The Mouth Knows

Are we spiritual people?  I don’t even know what that means.  Perhaps you do.  It might point to communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It might be to walk in the steps of the Dalai Lama.  To be in prayer as you kneel by the bed and as you walk down Main Street.  To be loving and compassionate.  To have equanimity in your heart, undisturbed by the events of the day.  To lead a solitary life, cloistered away from the teeming masses and the volatile emotions.  Or to hug every person you meet.

I have a theory that there’s one experience essential for the open heart, the open hands, the Spirit.  I won’t share my opinion just now.  I trust you’ll feel it at the end of the story which follows.

A couple from snowy Minnesota decided to take a winter vacation back in the simple Florida resort where they had stayed for a honeymoon twenty-five years before.  Because of his wife’s delayed work schedule, the husband went first, and then when he got there he received a message that she would meet him soon.  So he sent her this e-mail in reply.  But because he typed one letter wrong in the e-mail address, it went by mistake to an old woman in Oklahoma, whose minister husband had died the day before.  Here is what she read:


Well the journey is over and I have finally arrived.  I was surprised to find they have e-mail here now.  They tell me you’ll be coming soon.  It will be good to be together again.  

Love as always.

P.S.  Be prepared.  It’s quite hot down here.”

Locating It Here … Searching For It There

There are sacred places everywhere
The world is still our holy grove where we wander
hunting for the tree of life …
under which we already live

(An unknown poet)

Take this very moment of reading.  It’s you and the couch or chair, in a room you love or one you don’t know, alone or with a beloved.  It’s now … and it’s so easily lost.  There’ll be future moments of reading, perhaps some novel that will inspire … someday.  But that day is not here.

Someone talked to one of the world’s most respected violinists (Joshua Bell) and stuck him down in the subway with a $3,500,000 Stradivarius.  He opened the case so people would put coins in it.  And he played some amazing Bach pieces on his Stradivarius.  Nobody stopped to listen except kids.  Little kids would stop.  Everybody else was on their way.  (Jack Kornfield)

How come we don’t stop?  Places to go, people to meet.  It’s important, you know, to get there … and as quickly as possible.  What has happened to the wide-eyed wonder of gazing upon the moment?  Someone stole it away.

It’s good to use the best china
The oldest lace tablecloth
The most genuine goblets

Of course there’s a risk
Every time we use anything or share an intimate moment
A fragile cup of revelation

But not to touch
Not to handle the artifacts of being human
Is the quiet crash, the deadly catastrophe
Where nothing is enjoyed or broken
Or spilled or spoken
Or stained or mended
Where nothing is ever lived, loved
Laughed over, wept over
Where nothing is ever lost
Or found

(Thomas Carlyle)

Let’s feel the little ridges of the lace and behold the pattern within
We have the time to do that


I’ve been sending out e-mails about the Evolutionary Collective to many people I know. The EC has made a huge contribution to my life. I invite folks to check out our Facebook page to see if the words there resonate. I’m not pressing anybody to do anything.

I feel naked. “Here I am, world!” You’re welcome to take me or leave me but lurking in the shadows isn’t much fun. In the light of day, I show myself. Some of you won’t like that. Some may turn away. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I’m okay with that. There’s something to stand for … even if no one else comes closer.

I feel my old tendency to shrink, to fade away into the wallpaper, to lower my head. I honour that version of Bruce. I did what my self-esteem asked of me. Now something else is being asked. I’m being nudged towards the large. Say what’s true. Smile a lot. Actually, laugh a lot. See if there are other people in my realm who want to deepen their connection with others. I know there are. I’m on a journey to find them.

As I lift my head to your gaze, a quote from Marianne Williamson comes calling. Marianne knows how to stand tall:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us. It’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.


Who Do You See?

One package is wrinkled and troubled and old. The second is smooth and beckoning and young. But we don’t know what the packages contain. We don’t know the secret life of the inside.

I believe we need another type of vision. Can we detect the hopes and fears, sorrows and loves, that lie beneath the skin? Can we gaze upon what is truly real?

We need to. And then we need to bring each one of us into the circle of our care.


