Music Of John Clarke

Have you ever heard a melody that made you stop whatever you were doing at the time, and focus instead on the amazing sounds that were filling the air? Well, that happened to me not so long ago.

I was going about my work one day when a friend who plays the guitar and usually listens to Heavy Metal said to me, “Hey, I found a guitarist I think you will like.”

Now truthfully, when my friend made the comment I was convinced that what he had in mind for me to listen to was someone banging obnoxiously on some amped up Gibson SG. This assumption, which later proved grossly incorrect, prompted me to immediately erect a mental blockade of sorts; it was a reflexive move designed to guard against what I was sure was headed my way, namely, an all out assault on not only my auditory system, but on my musical sensibilities as well!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a genuine passion for music (really, I do!).

Indeed, I’m never without some way of listening to music whenever possible. And in my own repertoire you will find several styles. For example, friends who knew me in my younger days know that I dig on Rock. Others from my rural roots know I love Old Country. I’ve danced at a Reggae concert or two, and I often get out the old–but not dead–jazz pieces from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. One thing few people know about me is that my favorite instrument is actually the cello. (Yo-Yo Ma and Adam Hurst… now those two can really bring me to a calm with their work, no matter how crazy this world can make me!)

Anyway, why my friend thought I would like a Spanish guitarist, I’ll never know. What I do know, however, is that the remarkable song my friend treated my ears and soul to that day–Azul, by John Clarke–made me stop, sit and listen. And what I heard as I listened moved me in a new direction, stretched my soul.

As I sat and listened to the energetic yet fluid sounds of John Clark’s guitar solo, a single question cycled through my mind again and again: “How is it possible”, I thought to myself, “that one person playing one instrument can make all these wonderful sounds I’m hearing?”. Well, the answer, of course, lys not in words, sentences or paragraphs, but in the rhythmic musings and imaginings of a well-tuned, professional artist. Have a listen for yourself and you’ll hear just what I mean.

“He didn’t appear to be looking for the audience to give him attention, it was more like the opposite…”

“… it was as if he had a bag of gifts and he wanted to give something to everyone.”

When you watch Clarke perform his song Most Evolved, you see an artist having fun with his creation. To his credit, John’s performance is at once athletic and effortless. The song, the guitar, John’s fingers: they all just flow in Zen-like unison to an internal rhythm that seems to inhabit the very essence of who he is. To hear him play is truly a wonderful experience, but to actually see him perform … now that’s a whole new dimension entirely!

As luck would have it, our paths actually crossed a while back, albeit in a passive sort of way. When it happened I wasn’t sure who he was. I had stumbled upon John and his inspired music at a place called The Cannery in San Francisco (a very cool place made even cooler by John’s passionate playing). It turned out to be one of those serendipitous moments that I seem to be blessed with from time to time.

Anyway, recalling that moment brings me back to the simple chair in which I found John seated.

He wore simple jeans, shirt and street shoes, and had the look of a humble man. There was, to be sure, nothing flashy about John, and so my impression was that he was a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of guy.

When he performed, I saw a man in love with the music he plays. He didn’t appear to be looking for the audience to give him attention; it was more like the opposite. It was as if he had a bag of gifts and he wanted to give something to everyone. Those gifts were songs showing amazing talent.

Once in a while during the performance, I saw him with his head down while his fingers were doing the work, and he looked vulnerable; but then he’d look up and I’d see a smile from him. Oops, he had missed a string; but only he noticed it, so he smiled at his faults as we all do at one time or another.

John, to me, is a very human musician. In him I see a teacher for our children who aspire to play guitar. I also see an example of the soul working in unison with the physical body to create a language that as a listener, both soul and physical body can enjoy.

I use music when I write, it helps me focus. And at times it gives my characters attitude. John’s music is inspirational for me, and I wanted to share his gift with you. (I would have felt selfish if I had kept his music to myself without letting others know about it!)

John, I know you don’t know me from any other fan, but I wish you and your talent the best. You truly deserve to be promoted and to play in a venue where you get the recognition you deserve. I applaud you from those high places where the soul resides.

Peace, my friends, and remember: Let your Soul Grow!
–Ra Lynn

To all my readers and fans: As you may already know, I’m a supporter of all the arts, and from time to time you’ll discover a post from me reviewing other people’s work. I do this as an avenue for you, my fans and curious readers, to stretch your soul as well.

What about you? Do you know of an especially talented, gifted, inspired or unique artist that you think I’d enjoy–be they a painter, sculptor, musician, poet, architect, etc? If so, drop me a line. I’ll follow your lead and write a review for others to read and learn from.

