Our class became a healing musical circle as Jessica Anderson and Tyler Brooks invited us into a space where we came together in song and silence. The class is titled, Trauma, Healing, and Empowerment and we actively explore this area of our lives in the context of major political realities by engaging in personal and community healing. We were reminded that this was truly Ichi-go, Ichi-e, a Japanese expression of the once in lifetime moment that will never happen again. It was a moment of heartfulness in which we became mindful and could feel their compassion for us. Their willingness to go to painful places comes from a consciousness of responsibility. Composed of two words—response and ability—it can describe their belief that having done the hard work of healing they now have the ability to respond to the need for healing in others.
The musicians told us how glad they were that we were there to share that time and place with them; that it was precious that we were there. Their music was from the heart, starting with a cover of the classic, A Change Gonna Come, and ending with us singing along to the chorus, “We aint gonna stop till people are free.” In between we were taken to places of soulful reflections on trauma and healing in After War, songs of home, songs of crossing borders. The music told us that it was okay to go to the darkest places, that we would emerge whole. Like the Japanese art form of kintsugi, in which broken objects are reconnected with gold, we can be “more beautiful” with our wounds, our scars.
In Rumi’s words: The wound is the place where the light enters.
One student wrote: “We felt this deeply as we were transported to a place of vulnerability and courage. The artists weaved a magical spell in which we were united with their healing journey as expressed in their music. We were enveloped in a healing circle of song. I particularly enjoyed the closing song where Jessica had us sing along with her. This song really solidified that same idea of unity. We were united in a voice and in a cause. There was a feeling that stirred inside of me as I sang with the rest of the class. The feeling that we were creating something so magical and beautiful and irreplaceable. That moment could never be repeated in that exact same way, but it was a moment perfect on its own. I had chills on my arms because it truly felt like we were all together. Present. In that moment.”
Jessica and Tyler reminded us of how living is about connecting, with all of ourselves, and with others. The ties we make help us to cross the borders of consciousness that delude us into thinking that we are separate and alone. At least in that moment we can sense our connectedness and revel in the wonder and mystery.