A family went to the restaurant. A little seven-year-old kid and his parents. The waitress goes around the table and takes their orders. She looks at the boy and says “So what is it you’d like to eat?”

“I’d like a hot dog and root beer, please.”

And his mother says “He’ll have meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots and a glass of milk.”

The waitress goes around, taking the other orders, and as she’s leaving the table she says “Would you like ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?”

The little boy looks up as she walks away and says “You know … she thinks I’m real.”


I was watching a TV show today where a boyfriend and girlfriend were heading off to work.  She was gathering her possessions for the commute, at a speed that wasn’t to his liking: “Hey, slowpoke!  Let’s go.”  They weren’t late.  He just wanted to go faster.

I paused and “Hmm”ed.  Do we really need to be in such a hurry?  What’s true is thatdon’t want to be in such a hurry.  Communing with my friend Google, I discovered descriptions of the word … all of which have a negative connotation:

An unnecessarily slow person
Lagging behind, slowing everyone down
Doing something too slowly
Slow as molasses
At a snail’s pace
At a tortoise-like pace
Laggard, dawdler, dallier, slug

Me, I like verbs that take their time, such as “linger”.  The word seems to stretch out time, which feels like a fine idea.  Who needs a crumpled-up, squeezed-together anything?  How about some room to breathe?  I’m also partial to “meander”.  It’s all well and good that the shortest distance between A and B is a straight line but the freeway is far less fun than a winding country road.

I’ve gone to several meditation retreats at a Buddhist centre in Massachusetts.  Before my first trip, I found out that I could drive there from Southern Ontario in less than nine hours.  Sure, that’s a long day behind the wheel but look at the time I’d save!  Take one Canadian superhighway and then transfer to a humongous US one at Buffalo, New York.  Piece of cake.

I said no to such nonsense – two days will be ticketyboo for this fellow.  (I don’t know where the word came from.  Mom loved it.)  And so I got to experience the cutesy little towns of upstate New York, a sweet overnight in Utica, NY, and the green-to-the-top grandeur of the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts.  Happy is the man who goes slow.

There were so many hills in eastern New York that the 90 mph speed limit was a fantasy.  I didn’t care.  Hardly any driver did.  We moseyed along, which is a another fine verb for your perusal.

I’m a slowpoke.  It rolls off the tongue really well.

Speed Bumps

There are three of them … big fellows.  They sit on a road near my local Walmart.  I have to slow down to just about nothing or else I’ll bounce my dear Ruby to the sky.  My body feels the static, the disruption of flow, just how unnatural it is.  I want to feel the smoothest dance steps with my partner rather than an ordeal of stepping on each other’s feet.

Long ago, I was assisting a personal development teacher in her residential course.  On day we were out for a hike – lovely woodlands and fields.  We came to the top of the hill and the teacher asked me to go ahead, down to the base, and welcome the folks when they arrived.  The downhill was loose bits of rock, known as scree – slippery stuff.  As people came down, I lifted my arms to slow their descent, touching a few of them as I broke their momentum.  “Safety first,” I thought.  I thought wrong.  Momentum is a beautiful thing.  The body loves it.  The body does not like some external force slowing it down.  It’s unnatural.

In another year, my dear wife Jody and I were in Mexico.  One afternoon we explored the village of Playa del Carmen on the Mayan Riviera.  On one street, there was a series of small shops nudged against each other.  Jody went into one, and I entered its neighbour.  A good vacation is full of flow, and I was feeling it.  The Mexicans laughed a lot, and I laughed with them.  I felt free – nothing holding me back.  And so … I sang opera in that little stall full of tourists and locals.  I sang opera loud.  Some folks smiled, others just stared.  I didn’t mind.  Verdi was there for the expressing.  Jody came rushing in.  Next door she had realized “That’s my husband!”  Gaping at my grand gestures and somewhat grand voice, she shook her head and grinned.

The bottom line:  I much prefer entertaining folks to bracing them against gravity.  It’s far more fun.

So what will I do tomorrow?