Christmastime 2013

Standing in a parking lot while my girlfriend is doing some Christmas shopping, I find myself taking inventory of Christmases past. Into my mind fly memories of snow, cold, and cheer. Standing here watching these internal movies, I find that each recollection has its own sweetness or bitterness. To revisit these memories is like walking away from this reality and going back to what was once present and familiar.

On this December night all the other Christmas nights of my life come alive again. Twenty-thirteen has been an eventful year, full of excitement both good and bad. This year is now almost completely gone, and I’m feeling hopeful about 2014. What will it bring me? It stretches before me in imagination like some great vision, a vision filled with awe of the unfamiliar. I see a year that can be friendly or unkind or a combination thereof. But I don’t fret or dread it. I welcome it. If anything is consistent in life, of course, it’s change, and I see that 2014 will be a year of change.

Thinking about Decembers past, I focus on the friendships that warm me like cozy fires kindled by family members and friends of yesterday. As I stand here in the parking lot, quietly reminiscing, I hear the echoes of those voices that in earlier days meant a lot to me. I hear the voices of friends and family members who have passed on from this world. When I close my eyes, I can see their smiles, hear their voices. And I smile. I also think about those living whom I’ve not seen in a long time, and to them I offer a wish of good health and fortune for the holiday season and the coming year. I understand that the pathways of my past have brought me to this point in my life, and I release a breath of gratitude. I’m thankful to have known some truly special people in my time.

And so it is now the Christmas season of 2013. These nights, the stores are filled with anxious and aggressive shoppers pushing, and grabbing up merchandise. Selfishly, uncompromisingly, they are going about the holiday with little thought about the infant laid in a manger or the shining angels that appeared to the shepherds or the miraculous star that took its station in the sky. It’s a story that all Christians are familiar with, the one that deals simply with the goodness of the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the story of God’s gift of charity to mankind. Deeper than the pushing, shoving and shopping I can see that Christmas glows in the faces around me in their friendly smiles. I see good people hugging their families and friends.

Somewhere I hear “Peace on Earth and good will toward men,” which is an optimistic prayer that wars and rivalries may vex the nation no more, not only on Christmas, but the whole year ’round.

The 25th of December is a great day. It’s a day that many look forward to with hope and gratitude. In the Good Book, we find Isaiah standing on the peaks of prophecy, looking across ruined empires and seeing a new star rise above the horizon. Further in the past, before events recorded in the Bible, we find the pagans whose deities filled the heavens and who rejoiced in the harvest festival from December 17th to January 3rd. In the midst of their merrymaking came December 25th and the ceremony honoring the birth of Mithra. For me, no matter the belief, winter is the season to make merry and be grateful for what we have.

Time moves forward, and it’s getting late. Soon the lights in the great shopping malls will go out and the empty stores will be left to the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. Here where I live, the temperature is dropping, and I can see my breath now. I look up to the sparkling heavens. There’s the Milky Way in its powdery grandeur, there are stars and planets shining peacefully in their black spaces, and I think that in a few days, there will be one Christmas less between my grave and me. Not a dreadful thought, but a natural one.

I think of the year to come and I wonder if it’s possible for the people who hold high places in government to be the ones who lead us into the New Year properly. Could they cast us a new reality, one that is heaped high with happiness and the good for mankind? Is it even possible for mankind to live in balance on Mother Earth; to love and not hate, to live and not obliterate?

It would be nice to wake up at the end of this year and find that this Christmas had created a lovely, loving memory that will last the whole year. That’s what I wish.

May Your Spirit Grow!

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Ra Lynn LoneWalker

Eyes Of Sunday Morning

What goes on behind the scenes of my work is important to me because it inspires me to include the details of everyday life in the books I write. It’s the little moments we all experience that help us relate to one another. For me, the little details are the things that draw me into a book, movie, article and so on.

It’s the little things that are important. For instance, this morning (Sunday) my girlfriend and I left our house and went for a drive to Virginia City. When we got out of the car I could hear bells ringing from a nearby church. The night before I was lost in doubt. I couldn’t see myself in the future. I was afraid—there is a lot of power in doubt.

The day was sun-filled, with crystal-blue skies above. I looked at my girlfriend and smiled. She smiled back at me. I love to see her smile. She had no idea of the doubt that haunted me the night before.

I could see the church behind her, and behind that I saw the partly cloudy sky. I felt better. Faith had been restored. Although I’m not a Christian, I could see the symbolism in the beauty in front of me.

