Monday, June 23, 2008

June 23, 2008

As of this date…June 23, 2008…Spirit First is now incorporated as an inter-faith nonprofit organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I am so happy…I am overjoyed. Our State Corporation Commission certificate is matted, framed, and hanging on the wall, and Spirit First has gone from being a vision in my heart to having an existence in the physical world. My work now is to help it grow.

I feel less like I am giving birth to my own creation and more like I am supporting something that already “is.” Spirit First has its own life; I am simply helping it come into being. I have been given stewardship.

All the same, this is a day of wonderful celebration. And I am very happy…

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

board of directors

art by permission

I am pleased...and announce the founding board of directors for Spirit First. Each member of this board is a gift to my life and a gift to the organization I seek to create. Each one is become a gracious part in the birthing of a place of peace and healing, a sanctuary called Spirit First. I am grateful for so beautiful a gift as these whom I call friends:

Carol Thornton

Carol Thornton has a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. She received clinical training at Valley Community Clinic in Southern California and led substance abuse recovery programs for four years. She has been a student of metaphysics and various spiritual disciplines for 20 years and is a mindfulness practitioner in the tradition of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and Buddhist nun Pema Chodron.

Steve Caplan

Steve Caplan is a freelance writer in the Washington, D.C., area. The former publisher of Natural Awakenings Magazine, Mr. Caplan has a background that includes many years in media advertising sales. His spiritual beliefs have been informed by a cultural awareness of Judaism and a personal interest in Eastern thought and religion, which began for him as a teenager in the 1960s. His private practices include Buddhist studies, meditation, and sojourns to sites of contemplation such as Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, New York. Mr. Caplan believes tolerance and respect for all people regardless of race, religion, spirituality, gender, sexuality, and age are vital to human harmony and peace.

Stefan Popescu

Stefan Popescu is IT Director at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. Prior to technological work, he served as advisor and speechwriter in the political world. Mr. Popescu has a Bachelor of Science in technological engineering and a Masters Degree in political science.

Mr. Popescu is a member of the Christian Orthodox Church. Within the Orthodox Church he is discovering a truth his grandfather gave him when he was a child, that “once you have tasted the richness of spiritual life, nothing else will satisfy.”

Ervin C. Owens

Ervin Owens is founder and chief executive of the Cabel Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping underserved youth achieve financial literacy. After pursuing a career offering financial advice to businesses and individuals, Mr. Owens began his current work with inner-city youth. By teaching fiscal awareness and financial strategies, he empowers students to invest in their futures, set higher goals for themselves, promote social change, and improve their communities. Ervin Owens is financial advisor for Spirit First.

Heather Woods

Heather Woods earned her Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from McDaniel College and her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a member of the D.C. Bar. Ms. Woods is legal advisor for Spirit First.

Thomas Maxwell

Tom Maxwell serves as a Eucharistic Minister for the Catholic Church; has been a Sufi Initiate engaged in contemplative practice for over 20 years; and has lived, studied, and practiced with Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Sufis, and Christians. He leads interfaith contemplative spiritual dance groups (Dances of Universal Peace) and contemplative prayer groups for Christians.

Since receiving his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Maryland in 1988, Mr. Maxwell has been engaged in interdisciplinary research focusing on facilitating understanding and wise stewardship of complex evolving earth systems. This program fosters transcendence of disciplinary and cultural boundaries, as well as an integration of scientific and spiritual modes of viewing, understanding, and valuing the world. His technical writings include publications on systems theories of evolution and collaborative modeling of complex ecological economic systems. His philosophical publications focus on interfacing science and spirituality to foster the emergence of an integral worldview that transcends the cultural and religious differences that breed conflict and division. Mr. Maxwell is currently working on his first book publication focusing on integral spirituality as a path to transcending the apparent doctrinal conflicts that divide the world’s great religions.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Macrina Wiederkehr

I love the treasure of Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, author and spiritual guide. The sweetness of her life enhances the taste of what I drink from my own cup. Her gift is far too much to be captured in a short posting, but she sums up some of the jewels of her experience in a single paragraph....

These Things I Have Learned:
  • All work (even menial tasks) can become a joy rather than a burden.

  • “Practice” is one of the most important words in the spiritual life.

  • It is harmful to my soul to judge others.

  • All moments of waiting can become moments of keeping vigil.

  • The book of the earth is as holy as the book of scripture.

  • I am happiest when I am able to surrender my own will.

  • If I am not happy with what I have, I probably won’t be happier with more.

  • Even if I don’t agree with someone I can learn much by listening to them.
"We live in a world of theophanies. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure."

~Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B
A Tree Full of Angels

Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, author and spiritual guide, is a Benedictine monastic of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She is well known for her books: Seasons of Your Heart, A Tree Full of Angels, The Song of the Seed, Gold in Your Memories, and Behold Your Life.

Dan Mack

With much appreciation and admiration, I would like to introduce to you another musician who will join our Spirit First celebration on July 19.

What do you get when you combine a folk musician, classical guitarist, rock’n’roller, and songwriter into one? Well, you just might get Dan Mack! Dan has been a performing musician since grade school, when he performed in talent shows. Now, 45 years and thousands of performances later, he enjoys playing music more than ever. In addition to his early training, Dan also studied at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music, graduating with a major in classical guitar and double minor in piano and voice.

Of his Conservatory training Dan notes, “I try not to let the rigors of the classical style get in the way of what I like to play or listen to. There is an amazing wealth of music of all styles, and I can’t limit myself to just one. I started playing clarinet in the elementary school band and then fell in love with the guitar when my sister gave me one in the 60’s. I started learning songs by Dylan and the Beatles and started playing in bands. Playing classical may be the most challenging for me personally, but there’s plenty of effort that goes into mastering a great bluegrass flatpicking solo or high-test electric guitar licks. The word ‘eclectic’ may be overused, but I think it truly does describe my style.”

Dan is also an accomplished songwriter, and has written dozens of songs. He says, “I wrote my first song at age 16, and have been writing ever since. Sometimes I’ll start writing a song and finish it in a few hours, and sometimes I get stuck and it will lie dormant for years. Then I’ll get inspired and finish it 20 years later.” His songs run the gamut from straight folk and rock songs to old-time ballads to jazzy pop tunes. “I never know what’s going to come out,” Dan says. “It’s always a surprise.”

After his Conservatory years Dan played with several rock bands, performed as a solo folk and classical artist, and taught guitar lessons. In addition to solo performances, Dan now performs with The Druthers, a folk-rock band in the DC area ( He also accompanies vocalist Sassy Wagner in duet performances. In addition to guitar and voice, Dan also plays mandolin, piano, harmonica, and ukulele.

If you are interested in booking Dan, you are welcome to email

Sunday, June 08, 2008

There are many fine things that you mean to do some day,
under what you think will be more favorable circumstances.
But the only time that is yours is the present.
~Grenville Kleiser
photography by permission

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Who is it that can make muddy water clear? No one. But left to stand, it will gradually clear of itself.

Tao Te Ching

photography by permission
marc goldring