May I …

I figure if it’s good enough for the Dalai Lama, it’s good enough for me.  Word has it that he wakes up every morning with seven sentences on his lips.  And they all begin with “May I …”  As in there are forces here with us that are too big to see, too stunning for human beings to absorb.  May those forces align in such a way that I can contribute to the ones who need contribution.  For why else be on our dear planet?  I could become rich, famous, handsome, athletic and immensely intelligent.  So what?  All else pales before the ability and willingness to love … without hesitation, without evaluating the wisdom of such an action, without any diluting.

I’m going to print out the Dalai Lama’s words.  I commit to joining him.  I commit to the memorizing and the saying every morning for the rest of my life.  You have my word.

May I be a raft for people to cross the flood
May I be medicine for the sick
May I be food for the hungry
May I be a resting place for the weary
May I be a lamp in the darkness of ignorance
May I be an inspiration for those who have lost hope
May I do this as long as Earth and sky and suns and galaxies exist

The Cello

In my work with the Evolutionary Collective, I use the timer on my phone a lot.  When we’re done a practice, here comes the sweet melody of a cello, soaring in the air.  Samsung says it’s called “Schumann Fantasy”.  It brings me back.

I played cello from Grade 6 till Grade 13.  How I was picked at age 11 for semi-private, after school lessons was beyond me.  Our teacher was Mr. Sturm.  He played cello in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra!  I felt so important.  Each Friday after school, four of us were passengers in Mr. Sturm’s car as we headed downtown to some rehearsal space.  I remember gawking out the back window, making faces at the driver behind.

Over the years, I came to love my instrument (which really wasn’t mine).  I loved the whole idea of “orchestra”, which I discovered in Grade 9 on entering high school.  At Lawrence Park Collegiate, there were about 80 of us string, brass and woodwind players recreating symphonies from Mozart and Dvorak.  I had tried out for the football team, and flopped.  Playing in the orchestra gave me the family feeling I wanted.  I was often in awe as I gazed at all those musicians giving their all during a piece, while I diligently played my part.

In Grade 11, I was selected to be a member of Toronto’s All-City Orchestra, composed of the best players from local high schools.  I still remember our concert on Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto’s shining New City Hall.  I was near the front of the cellos and watched the wavering path of Sir Ernest MacMillan as he walked to the podium.  At age 72, he led us in a rendition of “Land of Hope and Glory”, a stirring melody accompanied by rich harmonies.  He died eight years later.

Summer, 1967.  In the fall, I would be heading to the University of Toronto.  There was the question of whether to audition for U of T’s orchestra.  My response to this possibility still saddens me:

I’m not good enough

Just like that, my cello life ended.

Over the decades, I’ve thought of resurrecting my playing.  The cello has deep, rich tones.  In the hands of a virtuoso, such as Yo Yo Ma, it sings.  Just listen to him play The Swan.  I, Bruce Kerr, could make beautiful music again.  Nowhere near professional, but nearby London has a community orchestra which no doubt will return after Covid is done.

I feel the spark.  I feel my youth.  I feel the camaraderie of the Lawrence Park Orchestra.  Still, I think the answer is “no”.  I am plowing new fields.  I’m hearing the melodies of the human spirit, and playing in that collective.  What was important to that teenaged musician was to express beauty with my fingers and bow.  What’s important to this gently aging fellow is to do the same with my eyes and heart.

Play on …


Walking With The Message

There’s a hallway downstairs leading to the spare bedroom. I don’t spend much time there … and I miss things.

Four years ago my friend Jane, who’s an interior designer, helped me “stage” my home in Union, Ontario for sale. Then she came up with cool ideas for my new home in Belmont. One day she walked in with the mounted poster you see here.

It’s time to pause and look, to really see the details of my life. If I don’t stop in the hall – usually a brisk walk between A and B – I lose. The “getting to” dwarfs the “being with”.

So lookie, lookie! What do we have here? I’ve always loved the power of a single word to inspire. How about nouns, for instance?


Nouns are certainly cool, if a mite static. We need to colour our nouny friends with broad brushstrokes to bring them alive. Consider the adjective:


Don’t they just make you want to sing? But life doesn’t stop there. Actually life is a continual going … a flow:

Make It Happen

And the next time I’m flowing down the hall, I’ll linger to drink in the words of another … which, if I’m patient, can become my own.