“I see you,” I said.

“I see you too,” she said.

Unbeknownst to her, in that fraction of time … in that tiny little moment her eyes, hazel and magnificent, not only saw me, they soothed me. We’ve been together for a few years now and without question love lives in our house. But this morning her eyes…

If you are a student of science, you’ve been told that Charles Darwin believed in and promoted evolution by natural selection. We are taught in school that we, the human race, crawled out of some evolutionary soup. His hypothesis has been taught as fact, rather than supposition, for some time now. What most of us were not taught is that Charles had doubts about his supposition. The eyes of every species are too complex, causing Charles to believe it would have taken divine intervention to create such a superb organ.

The first time I saw my girlfriend, long before we dated, I only glanced at her. I didn’t see the amazing woman I know today. But I remember the first time that I really saw her, really saw her, time slowed down for me. She was brushing her hair back around her ear with her hand. It was rude of me to stare as long as I did, we were only acquaintances at the time, but I did. I saw in her the woman I see today. But back then I thought there was no way she could live up to the dream I had of her. I remember that day well. She will tell you that back then she didn’t even notice me. I know she believes that, I also know her soul felt differently. Her soul was there. It was in her eyes smiling, calling me.

Charles couldn’t understand how the sclera, cornea, iris, optic nerves, and various other intricate components could have evolved at the same rate as the rest of our bodies. For a single organism to go from complete blindness in a pond of soup to developing a place that would become an eye that would eventually see light, recognize images, color and so on—well, there was just no way to explain it with science. The eye is elegant. It not only perceives, but it is a major portion of our identity. The color of our eyes, the shape of them—how well-rounded or curved they are—gives us a basic expression that the rest of the world interacts with. As humans, we look into another person’s eyes and we gain information. We get a feeling whether we can trust them or not.

This morning I felt my abdominal muscles tighten when she tilted her head to one side and said, “I see you too.” I saw the face of loveliness. She tells me she sees the next best-selling author. I smile when I hear this. Those are such kind words. But I understand how tough the literary world is. I have my doubts.

Charles had doubts too. He looked at the eye and realized that it was more likely to have been designed, moreover created, than to have evolved. There were times of doubt for Charles and the eye was one great cause. His wife Emma encouraged him to go on, the scientific community encouraged him to go on.

I too see the eye as created. I have no reservations that life was created by something greater than we are capable of understanding. My girlfriend encourages me. Her eyes speak … not in words but in a soft, universal dialect. The unspoken words are palpable with exquisite, loving emotion. I memorize the small moment.

“Why are looking at me like that?” she asks.

I turn my head. “It’s nothing. I just want to remember this moment. That’s all.”

I tell myself, I must never forget the eyes of Sunday morning.

Saturday Morning

Sometimes, just sometimes, the inspirational places are at home with the ones we love, more so than going off to discover some new place. That’s what this blog is about, my little home and living with the one I love. Trying to keep a balance of life, love and happiness is tricky. Take a moment and read this over. I think most people can relate to life moving too fast.
Life’s a rush.

“Come on Baby, it’s time to get up,” you say. “The alarm has called out and it’s time for us to get going.”
“I hate mornings,” I say.
It’s a crazy, fast-paced world with technology pushing the envelope of speed and we are swept up in its current. The rush is pulling you in that direction while I’m going the opposite way.

“I’ll miss you.” I say.
“I don’t want to leave,” you say.

But nothing can hold back the rush. Our calendar has ink all over it to help us keep it all in order. You’ve got to be in Lodi and I have a meeting in Denver, but we hope that we can share Saturday.

“Don’t forget, your mom’s coming for a visit,” you say.
“That’s right,” I say.

In the warmth of motherly love we smile at each other over our joy of seeing her on Saturday. So the weekend flies by and the alarm brings round another Monday.

“I hate Mondays,” I say.
“Hurry, I’ve got a conference call at eight,” you say.

The shower is a flash of water to wash the sleep from our eyes. I wonder how many words we share with other people and how many we don’t share with each other. Your call ends and quickly you run off to the dry cleaner’s to refresh your suitcase. The suitcase rolls on wheels to help things move faster. You roll it out to the car and I load it in the trunk. I stand in the driveway and wave good-bye. Alone, I turn and go back to work. Alone, you drive the many miles to your next appointment. I wonder if we are becoming immune to the loneliness. At night we talk through the diffusion of our cell phones. I hope it helps fill the gap between us. But we look forward to Saturday and the weekend.

“Remember, your daughter is flying in for a visit,” I say.
“That’s right,” you say.

