Three unrelated questions

I get the urge to travel a lot. This morning I was thinking about travel, and I asked myself where I would go if I had a week to kill and enough money to go anywhere in the continental US. Surprisingly, I drew a blank. So question one is:

If you could go anywhere in the US for a week, where would you go? What would you do?

Second topic. When I was a Christian and I got a hankering for a musically-assisted ecstatic experience, I knew what to do. Just look up the nearest charismatic or pentacostal-style church (or messianic synagogue, which tend to be strongly influenced by the charismatic movement). Now that my spirituality is more… ambiguous, I’m at a loss. Certain bands have a spiritual element in their music, but the purpose of a rock&roll show is primarily to entertain, not to edify. And how often does U2 come to town, anyway? So question two is:

Who else besides the Christians is making modern music for the explicit purpose of facilitating a spiritual experience? I know Krishna Das does something like this. Anyone else?

And finally,

When you have the desire to get your hands dirty doing something for your fellow man (woman, child, llama…), where do you go and what do you do?

View All


  1. 2 answers..

    1. US travel… What kind of vacation do you want? Lots of activity or little? Cultural or natural entertainments??? Using these two axes.. here is where I would go
    a)relaxing/cultural–Austin, Tx–mainly because I’ve heard it’s a cool place and I’ve never been there..
    b)relaxing/natural–I’d actually try to leave the country and go someplace warm with sandy beaches–like the Bahamas or something similar… Someplace that I definitely want to return to–but would prolly be expensive from here–is Lanzarote–which is one of the Canary Islands… it is mostly a desert island, but it has beautiful beaches and an awesome lava encrusted area (from an eruption in the 1700’s.>) that hits the ocean and produces awesome reef-like conditions with tons of sea creatures and what not… Similar to this might be something like Pismo Beach north of LA (like 90 miles) where there are tidal pools…
    c)Active/cultural–New York or Chicago. I haven’t seen all of NY yet, so visiting it again would be cool… I do, however, prefer Chicago (my home town) overall and I haven’t gotten to reinvestigate all it has to offer in over a decade…
    d)Active/natural–Utah. It is just a beautiful state in terms of landscapes and ARches and Bryce Canyon are way way cool…

    2. No idea–This Morn Omina has awesome tribally-dance music (Seven Year Famine, Le Serpent Blanc/Rouge, Drake Equation, Les Passages Jumeaux) are all excellent albums… they always put me into good headspace–they do not have any vocals too them.. but I prefer that when trying to approach ecstatic experiences..

    3. I clean the house and do the laundry. 🙂

    1. Re: 2 answers..

      I’ve been hearing a lot about the beauty of Utah. It was one of the places that floated vaguely through my head when I was thinking about this earlier. I just don’t know a lot about it.

      Chicago is a cool city. I had a ball when I stayed there for a few weeks.

      One of the things I’m realizing is that I really need to make more geographically distributed friends. What made the Chicago trip so great was that I was staying with a friend who made a point of showing me as much of the town as possible. Given the choice I’d much rather visit friends in some far-off state, even if it’s off the beaten path, than just plan the typical vacation to some scenic destination.

  2. For me it’s 2 words


    1. Re: For me it’s 2 words

      That’s usually my answer too. I love drum circles.

      But I started wondering this morning… drum circles aren’t the only communal sacred music pagany types have, are they? Are they?! There’s got to be more.

      Plus I have fond memories of playing the guitar in worship bands back in my church days. That doesn’t really work with most drum circles.

      1. Sacred music

        One of the local UU “churches” in Madison holds a “Full moon cantina” each month where people bring in guitars, tamborines, song books and rattles/whatnot and they sing all night. It’s fun. Something like this is what you are looking for?

        1. Re: Sacred music

          Sounds pretty cool. The last time I went to a UU Church they were singing hymns as dirgelike as those at a catholic church, and I guess I kind of wrote them off musically. I wonder if it’s just a Madison thing?

  3. 1) Of hand I can’t think of any specific places but there are times that I definately think I like to see parts of the U.S. I know this sounds lame but kind of like the Grand Canyon or other state parks and famous monuments throughout the U.S. It is something I would have to research more to give you more “specific” places and things to see.

    2) Probably drum circles or the like. My guy friend might know of something else so I could probably ask him.

    3) As far as getting the hands “dirty”. Volunteering. If you are into building things Habitate for Humanity really provides a good services and that is hard, dirty work. Also working with the local animal shelter/organizations. I believe the United Way has this new service/project to help ppl looking to help their fellow man find the right volunteer situation for them. Should give them a try.

    Hoped that helped!

    1. Your comment prompted me to check out the United Way website. Turns out they have a way to search for opportunities by zip code. Very cool, thanks!

  4. For a week, probably Grand Canyon or Jerusalem (as it takes longer than a week to get to Mars)… *lol* In truth, i’d probably hold out on the Grand Canyon as I want to get in better shape.

    I wouldn’t mind going to Scotland with perhaps a day in London.

    There are places like Australia/New Zealand that I would love to visit, but I think I need more than a week to visit those places.

