYC because... we're going to Turkey!

This is unlike any other trip I've taken:  not only will we be representing the city of Pittsfield but we will be striving to make new friends as part of a people-to-people peace-making commitment.  And while Joseph Dispenza is right when he notes that ALL travel in INNER travel, there is a very public aspect to this pilgrimage that is unique for me.  In the past, Di and I have wandered - that is our preferred approach to the spiritual life and it resonates with how we have entered other journeys - but this is different.

First, we want to share American JAZZ with Turkish musicians and audiences.  Second, we want to build contacts and relationships that might mature into a sister city arrangement with Beyoglu.  And third we are American musicians going to a part of the world that has long been wounded by both Western greed and the clash of very different political worldviews. I am keenly conscious of all three dimensions of this trip - and maybe one more: I, personally, want to learn and watch and listen to how those in a secular Muslim nation balance the demands of faith and service to their country. 

Again, the words of Dispenza are helpful:

If we look at the pattern of the journey as it has come to us over eons, we see some distinct phases. The first is that of feeling called to a journey and imagining how it might be - dreaming about taking the road to another place.  Next is preparation: deciding what is to be taken along and what is to remain behind. The third phase involves making the journey itself, with all its serendipitous encounters and amazing unfoldings. And after that is the homecoming - and finally, to complete the experience, the traveler recounts a tale of the journey.

The vision - or calling - was first articulated almost four years ago during my first meeting with band leader, Andy Kelly.  As we started to talk - and listen - we discovered a deep belief that music can help build bridges.  And at that first lunch meeting at Dottie's Coffeehouse, we both wondered if bringing a jazz band to a Muslim country might come to pass.  After the hatred - and wars - born after September 11th, this has been a regular prayer of mine.  As our friendship ripened - and as we found new and fun ways to play music in church and elsewhere - Andy embraced the dream with faith; he called us together, invited us to join the band and then bought the tickets.  "Now, we HAVE to make this happen because we're going!" he announced.

We have been in preparation for almost as long as a child gestates:  Sue and Andy have worked tirelessly - and creatively - finding us lodging and gigs; they have been bold in their vision and relentless in the details.  Dianne has studied Turkey with a passion - she is our resident cultural context person - and will help us interpret some of the new things we encounter; she has also worked her ass off finding a way to bring her musical gifts into the action of our jazz band.  (She also created a website that accepts DONATIONS that you can check out @ 

All the guys in the band have played for free for the past 8 months so that we might come up with the nearly $10K necessary to make this pilgrimage.  And in addition to working to keep a solid bottom on the band, I've put together a publicity push through Facebook and our "Peace-Making Through Music" blog that has pumped up the interest in this adventure.  (check out the blog @

Apparently Andy's contacts at the State Department have enjoyed our publicity because they not only helped arrange for us to open the Second Annual Arts Dialogue Festival in Beyoglu - on the very day we arrive - but they are working to bring together some Turkish musicians and bloggers for us to visit with and explore the roots of peace-making.  (You can read the whole itinerary on the blog - and keep up to date with us while in-country, too. And while you are at it, check this out:

Phil Cousineau once noted that "the object of pilgrimage is not rest and recreation - to get away from it all... travel brings a special kind of wisdom if one is open to it. At home or abroad, things of the world pull us toward them with such gravitational force that, if we are not alert our entire lives, we can be sucked into their outwardness.  Attentive travel helps us to see this because the continually changing outwards scene helps us to see through the world's pretensions."

So, after worship tomorrow - Pentecost - we're ready for action cuz she really does move in mysterious way that ol' Holy Spirit...

Bono's lyrics put it all into perspective:

One day you will look... back
And you'll see... where
You were held... how
By this love... while
You could stand there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling
Its all right.. .she moves in mysterious ways.


Black Pete said…
When you gather to go to Kennedy, I will be in Toronto (where I might or might not be able to check internet), so I will send my prayers now for travelling mercies for you all, and wishes for wonderful experiences throughout.

God's Abundant Grace.
RJ said…
What brings you to Toronto, brother? Many, many thanks.

Popular Posts