With the thrill of family coming together we smile at each other over the conversation on Saturday. So the weekend flies by and the alarm brings round another Monday.

“Is it morning already?” you say.
“I’ve got to get going, I have a meeting with my book designer,” I say.

The shower jump-starts our bodies better than a cup of coffee and we are at it again. I watch you get dressed. You are beautiful. Through the stress of the coming week I know I will still be in love with you when the grind comes to an end. But I wonder if there is an end to the rush. I stand in the drive and wave good-bye as you rush to catch a flight to Phoenix. Alone, I turn and go back to work.

Time alone.

In the middle of the night I reach for you, waking from my sleep but your not there. The bed feels cold and empty. I lie awake drained but unable to go back to sleep. I can’t remember which city you are in, I only know you aren’t with me. In the dark of night I decide that I need to tell to you how I feel. I never thought I would complain about it like this, but I realize that I don’t like the rush anymore.

“It’s two in the morning,” you say. “Is everything all right?”
“I don’t like this anymore. We both have been working so hard that I’ve forgotten what it is we are working towards,” I say.

The cell phone doesn’t bring the comfort I had hoped it would. The room is still empty. The hotel room you’re in is cold you tell me. Your voice lets me know what needs to happen. I know what to say but it’s scary for me.

“I think it would be best if I spent some time alone to sort things out,” I say.
“You have plenty of time alone,” you say.

I hear it in your voice, the stress that lives between us. The grind has worn us down. You speak to your friends at work about problems you used to talk to me about. And I call up some old friends to see what they have been up to and if I can come along. I notice that we have been filling the empty spaces between us and it hurts me.

“What kind of time alone?” you say.
“I need some time alone with you,” I say.

I hear it in your voice, the love that lives there for me, and I smile. You tell me how you had a dream about us driving off in a convertible on a spontaneous trip … just the two of us. I listen to the details of your dream and it’s like a breath of fresh air. In your dream you saw us burning our scheduling books, flinging our cell phones to the side of the road, and leaving our obligations behind.

“We have the weekend,” I say.
“Let’s play possum,” you say.

Saturday morning never looked so good. The sun is shining bright. It’s up there to wake us up. It’s quiet and no one else is around, it’s just you and I. The sky is blue and inviting us to enjoy the day.

“Honey, I didn’t know how much I missed you … I can’t tell you how good it feels to have you by my side,” I say.
“My love for you is strong, and in my weaker moments it’s what keeps me going,” you say.

In the haven of my mind, thoughts are no longer distracted or scattered. They are focused and right there with me, feeling the soft warm kisses you give me. The book I had been writing lies half-unwritten, absorbing the rush of life. And we, well, we share Saturday alone together.

Superstition Mountain

My girlfriend and I hiked up Superstition Mountain in Apache Junction, AZ. earlier in the month. This mountain has a enigmatic past. It’s rumored to have gold rich gold mine that very few have been able to find. It’s called the Lost Dutchman mine.

However we weren’t looking for gold or a mine. My girlfriend had read about some petroglyphs on Superstition Mountain. When someone says trail to me my eyes light up. When you say petroglyphs to me you have my attention. Because those words have a deep meaning to me. I get high when I’m out in nature. For a mysterious way, not to be understood, my trails have no end. I may not venture out for weeks but when I do they are out there waiting for me, as excited to have me as I am to be there with them.

Our trail this month led up to a general high elevation with comparatively little climbing and comparatively easy traveling to other trails we have been on. However the trail up to where the petroglyphs was an angry one. Everything that grows on that trail either stabs, bites or pricks. Not dangerous, but defiantly noticeable. We started out early in the morning but it was still damn hot!

We made the climb happy to be outdoors and enjoying nature. The trail came to a crevasse that had pools of yucky stagnant water in the bottom. But we found the petroglyphs and they were well preserved. So interesting to read a form of communication from the distant past. There was a petroglyph of a monkey…a monkey? I found that interesting because in recent times monkeys haven’t lived in north America but here was one etched in the rock. There were other animals some identifiable and other’s that were strange.

If you have the opportunity to read Shades of Gray you will find references to petroglyphs. I feel a deep connection to the communication written in the stone. I think they have been misjudged by the archeological community. For instance there is a cave in Nevada that my girlfriend and I hiked up to. The cave had loads of art work but there was a sign that stated the ‘natives’ scribbled on the walls. The authority over the cave claims there is no meaning in the art there. If one looks closely one will see references to our galaxy the Milky Way. I saw spheres and the third sphere from the large one with radiating lines was clearly earth. Well, to me anyway.

