Luminous Moments: Slowing Down and Noticing

This is a very exciting time in the Lifesongs calendar.  For the last several months, we have all – elders, youth, artists, and community members – been wholeheartedly engaged in sharing our lives and stories with one another, and in creating songs (and even dances!) together.  On May 7th, as part of the Academy’s Festival of Learning, we will have the opportunity to share these songs with the wider community at the Lensic.

As we prepare for I Saw The Mystery: Lifesongs in Concert, we are reflecting upon the year that has been: the heart-opening conversations, the personal discoveries, and the insights that we shared as a community. Our Luminous Moments. The following is a reflection by facilitating artist Vanessa Torres McGovern:

Sometimes walking into the Santa Fe Care Center feels like stepping into an alternate universe, one where human beings appear suspended in time, waiting. It is a world that is not easy on the eyes; not gentle to the senses. There is the smell of cleaning solution; there is the harsh glare of fluorescent lights. It is a world in which our elders wake up each day and do their best to live normal lives, despite being on the periphery of what most of our society considers living.

Christine Sandoval, the activities director, has often said, “We are not here to die, we are here to live.” This statement encapsulates why I feel at times that to be here, whoever you are, is a revolutionary act. To continue to nurture life where life is abjectly ignored is a radical notion.

Herman Sandoval is often one of the first people I see when I enter. Herman knows almost everybody in the town of Santa Fe because he used to help them find the perfect shoes to fit their feet in his shoe store on the plaza. I am immediately folded into embraces, offered wide smiles and handshakes. Sometimes I feel my heart break just a little bit to have to come and go, and sometimes I laugh and laugh at the humor and wit of these incredible humans.

When we gather in a circle, I know I will be reminded to slow down, to notice, to listen more deeply—to be transformed by the gratitude of another’s company on an ordinary afternoon. Our song, I Am here, was born from conversations we have had around what we each have to give.  Every time we get to the chorus, I feel the gravity of our connection illuminated— young, old, somewhere in between— we are mirrors for one another. The Chorus reminds us:

“I’m a lot like you, I’ve climbed trees
Had a family like yours, I’ve dreamed so many things
It’s not so far, To my front door
I am here, Here to live, I’m here to give.”

As our memories shift (some unpredictably), and our bodies change, it’s easy to forget the shining threads that weave between each one of us. Sitting here in this circle: laughing, singing, sometimes expressing grief and anger at all that is not in our control, I begin to feel that thread like a cord of energy strengthen between us. Even here, even now—especially here and now—we have the opportunity to be transformed.

Our circle is comprised of a range of ages, abilities, stories and experiences. Each session is different, and yet the ritual of creating space to connect, to sing, to move and to create something new reminds me of the enormous capacity of the human spirit. The circle reminds us of our desire to be a part of something greater than just ourselves.

I’ve had the privilege of co-facilitating these sessions over the past year. As facilitators, we often reflect on how the Lifesongs Ensemble has impacted our personal lives. I notice how much more time I want to spend with those I love, caring for my garden, and savoring the simplest of moments.

I am so proud of the song we’ve created together and of who we become when we gather.

Vanessa Torres McGovern
facilitating artist

I Saw The Mystery: Lifesongs in Concert

May 7, 7pm

Lensic Performing Arts Center

General admission tickets: $10; Premium tickets: $100

Ticketing through

Click here to hear some songs from our first Lifesongs album, Love is Here: Songs and Poems from the Heart.

We will have CDs available at the concert.

For more information on how to get involved with the Lifesongs Ensemble, email, or call 505-995-1860.