    Who else besides the Christians is making modern music for the explicit purpose of facilitating a spiritual experience? I know Krishna Das does something like this. Anyone else?

    The Jews…”Matisyahu”

    “When you have the desire to get your hands dirty doing something for your fellow man (woman, child, llama…), where do you go and what do you do?”

    The Salvation Army is a good place. If you don’t mind a somewhat religiously influenced organization. I’ve done inner city work, soup kitchens, clothing closets, and I have a number of friends who were at Ground Zero on 9-11 with The Salvation Army lending assistance and supporting the rescue workers.

    1. Yeah, I can think of lots of places to go outside the US. It’s within the US that I blank out.

      Matisyahu… good point. I need to get to a Matisyahu show.

      I have a personal beef with the Salvation Army, but maybe it’s time I got over it and gave them a second look.

      1. “Yeah, I can think of lots of places to go outside the US. It’s within the US that I blank out.”

        If I hadn’t just gone to San Diego, than I’d say San Diego. I even plan on going again in a couple of years.

        New Hampshire and Maine are both nice. I would also like to go to the Florida Keys and Everglades. (The rest of Florida sucks)*LOL*

        I definitely want to see the canyons of North America though. (Grand Canyon, Bryce, Painted desert, etc).

        Quebec is also nice as it’s like stepping over to another continent.

        “Matisyahu… good point. I need to get to a Matisyahu show.”

        Yeah, I need to check out the boards. Been a while…

        “I have a personal beef with the Salvation Army, but maybe it’s time I got over it and gave them a second look.”

        What was your beef? just curious?

        A lot of times, I find people have a beef with The Salvation Army, but often it’s one they would not have if they were thinking of it as merely a church (which is what it really is). It just happens to be a church that focused heartily on the admonition to minister to the poor and the needy.

        Also, a lot of people are confused. They don’t understand why The Salvation Army will turn down their dirty stained couch. Or why their thrift store isn’t uber-cheap and has mediocre prices. In fact, there are enough worn beat up stained couches for just about every need family in America. But few, even the needy, want such. And with what they do take, they can sell for a modest price in the thrift store which earns them $$$ for the various programs they run.

        That said, there are good corps and bad corps. I’ve seen both. I’ve seen a lot of good. I’ve seen stupidiy. Though, I’ve seen more good than not. Even on 9-11 I think they handled themselves much better than the American Red Cross which tried to use the donations to pay off their new phone system and other debts. The Salvation Army, stepped up and used the donations to pay rent and utility bills for those who lost family members.

        – Saj

        1. My beef with the SA goes back to when I was volunteering to help run a “coffeehouse” that the local SA church was hosting. It wasn’t an SA-run event, but it supposedly had their support (they provided the facilty, after all). Anyway, long story short, the church was very passive-aggressive. They apparently decided after awhile that they didn’t like the coffeehouse anymore, but instead of just coming out and saying so, they were uncommunicative and did stuff like randomly changing locks and stealing the coffeehouse supplies.

          It left a bad taste in my mouth.

  5. I know you pretty much live there, but I could spend more than a week at the museums in DC. Or I’d go to Seattle.

    I don’t have a good music suggestion, but techno music, as much as I dislike it, I believe is meant to transport you to a spiritual plane. The times I have just sat and listened to it have been spiritual for me.

    Honestly, just walking out my door and taking the dog for a walk and then actually talking to the neighbors opens up many unique oportunities to listen, be a friend, and help people (and animals). I did have a friend who spent a week rounding up animals displaced from the hurricane, I thought that was a great way to spend a spring break.

    I’m glad you are back and blogging! Sorry I just got up so my brain isn’t fully functional yet.

    1. What’s in Seattle?

      1. I’m sorry I wrote a reply and apparently its MIA. Besides old friends and misc. places I remember from living there as a child, I loved the beautiful redwood trees, snow peaked mountains and lush forests. The Puget Sound is beautiful at night and watching the salmon jump the locks is pretty spectacular and even the aquarium and fishermans wharf is fun. Its a short trip to Vancouver, B.C. or down to Seaside, Oregon, which were our favorite vacation spots. I can’t wait to revisit someday as an adult. Other places I can’t wait to visit are New Orleans, Boston/Salem, New York, and then back to San Francisco. I’m spoiled that I get to go to San Diego and LA all the time. But the Seattle area is my favorite. Actually Renton,Kent and Enumclaw (a small town at the base of Mount Rainier), where I grew up, are the prettiest places I’ve ever seen.

  6. If you could go anywhere in the US for a week, where would you go? What would you do?

    People often underestimate the allure of New England as a vacation spot. The little towns are full of independent coffee shops, open mic nights, and pretentious intellectual soapbox discussion until the wee hours of the morning. I personally have a thing for Portsmouth – there is a diner there called “The Friendly Toast” that I adore. Boston, of course, is a good time.

    I also like the crisp cold air. I am not a warm southerner. I am happiest when I need to wear polar fleece and a hat. YMMV.