Back to our hike up Superstition Mountain …We entered the megalithic stone garden where the pertoglyphs lived at the close of the morning hours.The great rocks held scenes carved in them of an age undetermined. We seemed to have shrunk standing near the huge natural stones. While looking at the area it seemed as if we may have crossed back in time and prehistoric man could have appeared carrying out his daily tasks. We stood as pigmies in the setting before us which had stood in its colossi from age after age after yet another age.

In spite of the magnificence and wonder of the ancient artwork we were a little glad to have left.  The heat was wearing true,  but perhaps more so, the area held us too rigidly to a spiritual standard of which our normal lives were incapable of comprehending. Conceivably, this place insisted on a loftiness of the soul, a dignity, a remoteness from the ordinary affairs of life, the ordinary occupations of thought hardly compatible with the powers of any creature less noble, less aged, less wise in the passing of centuries than itself.  For the area held a frequency of spirit that one can tune into but the information there is rich yet just out of our reach.

What Is Alternative Spiritual Fiction?

I was asked why do you use the term Alternative Spiritual Fiction?

I confess this a is a genre I made up. I don’t like my work to be placed into a box, have boarders built around them, it feels to confining to me. I want my work to be free. To me when I use the word genre I’m limiting my work and I’m giving the perspective reader an avenue to assume a lot about my work.

This is how I look at it.

I consider myself an alternative spiritual novelist. My works take the reader into a realm of spiritual possibilities that may or may not have been considered. In my works the reader will most likely have to take time to ponder ideas that may challenge their traditional beliefs. Much of my writings emanate from events that are true yet muffled by our culture. I bring forward my stories for those whose attention at one time or another was drawn up into the night’s sky, or who whose courage prompted them to climb down deep into a cave where the hairs on the back of their neck raised, their eyes opened wide in disbelief. They were astonished by an incomprehensible experience, yet there wasn’t any doubt it was real. For in the night’s sky or in the deep cavern was the incomprehensible … the most dazzling incomprehensible experience …. the magnificent phenomena of mystery.

I was asked the other day by a fellow author what genre I write. “I’m an alternative spiritual novelist.” I replied.

He looked at me strangely “I’m a Christian Fiction writer, is your work of the Holy Spirit?”

“Well, not exactly.” I said, realizing that my readers probably have similar questions. “What I do is write a fictional novel, take my book Shades of Gray,” I told him, “to the core of it, it’s a woman’s adventure book. However, I put my characters on a path where eventually they will have to see beyond our material world and see that our soul is the greater part of living.”

“So they are saved by the grace of Christ right?”

“No, not typically. That’s why it’s alternative spiritual fiction, my characters explore other avenues of the soul rather than traditional means.”

He frowned, “But Christ is our savior … Christianity is the answer to our soulful problems.”

“I understand your position, I do.”

“I don’t think you do.” He said. “You are one of those ‘new agers’ who hasn’t taken the time to read the good book.”

“I’m sorry,” I interrupted his assumption, “ I graduated from a Christian University and I have read the Bible cover to cover at least three times, and I have studied its content, so I’m very acquainted with the good book.”

“So, you are a Christian.”

“No Sir, I’m not. Christianity failed me and thankfully through coincidence I found my true religion.”

“Do you care to elaborate?”

“I have never lost my faith in something greater than I am. I have always known there is a greater soul at work. One only has to take an anatomy class to see that we are created not evolved.”

“I agree with that.” He said looking at me intensely. I could tell he was of the evangelistic sort and wanted me to agree with him before our conversation ended. He felt it was his duty to identify Christ as my savior. I have seen this before when I went to the Christian University.
“I never failed to pray and I was certain the greater spirit would help me find the answers I was looking for. It’s been years ago, but I was rock climbing in a canyon in the southwest when I came across a very small hole. I could feel air coming out of this hole and I assumed it was a vent shaft for a mine. After a quick survey I was aware that there wasn’t any mining going on in this canyon. I had the urge to see inside the shaft. With great difficulty I wiggled my body into the hole.” I laughed and he looked at me.

“What’s funny about that?”

