What first comes to mind in describing my journey with the six years of heading up a monthly singing night at Prana is this intro to a song I wrote in the late 70’s called Be True to Prana. (These three lines go to the melody of Run Around Sue):
Moved from Miami in 1977, to a place called Prana for a slice of heaven, lived in the South Wing in a tiny room, with a boy named John from a Christian womb. Married a West winger named Kathleen, finest gal I’d ever seen. We flew the nest and moved out west, but always returned to the place that’s best, a place called Prana, Prana, bap she doo de wop, Prana.
Kathleen and I met at Prana when I came out for Conference in 1975, and wound up getting married in 1980 in the foyer. After living next door for a couple of months, we moved to the Westside for a few years, and then decided to move back to Prana in 1983; this time as a married couple. Job opportunities took us to Bucks County, PA for 2 1/2 years in the mid-’80s, and after we returned to LA in 1988, we’d regularly come to Prana as volunteers and for classes for the next 30 years. Now that we’re about to embark on a new adventure by moving to Pima County, Arizona, just north of Tucson, I’ve been reflecting on what I will miss most about Southern California. The number one thing is Prana, and specifically, Singing for the Joy of It!
It started in the fall of 2012 as an idea I tossed around for a couple of months with Valerie Simons and Kim Guisinger, and we came up with the name Soul Singing. So I moved forward with it, put the word out, and our first gathering was in November of that year. The format has stayed pretty constant thru the years, with karaoke being the main focus, along with some singing with guitar or CD track accompaniment, and occasionally acapella and poetry reciting. We take turns going around in a circle, and often the audience joins in. Sometimes there have been duets, and we also intersperse some group songs.
We only have one ‘rule’ or ‘guideline’ and that is to love and support the person singing. This means giving whoever is singing your loving attention & not side-talking or being discourteous. We’ve had participants from age 9 up to 89, and all levels of experience and expertise. A couple of years ago we decided to come up with a new name to see about creating more interest, and renamed it Singing for the Joy of It (S4JOI for short); though some still call it Soul Singing!
For me, both as a participant, coordinator and host, it’s been an uplifting, fun, freeing, Spirit-filled, and joyous experience, and one of the most rewarding ministries since I was ordained in November of 1973. My ordination blessing included “We place now in the heart that that we call joy, for this is man’s eternal promise.” My whole ordination blessing is on page ten of Blessings of Light). I’m so glad that a couple of people recently suggested that I stay connected to S4JOI via Zoom. So I will see about setting that up! I’d also love to either start a similar monthly gathering in the Tucson area, or join an existing one, preferably with Light-minded people.
It’s been most gratifying to get to know and share this experience with those who have attended thru the years, and especially with Peter Leighton, who has enthusiastically and skillfully served as our DJ, and Matthew VanFossan, who has brought so much joy and support!
Peter will be coordinating and MC’ing the gatherings going forward, as well as managing the Facebook group page. I am so glad that I am leaving S4JOI in such capable and loving hands! Both of them have become dear friends, and I will truly miss them, as well as others who have joined us.
As Kathleen and I move away from LA and Prana for the first time in decades, I leave with this prayer: May God, the Christ and Traveler continue to shower blessings upon this beautiful action, and to all those who are fortunate to participate!
Singing for the Joy of It is held on the 4th Saturday night of each month in the Large Seminar Room at Prana, from 7 ’till around 10 pm. To be added to the email list to receive reminders, please email Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org.