Guardame Las Vacas

A Spanish Renaissance piece with folk theme and variations by Luis de Narvaez.  This is another popular piece for students of the guitar.


Julia Florida

Here is a piece I’ve been studying by the great Paraguayan master, Agustín Barrios Mangoré.  Mangoré was a virtuosic guitarist and an innovative composer. After his death in August, 1944, he and his music were forgotten or ignored for nearly two decades. Since then, Mangoré’s recognition has increased significantly among the classical guitar community and this piece is often played in concert. Recent artists such as: David Russell, John Williams, Jason Vieaux, and others have brought his music back to life through their recordings. Quoting John Williams:

“… as a guitarist/composer, Barrios is the best of the lot, regardless of ear. His music is better formed, it’s more poetic, it’s more everything! And it’s more of all those things in a timeless way. So I think he’s a more significant composer than Sor or Guiliani, and more significant composer — for the guitar — than Villa-Lobos.”

Julia Florida is a Barcarola – a style of music sung by the gondoliers in Venice, Italy or any music that is created in this style. Typically in 6/8 meter, it simulates the motion of the boat moving through the waves of the water with the rhythmic rowing of the gondolier. If I ever get there, I’m bringing my guitar!


Bread of Heaven, Bread of Love

From my sermon for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost:

What is the food our soul craves, the bread that Jesus offers?  What is the part of us that is hungriest and most in need of feeding?  We could ponder that question for some time, but at the core of it, I want to say, is the reality and experience of human and divine love. Real soul food is to know that we are loved without measure and without limit.  That we have always been loved and always will be.  Jesus came to reveal the true compassionate and loving nature of God, and he willingly gives his life to reveal that love conquers everything.

Fundamentally, this is what I’ve preached for my entire ordained ministry, it’s my underlying message. That God is a God of love – that we are loved not for who we should be, but for who we genuinely are.  The good news lies in believing this. Our emotional and spiritual health lies in believing this!  St. Paul said that human life is transient but faith, hope, and love, remain, and the greatest of these is love. This is the bread of the soul, the bread of life, to know we are loved and wanted and from that deep place, to bear the love of Christ to others.

Sigmund Freud mocked this idea of unconditional love – he argued that many people are not worthy of love.  Well, that’s to state the obvious of course.  I certainly enounter people who are difficult to love and accept. It would be dishonest to say otherwise.  Part of that difficulty is that we find it very difficult to disengage love from merit.  The religious leaders found it difficult, for their response to Jesus offering bread from heaven was to say,  “Do we not know his father and mother?” “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?” “How can he claim to have come down from heaven?”  I love Jesus’ response “Stop complaining.”  How easy it is for us to complain and transfer our anger and brokenness on to others.  We feel that in order to be loved we must deserve to be loved, we must be worthy, and mostly we feel that we are not worthy and so we focus on the unworthiness of other people.

Thomas Merton once wrote: “God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers and sisters and dare to advance in the love that has redeemed us all in God’s likeness. And to laugh, after all, at the preposterous ideas of ‘unworthiness.’” 

We’re all guilty of missing the mark but we are all received like the prodigal with open arms if we’d only place ourselves into them.  And in just a few moments we will be invited to do just that.  There is a moment of divine grace ahead of us found in the miracle of the Eucharist that can make all the difference in our living.

Full sermon here.

Advancing in Love

From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton

God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers and sisters and dare to advance in the love that has redeemed us all in God’s likeness. And to laugh, after all, at the preposterous idea of “unworthiness.”

Gregg Allman on the Episcopal Church

From Gregg Allman’s memoir, My Cross to Bear:

A big part of my getting straight with God had to do with sobering up. I’ve had a life that’s gone all different places and directions, and I’ve missed out on a certain amount of stuff because of the drugs and alcohol. As I got sober, because I was so sick of missing out, I finally reached out and prayed. Before then I’d been praying for a long time, but I never seemed to get any kind of answer. Later on, though, it became clear to me and kinda hit me at once. It was such a revelation, man.

Basically, what I did, in one big fell swoop, was surrender, and with that came all the rest. My life went into something like the spin cycle of a washing machine, and when I came out, I didn’t want any more cigarettes, and I damn sure didn’t want any more liquor. Now, if I’m having a problem, or a friend of mine is having a problem, or something is keeping me from sleeping, I’ll just lay there and not really pray so much as just meditate. I get real still and talk to the Man, and he’ll help you if you ask… God is there all the time, and so is my guardian angel, or whatever it is that keeps me from self-destructing or keeps me out of harm’s way…

At one point I was going to convert to Catholicism, but they had so many rules. I have to say that the Catholic Church is very much about who has the nicest suit, the valet parking–too much about the money. I don’t think you have to dress up or show God a bunch of gold for him to forgive you your sins, love you, and guide you. Then I went to an Episcopal church in Daytona, and it just felt right. The Episcopal Church isn’t about gimme, gimme, gimme. The Episcopalians are like enlightened Catholics. They have the faith, but they’re a little more open-minded.

Now I sit here in my house in Savannah, look out over the water at the oaks, and know that I have a reason to live.  After all I’ve been through, I can’t help but feel I’ve been redeemed, over and over. (pg 367-368)

I post this with no slight to my family and friends who are faithful and generous Roman Catholics. These are Gregg’s words not mine.  But how amazing would it be to play a little gospel guitar with Gregg at a Sunday Eucharist some day?  One can only dream . . .