“If you know me at all, I am very claustrophobic so the idea of me wigging my way into a hole is funny. But that is how strong the urge was. On a soul level I couldn’t resist so with faith I committed to the shaft. Once the full length of my body was in, there was no turning back. I was freaked-out there in the dark and the dust having a hard time breathing while inching forward, but I did continue forward for what seemed like eternity … over an hour anyway. It was time enough for me to break down in panic and pray whole-heartedly. It was time enough to think about my life and how I had honored my soul but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. At some point one of my arms got pinned and I was stuck, I felt I had made a mistake and was certain I was going to die in that shaft. I thought about how no one would ever find my body in the deep hole. In that desperate situation I felt my soul take over and I was determined to get out of shaft and the only way was by going forward. I worked hard and finally wiggled my arm free.”

“So God rescued you?” He asked.

“Yea, you might say that … I believe that something or some spirit helped me in that situation.”

“You can never underestimate the power of God.”

“Very true.”

“So, where did the shaft lead?”

“The shaft was a constant declination leading me not only forward but downward. Now remember I was in the American southwest.”

He nodded.

“The shaft ended in a large room, something built, and built intelligently. The room was made out of the natural stone, carved but not like you would think because the walls were smooth like polished marble. I write about this place in my book Shades of Gray. If you read my book I describe this chamber and that it had what looked like ancient Egyptian artifacts in it.”

“So.” He said.

“The place changed my life. In the southwestern United States was a place that was older than mankind, by Christian views, and was not supposed to exist. Yet here it was. And stored within were books and information that offered me knowledge as to how my soul, your soul, everyone’s higher being has a purpose. I learned in that system of chambers that we not only have a loving God, but we have a loving Goddess – we have celestial parents!”

“Rubbish.” He said.

“Not if you think about it. In nature everything has a balance, why not in the heavens? It makes perfect since that a Goddess, a maternal goddess is a part of us and has an interest in what we do. We mention her daily by saying Mother Nature, I’m sure you’ve said those words. It only makes sense that a Goddess would be involved with the earth.”

“What a fantasy! I don’t know where you were, but God doesn’t live in a hole. He works alone from a higher place and there is no reason for him to have a goddess. If I were you I would pray for forgiveness for embracing false gods … or goddess in this case.”

“I understand your point of view and I’m not telling you this story to convince you of anything. When we part I expect you to keep your point of view and your faith in Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit. I’m only explaining that there are alternatives to our soulful work.”

“These kinds of alternatives are blasphemous in the eyes of the Lord.”

“No, I disagree, and the people that created the temple that is hidden in the ground knew of celestial parents and I am convinced they were correct. They had nothing to gain from deception. They lived a millennia before us, they had their beliefs and wrote them literally in stone. So, I have the alternative to believe in something important that was lost to mankind. Now I write about the things I’ve learned so that my readers can question the world they live in.”

“It’s your attempt to persuade your readers to leave Christianity and that is wrong.”

“Again, I disagree. I see nothing wrong with what people believe in. Most all religions have goodness at the core. I’m not asking anyone to turn their back on the religion they believe in. I write about real human experiences, human challenges that aren’t always things our secular world has an answer for. I have my characters explore soulful solutions. I’m not preaching. I’m only offering an alternative to working through human stresses and problems. I base the solutions for my characters from what I have come to understand from my own experiences.”

“What you write about is wrong and I doubt you will ever see success in your writing.”

“You have your opinion and I have mine but I don’t think what I write about is wrong. I figure if someone is reading my book and they don’t like the story they will put it down. Just as I do when I’m reading. If I don’t like the message or the story I can put the book down … it’s my choice.”

We bid each other good day and departed company. My day continued but the conversation hung in my head. I thought about the people that don’t know me and have purchased Shades Of Gray. I thought about the description of an Alternative Spiritual Novelist.


Are they really a description of who we are and what we do?

As an author we are required to have a platform to write from. We have a responsibility to our readers promising that they can expect to find the content of our work interesting. It would be wrong of me to tell people I’m an alternative spiritual novelist and then write about politics. I’m breaking my promise to you, the reader, that what I say I’m writing about is what your interested in.

In short my promise to my readers is that in my books you will find real human experiences that have spiritual considerations as solutions to their problems.
I hope this provides some clarity for those who have questioned my genre.

Thank you.
Let your spirit grow.
Ra Lynn

The Visit

[Below is my version of a one-sided conversation with my father. I wrote it this way because I thought it would offer you a chance to fill in the other side of the conversation with your own father’s voice and words.]

Last month I went out to see my father. He lives in a remote area on the border between Wyoming and Utah, a beautiful place by any standard. It had been awhile since I had paid him a visit. Lately, every time I see him I see the aging man he is now, not the man of my childhood. The man of my childhood no longer exists, dead and gone for many years. Currently my father is growing old, and time picks at him, annoys him, and like all of us, it frustrates him.
In the “Behind the Scenes” I like to give you some background about the books I write and the characters in those works. My father is just one of those people I mine traits from for my characters.

