Why Do We Keep Going?

There was a time in my life when, if I was asked, I would have likely said that the reason we move forward is because of some inner brokenness that we are longing to escape. It looks like that sometimes, I think. If we stick our finger with a needle while we’re sewing it seems that the reason we would want to avoid that is because, well, it hurts. Brokenness and what seems to break us brings pain. We don’t want pain, so we move forward to escape.

“In a labyrinth, like life, there is only one destination. We simply have to keep moving forward in order to find it.”

This is the 19th year of the Spirit & Place Festival and the festival will explore JOURNEY. This year’s festival will kick off with the building of a labyrinth in historic Fountain Square. The church I serve as Senior Pastor, The Church Within, will join with other churches, spiritual organizations, and a number of local businesses to collect cans from which this labyrinth will be built.

A labyrinth is a sort of physical metaphor for the journey we walk in life. A labyrinth isn’t a maze. In a maze there are dead ends. You can get lost. In a labyrinth, like life, there is only one destination. We simply have to keep moving forward in order to find it.

My own spiritual journey has felt, at times, more like a maze than a labyrinth. I am sure I am not alone. What began for me in a small-town, Presbyterian church continued through years of atheism to a broad understanding that there are many paths to the divine and that every one of those paths is unfolding within the divine.

The motivation to move forward, if you were to ask me now, isn’t about escaping pain; it is about accepting the invitation home. It is about being drawn forward, not running from. It is about embracing the gorgeousness that we create together. We aren’t escaping brokenness. Brokenness is a temporary understanding of a false idea. We’re remembering that we are already whole.

From November 7th through 16th, 2014, Spirit & Place events all over the city will invite us to reflect on the many facets of personal and collective journey as well as the what, how, when, where and why of our moving and growing through life. Who among us couldn’t benefit from a few steps forward next to other journeyers?



IMG_0653Reverend Darren Chittick is the Senior Pastor of The Church Within in Fountain Square. He is an Indiana native, a country boy moved to the city, and he regularly enjoys growing food, knitting, martial arts and an interfaith understanding that finds a seat at the table for everyone. No one left out. If you want to know more about his work, check out http://www.thechurchwithin.org.

Nearby Journeys

sandy-sasso-08By Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

By plane, train and boat, I have taken many journeys across thousands of miles and continents; many stories, many moments of discovery.  But I want for a moment to reflect on a journey of a few blocks taken by foot.

“Together we discovered a whole world around us and between us.”

It was early fall and the sun was still warm.  My grandson and I were taking a short walk from my home to a nearby playground.  We were the only two people on the neighborhood path.  Backyards lined the sides of the walkway.  Vegetable gardens yielded their last produce and leaves began to turn; some had already fallen.  My grandson must have heard a sound of a scampering squirrel or birdsong when he stopped.  “Bubbie, do you hear that?”  He asked.

My attention was elsewhere and I hadn’t heard a thing.  But I stopped when he did and listened.  “Wow!” I said, as the squirrel hurried to collect his store of nuts.  Then I too heard the sounds of leaves crackling under foot and wind breathing through trees.  My grandson had taught me to listen.  Less distracted, he gave his full attention to where he was.  Together we discovered a whole world around us and between us.  Mistakenly, I had thought our destination was the playground.

It has been a few years since that autumn journey, but I can still feel my grandson’s  hand in mine and savor the delicious moments of undisturbed silence.

The poet Mary Oliver says there are three things that we must do in life:

Pay attention

Be astonished

And tell the story

Excellent advice for all our journeys, whether far away or at home.


No Longer Naptown

Soldiers & Sailors Monument Photo courtesy: Visit Indy

Soldiers & Sailors Monument
Photo courtesy: Visit Indy

by Christine Zetzl

For years Indy has been trying to decide what hat to wear – note how we’ve been fighting the love-hate “Naptown” nickname for decades.

But something new is brewing in our city. (And I’m not just talking about the 12+ new breweries to open in 2014!).

Sure, we do sports better than anyone. We’ve pulled off Olympic Trials, B1G Ten Championships and a Super Bowl. Hell, each May we host the world’s largest single-day sport event, the Indy 500.

Yet Indy excels at more than just sports, and we’re on a journey to find our identity.

Just this year, Indy welcomed a bikeshare program, the world’s largest all-electric car sharing program, and the first new downtown grocery store in nearly 30 years. This progress is clearly reflected in a huge spike of residents moving to our city’s core. Over the past four years, the number of residential apartments increased more than 30 percent, while rentals are in historically high demand (Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., & Urban Initiatives, 2013).

And with people, comes personality.

Our food scene has evolved from chain city to a launching pad for everything artisanal (I’m looking at you, bacon marshmallows). Alternative transportation options have caught on (though I’m not sure the Handlebar counts as “transportation”, we’ll allow it). And a culture of Indypride has exploded like never before.

In my short time living the “adult life” in Indy, I’ve noticed change for the better. “Naptown” only exists in our rearview mirror, and I’m excited to be along for the journey.

Christine Zetzl is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Visit Indy. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Christine enjoys cycling, coffee, traveling and all things Indy. Follow her latest adventure on Twitter: @christinezetzl.

Join us in 2014 as we celebrate the theme of “JOURNEY” during the Spirit & Place Festival, November 7-16.

My Journey

Brett Michael Wiscons

Brett Michael Wiscons

By Brett M. Wiscons

Ever since I was sixteen, way back in 1996, I wanted to be a musician.

My love for music really was born in my bedroom. I’d spend innumerable hours with the door closed while I listened to tunes by the Doors, Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Beach Boys. You know, the good stuff. I fantasized about being on a stage in not only the USA, but also in foreign countries. All I wanted to figure out was a way to make music my career. Fast forward to 2008, and I bid adieu to my relatively high paying and reasonably steady sales job to jump in, with both feet, to the music business.

