Upcoming Performances

  • Aug 31

    Franciscan Fine Arts Festival

    Mesilla Park

  • Sep 1

    Franciscan fine arts fest

    Mesilla Park

  • Sep 8

    Center for Spiritual Living

    Las Cruces

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I have always had this idea of service, a way to use my gifts and talents for more than just a way to earn a living. Maybe I saw my parents do this. My dad was always helping out strangers. Sometimes that was unsettling when he’d offer a ride to a hitchhiker or bring a stranger, usually a street person, to lunch with him and me. Equally, my mother was always helping others, inviting the priests to enchiladas every Sunday, visiting elders and other people who didn’t seem to get out. Who knows? It is a calling with me and part of my service as I see it.

My music is an extension of that calling whether it is my volunteer work or my records it is all the same source and motivation. I have been volunteering my music at hospice since around 2005 just after I began playing the Native American flute in 2004. I was asked by a friend, who was also the volunteer coordinator at a hospice here, to play for their “light of our lives” memorial service. Loved ones of people who had passed under hospice care for that past time period. A table filled with candles and photos and mementos were set up in the middle of the church. One by one people mentioned their loved one’s names. One little boy walked up to the table and pointed at a photo of his infant sister and stretched to grab it. His dad helped him and the boy kissed the picture. It was very moving and I struggled to keep playing the flute and keep my composure. I knew hospice was going to be a big part of my service.

Indeed, hospice is part of my work both as my regular hospice playing but also teaching other musicians to play music in specialized settings, which I’ve done since 2007 both in workshops and in flute schools around the United States. Recently, I had the time and commitment to go through the extensive proper volunteer training, background check, medical checks to be an official volunteer who can go into patient’s rooms, fill out paperwork of course and be part of the team, which I am grateful. Since then I receive regular requests to visit patients both in the inpatient facility and in the community at large, which is where most of their patient’s are. I have been doing this for over a decade, however, the way Hospices are funded is through their volunteer hours so I wanted to make sure not only that they receive credit, but that I follow their polices and procedures for compliance. 

It is a special service to be with people who are actively dying, terminal and their loved ones. I consider it a gift to them and me as well. Knowing how to be present and attentive without any hint of pity is the key. The way I see it is they are still here and alive and I ask about their life in a way that focuses on what they enjoyed doing or were passionate about. I play for them whether they are conscious or not knowing their life force, their spirit is very much present. Sometimes I will watch their breathing, face, body language and adjust my playing. I am very aware of the notes I play, the key of the flute, whether it is a soft playing flute or not.

Being able to talk with their loved ones about their lives is very powerful and I learn their connection to music whether it was as a musician or what songs they liked. Recently, a patient I played for several times who was having a difficult time letting go it seemed, turns out was a percussionist and played the Marimba. Next time I visited him I brought a wooden and metal tongue drum. The metal drum was a Moyo. I placed it on his bed next to his arm where he could feel the vibrations. As I played his eyes turned to me and tears began flowing ever so slightly from his eyes. His wife joked to him that it took a drum for him to finally respond as he had been unresponsive for days. He passed the next morning. I hear this time and time again how music helps people pass. I know from the studies and research I’ve done that music reaches the emotional centers of our brains essentially bypassing the thinking brain. It evokes emotions and allows for release in my experience. Like when you’re at a memorial or funeral and the bagpipes start playing “Amazing Grace,” you can’t keep those emotions down when that happens. So many of their experiences over the years not only playing for folks in hospice but assisted living, memory care, hospitals, chemo clinics have all deepened my appreciation of the temporary nature of life and what is ultimately important.

I wrote and recorded a song, “Where did you go” on my 2012 record Strong Medicine, which chronicled my own story of loss after caring for and losing my partner from pancreatic cancer in 2011. As I heard from people after we made our experience public in the media, they told me stories of their recently departed loved ones coming to them as clouds, birds, animals, signs everywhere. I also experienced this and wanted to make my personal experience into the universal, which I feel is the artist’s role. I did a healing meditation workshop in Leesburg, FL last May. One woman who was there had lost her husband that year. During the meditation she reported a Cardinal had come to her. Cardinals are considered signs a loved one’s spirit is near after they pass. I include images of Cardinals in this video as homage.

I hope you find some healing from this video and please share it with other. Subscribe to my YouTube channel while you are there please.

Thank you and Happy Valentines Day!

Randy

WHERE DID YOU GO

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Comments

February 10, 2019 @02:25 pm Hello Randy Lois
February 10, 2019 @11:41 am We always enjoy your Facebook posting and appreciate your contribution to making our country a loving place. Ronald And Violet Cauthon

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