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The unfolding tale of a hundred hymns

Wow! The power of setting your intentions... 

Last summer I created a folder in my computer, and I had to give it a name. After giving it a quick thought I wrote: "Hundred hymns", in an attempt to be a bit poetic in the small space and time given. 

There's a new hymnbook on its way in Sweden and a call has gone out for anyone who wants to contribute with proposals. I thought I ought to send in something before the deadline on New Years and the folder was created for this purpose. I started to browse thru a life's worth of song creation and did not find much suitable, managed to come up with about 30 songs that I thought could work, after editing them quite substantially. 

After that I fell ill in Covid. Little did I realise then how necessary this was for the developments that were to follow. For the first time in my life I had a personal and very tangible experience of life's brevity. And a reminder of the importance of taking every day as a precious gift. 

Nothing happened with the folder after that, earthly concerns taking up all of my time. By November I was about to embark on a journey that would take me first to a Song Safari in Nepal, then via South Africa and my son Ralph's wedding with Yasmine, to another song course on the beaches of Gambia. Something happened in Nepal that is hard to put words to. As my still covid-frail body cold not do the walks I had hoped for, through sharing of nature, culture and song with the group and the beautiful Nepalese people in this majestic setting my soul rose to Himalayan heights. And rising was also a feeling of being pregnant with something, not sure of what.

Sharing song and dance at our camp beneath the Himalayan rim.

After the course was over I checked in to a small hotel as I had a week for myself and decided to remain in the beautiful town of Bandipur. In front of me on my tiny hotel veranda I had a valley which I often overlooked from above the clouds, 

From my hotel-window in Bandipur...

and behind me I still had 6000 meters worth of holy mountains rising to indescribable peaks. 

...and the view the other side towards the mountains.

It was such a beautiful experience: I woke up every morning at around 3 o'clock and the music and the lyrics poured forth. Every morning the same; like putting out your empty vessels in the night and find them full the next morning. Absolutely no effort, only grace. I only needed to be there, the open heart being my vessel.

From  Katmandu, Nepal I went to South Africa and headed straight up to the Namibian border. 

On the road to Steinkopf.

This is desolate country, flat and dry and scorched, the absolute counterpoint to the Nepalese landscape. Yet there was no feeling of going from one extreme to another; more like from one home to another or rather; a feeling of same-same, of two perceptions of the same entity, two expressions of the same reality.  

As the well kept pouring forth, I kept up my collecting of songs in the nights and mornings. 

There's no need to look far to find life in the desert. It's everywhere. And wherever there is a little trickle of water surfacing from the underground, there is life in abundance, rich and immediate. 

I stayed with one of my oldest South African friends, William Bowles and his wonderful family. We've known each other for 45 years. In their embrace of hospitality, musicality and spirituality I felt much at home allowing me my wish for privacy and time for creating. 

After the desert: the sea! 
Fair Scarborough; Sun setting in the Atlantic.

I headed to Cape Town, this world in itself, that keeps on fascinating in its many shapes and appearances, as capricious as the sea itself. We had booked a house in Scarborough, a small place perching on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, quite far from the hustle and bustle of the Mother City. Although the days were full of intensity with wedding planning, socialising and meeting friends and family from far and wide, the nights and mornings were still there to let my buckets be filled and emptied over and over...

The Wedding! Ralph and Yasmine showered with petals of love.

Final stop Gambia; again I find myself amongst a generous people, this time located on the shores of a warm sea. And my buckets kept overflowing. 

Gambian sunset 

Gambian drumfest

By the time I came home from my trip, in mid January, the Hundred Hymns were all there in the folder, infused with metaphors of Mountain, Desert and Sea. Inspired by Nepalese dove-calls and pentatonic tunes, by South African Kwaya-music and bridal-mysticism, with Gambian rhythms and generosity of poor but dignified people of faith and joy. 

They were also created in a sense of life lived to the fullest because of an awareness of death's reality. Of living every day as if it was the last. And the first. The only.

It's all there in the songs; a travelog of tones, a rhapsody of reminiscence, a re-collection of consciousness. 

But more than anything this collection bears witness to the power of faith, the power of setting your intentions. You do that, and then you do nothing. That is the hard part, to do nothing. To let the grace of creation fill your buckets to the brim while you look on as it happens, bemused. 

Now to the fun – but also a bit scary – part. Sharing it. Trusting that the water of life will trickle on and find places where it can be of blessing. In a well close to you.

Hundred hymns in an attempt to be a bit poetic in the short time and space given us.  



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