Dear Friends, Fans & Family....A few weeks ago, on September 11, 2013 to be exact, it started storming and raining shockingly hard in the Colorado foothills west and north of Boulder, and didn’t stop until 10 to 14 inches had pounded isolated areas unmercifully along the Front Range, causing unimaginably powerful floods and widespread devastation. Roads and bridges were torn up and wiped out almost instantly….hundreds of homes, farms and businesses were completely destroyed. As of the first of October the floods had affected 17 counties, and the property loss is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars. At this point 8 are confirmed dead and one resident is still missing. Many mountain towns have either been obliterated entirely, or are now cut off from civilization.
Since I grew up in Loveland, went to school in Boulder, and spent much of my childhood rambling around in the Big Thompson canyon, I have been particularly heartsick and horrified at the loss of my old home turf, and deeply saddened that so many friends and family members’ lives and property have been devastated as well.
But, as often happens in the midst of such calamities, calls and money started pouring in almost immediately to the Red Cross and other local charities, people asking how they could help flood victims to alleviate the suffering and losses. Friends and neighbors continue to show up as part of the clean-up and re-building that will go on for months and years. (If you are moved to contribute you can click here: )
There are inner and outer landscapes. All of us will almost certainly be blindsided, from time to time, by catastrophes we didn’t see coming. But angels walk among us. Help is always available, sometimes coming in ways we would never have imagined. And we come to realize that we don’t have to do this....whatever “this” is….alone. We are all connected. And the human heart knows no boundaries.
Those of us with Pioneer Blood, or the tough DNA of proud independent protestant work-ethic ancestors, may find it hard to ask for help. We don’t want to bother anyone (including God) with our requests, but, being the good Joes that we are, we don’t think twice about jumping in to help someone else out of a jam. It’s this generosity of heart & soul, the give-and-take of love and common decency moving back and forth, that weaves the human tapestry, and holds us all together individually and collectively.
Here’s how it works for me: Once I break down and actually put my request out there, subtle miracles seem to show up almost instantly. It’s as if all the angels (who were just hanging around bored, doing their nails, waiting for an invitation) finally got permission to jump in and officially join the rescue team. All the molecules and atoms and quantum particles line up. I feel an initial fresh breeze of relief, and then quite subtly, (or, dramatically) things start to shift, inside and out.
JD and I have just finished re-mixing and mastering our last album, “Inside the Songwriters’ Studio,” which means we have been listening to every teeny detail through a gigantic microscopic lens. I am still moved to tears by the lyrics in the bridge of “Love Wins.” “When we’re up against too much to ask, and we lose our resistance at last, and we realize love’s got our back, LOVE WINS. For everyone great and small, we are lifted as we fall. Kindness conquers all, LOVE WINS.”
Even Anne Frank, in the midst of her ordeal, was able to write in her diary, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart….How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Anne Lamott, in her beautiful book “Help, Thanks, Wow” has this to say:
“I have seen miracles, although they always take too long to make themselves known, if you ask me. Also I’ve seen grace manifest as spiritual WD-40, as water wings, as ribbons of fresh air in tight, scary rooms. And I’ve witnessed the intervention of goofy angels, the poor short-straw angels who seem to draw me.
I have seen many people survive unsurvivable losses, and seen them experience happiness again. How is this possible?
If I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.
When we think we can do it all ourselves….fix, save, buy, or date a nice solution…it’s hopeless. We’re going to screw things up. We’re going to get our tentacles wrapped around things and squirt our squiddy ink all over, so that there is even less visibility, and then we’re going to squeeze the very life out of everything.”
She has a point. Most of us mean well, but we can’t save the world and ourselves simply by acting out of our conditioning, or the left side of our brains. There is something so much wiser keeping everything alive. I find it enormously liberating to remember in my bones that there are benevolent forces always conspiring for my good, for the good of us all….and to know that on this beautiful light/dark planet we’re all in this together.
Ben Dowling and I wrote this song, “And Together,” a year before 9-11. We hope it will lift you up today.
Love from Jan & JD
• October 20
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