The visit.

It’s good to see you, Dad. 

Yea, it’s been a long time since I’ve been home. I guess I should’ve come home sooner, I didn’t realize that you were so alone.

 I saw the cattle down at Sweat Ranch, boy, they look mighty hefty on the hoof. The old ranch looks good. Plenty of water and the grazing is bountiful.
The old buildings on the place sure do look good. You did some fine work restoring them. The property will probably last forever now and I can imagine how future generations will be able to appreciate it. It’s a fine piece of history.

 Oh, you heard I’ve got a novel out now. 

Oh well, it’s just a book … one I doubt you would like. I’ve got another one coming out soon. I think it’s more of something you would enjoy. It will probably be six months to a year before it’s out.

 You look like you’ve lost some more weight. If you keep that up I swear you will just fade away. Your color is off and it causes me to worry about your health.

 Yea, that’s the same pickup I had before. It has been good to me and the engine is real strong. Besides, I don’t have the money for a new one. Sure, it takes a lot of fuel and yes, the price of fuel is out of sight these days. It seems everything costs a lot now days.

 I got this haircut in Reno and no I didn’t lose a bet. It’s a soul thing, but I doubt you would understand. A Mohawk does seem to suit me.

 I knew you were gonna ask when was the last time I made it home. I haven’t been here since grandmother passed away, and yea, I wasn’t here when grandfather joined her. I was on the road when I got the call. The weather was bad and I just couldn’t get back in time. But I went by the graveyard and it looks like they finally got the stone put in place. It’s a pretty color, that stone, they polished it up real fine.

 I’m sorry I didn’t come for a visit when mom left. I know you took it hard. Living up here by yourself has got to be difficult. How about you moving out to Reno and living near me?
No, you’re right, there isn’t any other place that’s going to feel like home. But your home is so remote. I think you would do better in a city.

  Yea, we have traffic lights in Reno. No, I haven’t seen Roger or his wife … I heard they moved to town. I’m sure he complains about living in town, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like it. The mountains are no place to grow into an old man.

  The Green River is flowing real good. Matt and I caught us a mess of fish. We had a great time. You should’ve come along. 

No, you’re not too old to walk the bank. I think you would have enjoyed it.

 Well, Dad, I’ve got to go now. To be honest I have work to get back to. I will let you know when the next book comes out.
Now you be good and eat better … and slow down on smoking those cigarettes. Winter will be coming on soon, will you be all right up here by yourself?

It wasn’t a problem for us to come out for a visit … we enjoyed it. Honest we did.

I found it difficult to leave him. He looked old and frail, and I felt he wasn’t entirely capable of taking good care of himself. I saw him as a species variously subdivided from the world I lived in. To me he had become an old man left behind by the changing world, unwilling to change with it.  I know his mind is filled with all kinds of important useful information, but with every passing minute the thoughts and memories are vanishing. I worried over him as I drove away.

Recipe: Quick & Easy Apple Pork Roast


1 (1.5 to 3 pound) pork loin or butt

1 large Braeburn Apple (any apple will work of course)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3-4 strips of Apple smoked bacon

1/4 large yellow onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 cup of applesauce

For gravy use a can of Campbells Golden mushroom

Preheat oven to 350. Wrap roast in evenly placed Bacon strips using tooth picks to hold in place. Place Pork roast in roasting pan.  (Optional teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce) Add the chopped onion, celery, applesauce, Golden Mushroom soup and 1/4 cup of water. Stir to combine ingredients with soup. Slice Apple in thick slices placing three pieces on bacon and roast, put the rest of the slices in the gravy.  Cover and bake for 45- 60 minutes depending on weight of roast.

After Roast is done (Check with thermometer) take roast out and thicken gravy with corn starch. Serve with biscuits.

I love to cook and eat of course. So, if you have a favorite recipe please share it with me below.

Thanks Ra

Recipe: Green Chile

This recipe is in conjunction with the previous Apple Pork roast recipe. If you don’t consume all of the pork roast you can make a wonderful tasty dish out of the leftovers.