    That said, I had an absolute blast in LA, but that’s probably because I know so many cool people there. If you want a happenin’ town with lots of cultural events and off the beaten track artistic types, LA is the town for you.

    Who else besides the Christians is making modern music for the explicit purpose of facilitating a spiritual experience? I know Krishna Das does something like this. Anyone else?

    I’m the wrong person to answer this question. How do you feel about Native American celebrations? There are often a few each year in Virginia and the Carolinas. Not sure if there is any such thing in PA.

    When you have the desire to get your hands dirty doing something for your fellow man (woman, child, llama…), where do you go and what do you do?

    I go to Annapolis, and annoy my representatives. Or I write them letters. Or I organize a bunch of other people to go visit or write letters.

    If you want to get your hands directly dirty, you can visit prisons and read to prisoners with the books to prisons program.

    You can volunteer your time at a woman’s shelter, or a suicide hotline.

    You can volunteer at a nursing home or retirement community – seniors are lonely, and often interesting, and usually good chess/checkers partners. They love kids, so you may be able to get Stacey on board to take the kids too as a homeschool project.

    You can volunteer as a big brother for a child in your community. ( I did some mentoring in high school, so I had an application in to be a big sister before I got pregnant. I may go back to it after the next baby.

    Though I’ve never done it, I have some friends who worked on habitat for humanity and had a great time.

    I could keep going. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in my time, and coordinated a lot of stuff I’ve never actually participated in. If you want to volunteer in the baltimore area, I can hook you up with a few organizations.

    1. Lots of food for thought there. Thanks!

  7. Greenville SC./ Asheville NC. Absolutly beautiful for the nature lover. When we went there my dad and I went to one park where we picked wild blue berries, saw bright yellow mold, walked half a mile that went down a 100 feet with water slides all the way (too small for people but neat to look at) and extensive magnolia groves. We all went to another park where there were 11? Waterfalls, most within a short hike and there was a water slide big enough for people, complete with 2 lifeguards and a worn headboard for pulling people out. It was very, very cold.

    2. Dunno, I’m not really the ecstatic spiritual experience type.

    There are a lot of opportunities around here. Habitat for Humanity, Amenesty international, Golden friendship house or whateer they call themselves (the group that help all the INS detainees in the prison). Homeless shelters. I suggest focusing first on in what way you want to help you fellow man. I read this quote once and I thought it was very good advice from someone who was a famous worker for some cause who was asked to speak for another cause and they basically said they wouldn’t because you need to focus on your own cause to get something accomplished. To me that makes a lot of sense, you can get wrapped up in all of the many causes, but you really need to pick the one that’s most important to you.

    1. you can get wrapped up in all of the many causes, but you really need to pick the one that’s most important to you

      That’s very good advice.

  8. Oh and go to and look for the daily bulletin, it usually has a whole paragraph filled with calls for volunteers.

  9. 1) Personally, I’d go to New Orleans. I *loved* it there and barely got a taste. I’d go back for fried chicken and fried pickles at Fiorello’s, look for live music, try to find that tiny pirate-themed place that serves absinthe, do the many things I didn’t have time to do last time. Also, tourist money helps their economy right now as it struggles back from Katrina.

    I’d also go back to San Francisco– not only is the city fun, but there’s wine country just outside, and you could visit Isis Oasis. It’s an awesome place.

    I hear Austin is a fantastic city to visit especially if you like good food and independent music.

    And of course there’s New York City, though I never think of that when I think of “visiting” somewhere. =)

    Virginia Beach is a surprisingly good place to go just to chill out if you want something more peaceful; there’s the aquarium, the Edgar Cayce Museum, whale watching boat tours, and lots of quirky shops and restaurants like The Jewish Mother to visit. New Hope, PA is also a browsy, calming sort of place.

    2) If you get a chance to see KIVA, Amikaeyla, or Telesma, they are all doing various kinds of modern stuff with a deeply spiritual bent and they are amazing performers (KIVA structures their concerts as rituals). Also check out Suzanne Sterling, Felicia Rose, World Entertainment War, Jaya Lakshmi, Donna De Lory, Deva Premal, Pisces Projekt, or Kathleen Hannan on CD. I think you would particularly like Suzanne Sterling and Felicia Rose for their Sufi sort of approach to the Divine as Beloved…and somehow I think you’d just like Pisces Projekt. They’re very different.

    3) I’m not sure I can top the suggestions made here. Although besides the traditional routes, I’m deeply fond of a sort of spontaneous quirky reaching out to people around you on a daily basis, whether it’s making an effort to strike up conversations with strangers and say something complimentary to them or just really listen to them, or leaving odd little gifts for people to find (the BookCrossing concept). Rob Breszny has done Reverse Panhandling– he stands out on a street corner with a sign that says “I Need To Give. Please Take Some Money” and gives out dollars to people. It’s not as serious and earthy as other volunteer opportunities, but there’s something to be said for bringing a little strange beauty and unexpected happiness into the life of a stranger.

    1. Thanks! You’ve given me a lot to look into.

  10. Re: Answers to life’s little questions

    What homeless shelter do you recommend?

Comments are closed.