You can travel all over the world but sometimes the sweetest vibes are right in your own backyard. The Monday Night Kirtan crew in my home ‘hood celebrated Earth Day chanting for Mother Gaia amid the circle of stones that is Burlington’s Earth Clock. With Lake Champlain shimmering beside us. On a cloudless blue-sky day. With the sun setting over the Adirondacks across the lake. Does it get any more blessed than this?
The red sun sank into the distant mountains while we chanted, its last wink precisely timed to the moment our long Jai Ma chant wound down from a soft whisper to silence. It could not have been choreographed more perfectly if it were a movie. I can’t make this stuff up, I swear.
I had brought along a dilapitated old globe that had been rescued from certain demise in a landfill, repaired, then left to gather dust on a high shelf in my apartment. Freshly dusted, she was placed in the center of our altar-in-the-round along with the candles and prasad and other offerings. Our own little “unknown bhakti band,” Yogi P & the Funky Shanti (aka Patrick McAndrew and Heidi Champney) held the space, but we all sang as one circle. Anyone who was so moved led a chant and everyone was in the band.
People were walking their dogs and riding their bikes along the Burlington Bikeway, which wound right around Earth Clock’s temple of mega stones. Some would stop in curiosity, observing our circle from a safe distance; others would jump right in, chanting and clapping along for a song or two, then meandering on their way. Toward the end Jeanette Bacevius taught us “Ise Oluwa,” the African prayer song that was chanted by millions of people around the globe on 12.21.12 in the One Earth One Voice movement and has become somewhat of an anthem for global healing.
When it got chilly (this being Vermont in April), Yogi P got us up on our feet to get funky with the shanti (and warm up). We danced and twirled around the circle inside the stones, swinging one another as we went, Mother Gaia in the center and all around.
Afterward, when the prasad was all gone and the socializing winding down, a small knot of stragglers huddled in a tight circle, and someone lowered the old globe into the center of us. Spontaneous unscripted prayers for Ma Earth’s health and healing came pouring forth, one after another, showering her with love and blessings….gathering the energy of our kirtan and concentrating it on Gaia. Then, one final Om Shanti Shanti Shanti for the Mother.
I tucked the globe — now verily glowing — back into my bag and made my way home, smiling and humming for the sweetness and authenticity of this last-minute gathering. But it didn’t feel right to just put her back in her corner of the shelf high above, out of sight, out of mind, gathering dust. She had just been the focus of so much love, the receiver of so many prayers, the center of attention — didn’t she deserve better than to be forgotten again? So I put her in the center of the table, held up by a lotus-shaped candle holder.
And I thought, what would happen if we all gave this much attention and love to Mother Earth every day — not just Earth Day?
Yogi P & the Funky Shanti are releasing their debut CD, Ganesha Kirtan, at a special Cosmic Love Kirtan Afterparty following the Burlington Yoga Conference on May 4 at Laughing River Yoga in Winooski. They will also be joining the party April 27 in NYC at the Brooklyn Yoga & Kirtanpalooza. Follow their facebook page to stay up to date.
Also see Earth Day Kirtan Photo Journal on The Bhakti Beat’s facebook page