1 1 teaspoon canola oil
2 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 Left over pork roast or (1 lb boneless pork shoulder or butt), trimmed (optional) I like to leave the fat on the roast for flavoring.
5 3 cups chopped onion (about 2)
6 1/4 cup chopped seeded green chile
7 (Optional) 1/4 cup chopped seeded jalapeño pepper (My girlfriend doesn’t like it hot so I leave this out.)
8 2 garlic cloves, crushed
9 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
10 I can of stewed tomatoes (I use a can of stewed tomatoes with green chiles
11 2 teaspoons dried oregano
12 5 (11-ounce) cans whole tomatillos, drained and chopped ( you can also get this item in canned form – the easy way isn’t cheating.)
13 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
14 8 or so lime wedges


1 Turn slow cooker on low.
2 Place the roast in fat side up.
3 Add chicken broth and let it cook. ( I start this process about 6 or 7pm and let if cook all night)
4 Take out the roast and shred it. It should fall apart easily.
5 Add stewed tomatoes, lime wedges, onion, chile peppers, and garlic, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, oregano, and tomatillos to slow cooker.
6 Return Shredded pork to slow cooker. Cover and let cook on low for 4 to 6 hrs. Stir in cilantro.
7 Often times I’m not going to eat the chili that day so let the slow cooker cool completely. Pick out the lime wedges and place the green chili in an airtight container or heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; freeze for a later date.
8 When I’m in the mood for the chili I thaw pork green chili overnight in refrigerator. Then I place it in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.
(Optional) Smothered Burritos – I like to thicken the green chili with corn starch and use it like a gravy over Burritos.

I Guess I’m Doing Better Than Some People

I was out visiting friends the other day and I caught up with someone I haven’t seen in long time. I asked my old friend how he’d been since I last saw him. He looked down at the ground and shook his head and said:

I got laid-off three years ago, my wife she filed for divorce two years ago. And my kids, well, they call another man dad. But my eyesight is still good, so, I guess I’m doing better than some people.

My unemployment ran out not long ago, then the mortgage was due and I couldn’t pay. After that I got a notification that my house was in foreclosure. But my health is in good shape, so, I guess I’m doing better than some people. 

My savings has gone completely dry and my car got repossessed late last week. I pawned off all my tools to buy groceries. But my legs are good, so, I guess I’m doing better than some people.

Everyday I seem to be losing something material and my life is reduced to a handful of things. But I’ve been sober for over a year, so, I guess I’m doing better than some people.

Man, I feel like I’m out there in the twilight zone sometimes when I see how my life has changed. I play the old country music and I get sad when I think of the day Waylon Jennings died. I think of how his music made me happy and how his silence makes me cry. My power got shut off the other day now I can’t listen to anything. But I’ve learned to pray, so, I guess I’m doing better than some people.

Here we are, we probably should be talking about the weather. But we both know damn well, its not easy living in this world of money. I’m a man of work with nowhere to go. I’m broke but I’m not broken, and I could use a job. But I’ve come to understand that God sees me and I feel him smile, so, I guess I’m doing better than some people.

I remember a time when my future was bright, I was handsome and strong and when I walked along I held my head high. Somehow I lost my way and now I feel bent, old and obsolete. But I still have my guitar and I can play the strings, so, I guess I’m doing better than some people.

I know that lately things haven’t been so good, things have changed and I’ve done all I know how to do for my situation. I’m just a simple man, you know. I don’t need much. I suppose though, if I had it to live all over again I doubt I trade it or change one thing. It’s like ole Jimmy Buffet says, ‘Some of it was magic some of it was tragic but I’ve had a good life all the way.’ At least I have some good memories, so, I guess I’m doing better than some people.

The economical storm in my old friends life was heart wrenching to hear. The afternoon visit seemed to be heavy on his shoulder and he looked uncomfortable with that ‘I wish I had better story to tell’ look on his face. I didn’t have much money but I reached for my wallet and he stopped me.

“It’s been real good to see you friend, it’s nice to know you care but I don’t want your money. I’ve known you to be a soulful man, would you mind, just say a prayer for me instead.”

I nodded in agreement. I got back in my pickup, gave him one last long look and waved goodbye. As I drove away I thought about how it can happen to any of us at any moment. Our world can change. We can lose our job, become ill, or death finds someone close to us. These things that are ugly and stink up our lives we call shit. And when it happens to us people often say as if it’s comforting ‘Shit happens!’

So, I prayed for my friend and all of mankind.

“Thank you o lord for the gift of life. Each of us is a seed for greater things and you have planted us here on Mother Earth, and I’m so thankful to be here. I also thank you for all the shit that happens to us because it takes a lot of shit to help the crops to grow. We are growing o lord, we have been fertilized well and we are growing to be better because of it. Thank you for our growth.”

After that prayer I too felt God smile.

Bless you all and may your Spirit Grow.

Ra Lynn