Viriditas Newsletter, August

Dear Viriditas Community,

This month I’d like to discuss the importance of ritual as a vehicle to embrace the senses and bring peace by making us stop and be present. I’m a big believer in ritual even if it’s as simple as lighting a candle before you sit down to a meal. As I mentioned in previous newsletters I’m a student at the Yogic Mystery School with Russil Paul. All of the practices I’m learning include a ritualistic component. I begin by consecrating the space I am meditating in. The practices include specific gestures and clothing as well as the use of elements like fire and water. What always happens for me through ritual is achieving a sense of deep peace and in that state of peace connection with the Divine happens.

At our August Tap Into Transformation we invited everyone to engage in a ritual as they entered the Viriditas studio. Our intention was for them to leave their worries and life issues at the door and enter into an experience of the relaxation and flow of Hawaii. We asked them to take off their shoes and sink their feet into beach sand. Then they soaked their feet in water and rubbed scented oil on their feet before putting on their tap shoes. We sprayed them with rosewater and placed floral leis around their necks and grass skirts around their hips. I experienced peacefulness and delight settling into the group. Needless to say this greatly improved their tap dancing!

Tap Hawaii group

Herb Rodriguez and I played ukuleles to accompany the dancing. I was deeply touched by Herb for all the care and dedication he brought to teaching me the chords to play at our three rehearsals. As Herb sang that night, peace and love streamed from his sweet tenor voice. I swear I could hear the sound of the Pacific ocean along with the swish of everyone’s grass skirts and tap shoes as if I were right there in Hawaii! What was really exciting was that we had more men in attendance than women for the Hawaii theme! For those men who are afraid to put on tap shoes, know that it can be done and with a grass hula skirt as well! Here is a link to the song Herb and I played being performed by IZ. Listen to the sweetest Hawaiian voice ever! Herb surprised us with the gift of an extra song Aloha Oe, composed by Queen Lili’uokalani in Maunawili, Oahu, 1878. Here are the lyrics in both Hawaian and English:

HA A-HE-O KA U–A I NĀ PA-LI / Proudly swept the rain by the cliffs
KE NI-HI A E-LA I KA NAHELE / As on it glided through the trees,
E HA-HAI A–NA PAHA I KA LI-KO / Still following ever the “liko,”
PUA Ā-HI-HI LE-HU-A O U–KA / The Ahihi lehua of the vale.

CHORUS: (2 times)
ALOHA O—-E, ALOHA ‘O—–E / Farewell to thee, farewell to thee,
E KE O-NA-O-NA NOHO I KA LI-PO / Thou charming one who dwells in shaded bow’rs

ALOHA O—-E, ALOHA ‘O—–E / Farewell to thee, farewell to thee,
E KE O-NA-O-NA NOHO I KA LI-PO / Thou charming one who dwells in shaded bow’rs


We served Hawaiian pineapple roast pork and mashed parsnips for dinner. It was so delicious and easy I’m including the recipe below for you to enjoy! (Recipe courtesy of Brian Boitano)

Braised Hawaiian Pork Shoulder
Total Time: 3 hrs

Prep: 15 min
Cook: 2 hr 45 min
Yield:4 servings


1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons red Hawaiian sea salt or kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder or Boston pork butt
1/4 cup canola oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 (3-inch) piece ginger, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup pineapple juice
2 cups chicken stock or broth

Special Equipment: Butcher’s twine

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, Hawaiian salt, paprika, cumin, coriander and black pepper.

Cut the pork into 4 equal portions, then tie each cut with some butcher’s twine. Lightly sprinkle each piece with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Sear each cut of pork on all sides, then transfer them to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon
canola oil to the same pot along with the onions, ginger, and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Pour in the pineapple juice and chicken stock and return the pork to the pot.
Cover put the pot into the oven to braise until the pork is fork tender, about for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove the pork from the Dutch oven and arrange the pieces on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each piece with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mixture and put them
under a low broiler until their tops are brown and crisp but not burned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a serving platter and serve with a drizzle of braising liquid. Serve the pork with the Mashed Parsnips and Celery Root, if desired.

The second half of our evening focused on the natural world and Sharpettes! David brought twenty Sharpettes he’d written using words about nature. We read each
Sharpette and would then all guess the word! I’ve included two of my favorites below. Guess the words!

The prime liquid, Life blood of life
Like none other… cleansing, healing, sustaining.

Earth jutting high, the tallest ground
Like dirt touching the sky, and inviting climbs.

Continuing the theme of the natural world, I want to share about our last marimba performance at the St. Julienne Hotel. Did you know marimba means “singing wood?” It does! And it’s best experienced outside under the moon and stars as we were on the patio of the St. Julienne. The mood was very relaxed. My favorite part was dancing with the other members of the Kutandara community. My heart went out to Randy & Amy McIntosh that night as I admired their dedication and ability to pull people together and create such joy. They’ve been at this in Boulder for over 15 years! Here is a photo of me on the lead marimba with Randy McIntosh on the djembe taken at the St. Julienne.

JGA marimba St. Julienn

Our band Titandare has taken two weeks off and will renew our journey together on August 21st. We have decided to extend our time together on Thursday nights so we can learn new music as well as keep our repertoire alive. I will let you know when our next performance will be.

Finally, on the African music front the father/son duo in the video last month were Toumani Diabaté and Sidiki Diabaté from Mali each playing the glorious Kora. I was so inspired to hear Toumani say, “For many years now, God has given us this gift, this energy in our family.” And then to hear Sidiki add, “When I play, I am joyful.” It was so clear to me watching and listening to this film, that God’s energy is a joyous energy. When was the last time you were joyful? To get a hit of joy, check out this month’s video! I invite you to dance and sing along!!!!

May you experience the joy of the natural world and the peace of ritual!

In Viriditas,