“I fantasized about being on a stage in not only the USA, but also in foreign countries. All I wanted to figure out was a way to make music my career.”

I’d been singing in a band since high school, so I was laying the foundation for what was to come. As I moved on to college at Marian University in Indianapolis, I studied (sometimes) hard and decided it was best to at least obtain a degree in case the whole music thing didn’t work out. I settled on a business administration degree with a concentration in marketing and it truly came in handy.  I was still singing in a band on the weekends and getting my feet wet on the business side of things. I handled most of the booking and promotion aspects of the band. Looking back, it really was a blessing – for now I am just as comfortable trying to book a show in Florida as I am in my home state of Indiana.

Now, I’m 34, started my own, independent record label and publishing company (MAD Diamond Entertainment) and have some great things on the horizon. In the last two years I’ve written and self-published two private detective novels and released a new EP of music that was produced by a two-time GRAMMY winner. Later this summer, my new group and I (The Brett Wiscons Band) will be playing high profile shows with Zac Brown Band (July 13th) and at the Indiana State Fair (August 14th). I’m still working on playing overseas though, but it’s only a matter of time.

“I’ve by no means “arrived,” but the journey is what keeps my train on the tracks.”

It’s nice to pause and look back at my journey thus far. Writing this blog post has aided me in doing just that. Like most people, I’m always eyeing what’s next, but rarely live “in the moment.” When I really think about it, I feel I’ve been able to do some cool things in my music career which have led to lifelong friendships and memories. This is what I should be doing with my life. If there’s anyone out there – no matter what age – whose time and mind is consumed with a certain career field or path, they should follow it. You just might get where you’re going. I’ve by no means “arrived,” but the journey is what keeps my train on the tracks.

Brett Michael Wiscons is a singer-songwriter and novelist. He lives in Zionsville, IN with his wife and dog.  He can be found online at www.brettwiscons.com

Join us in 2014 as we celebrate the theme of “JOURNEY” during the Spirit & Place Festival, November 7-16.

















By Son Lux

I’m this close to calling Indianapolis my hometown. I grew up all over the country, and I have no memory of my true hometown, Denver, as I was outta there before I turned two. But my wife grew up in Indianapolis, and most of her family still lives in the area. I met Jennifer in Bloomington at IU 15 years ago (I had ventured from my then-home Atlanta to study music). So for the last 15 years, I’ve returned several times a year to visit family, but also for professional reasons.

“All this returning to Indianapolis has shaped my life and career. Though I am a “New Yorker” now (and, I hope, forever), Indianapolis has defined me like no other place.”

My connections to Indianapolis have grown steadily over the years; my manager, both record labels I’m working with–Joyful Noise Recordings and Asthmatic Kitty Records, and my lawyer are all based in Indianapolis. My last two releases, Lanterns and Alternate Worlds, feature the voices of two young singers who, serendipitously, grew up in Indianapolis (they are sisters, and make music as Lily & Madeleine). In 2013, I even had the opportunity to perform with the Indianapolis Symphony.

All this returning to Indianapolis has shaped my life and career. Though I am a “New Yorker” now (and, I hope, forever), Indianapolis has defined me like no other place.

Son Lux performing live at Spirit & Place Festival's Signature Series event 'Lanterns Raised; Journeys Through Art.'

Son Lux performing live at Spirit & Place Festival’s Signature Series event ‘Lanterns Raised: Journeys Through Art.’

For this reason, it’s always especially sweet to perform in Indy, and performing at CTS for the Spirit & Place Festival was no exception. But more than just an opportunity to return to a familiar place and faces I know, the show was a chance to return to my songs in a new way.

“To return is to gain the opportunity to experience the journey smarter, with wider eyes and a better understanding.”

Abandoning the electronics and sophisticated studio tools that shape my recordings, I chose to work with just a piano and voices for the show. The piano was my first instrument, and it’s always a bit of a homecoming when I get to spend some time with the instrument. Redeemer Presbyterian Church downtown on Delaware kindly allows me access to their sanctuary at night while I am in town in order to get my practicing in. So in the days leading up to the Spirit & Place event, I spent a few hours each night all alone in their beautiful sanctuary (it’s amazing in the dark at night!). Starting “from scratch” with each song I chose for the show, I built new arrangements with just the piano, and some toys and tools thrown in to modify the sound in various ways. This process of revisiting songs to reinvent them is very familiar to me.

In fact, the act returning has been a central theme in my career. Alternate Worlds, for example, is a return, of sorts, to four songs from the previous release, Lanterns. I did this once before, releasing the EP Weapons, which returns to a song of the same name from my first record, and unravels as multiple variations of it. The melody from “Weapons,” in fact, returns again and again in my own new compositions, and even in remixes I do of others’ work. I call it “the ghost melody,” as it returns like a haunting presence at unexpected moments.

But the act of returning is a unique type of journeying. When creating, I see it as an opportunity for reinvention, for the re-deployment of an idea or sound. The composer in me loves to return to the core of an idea in order to experience the thrill of the restart, the beauty of the wide horizon lost after the starting point. The return is an end to one kind of journey, but the heart of another kind. To return is to gain the opportunity to experience the journey smarter, with wider eyes and a better understanding. And hopefully, on occasion, it’s an opportunity to appreciate the “home” that makes your journeying possible.

Son Lux performed on April 9 in the Spirit & Place Signature Series event Lanterns Raised: Journeys Through Art along with artists Tony Styxx and Kathryn Armstrong.



Reflections on JOURNEY

By Spirit & Place

Spirit & Place Festival’s 2014 theme, JOURNEY, explores the ways in which we move and our reasons for doing so. The journey between “here” and “there” is filled with movement and meaning. How is this movement shaping—and being shaped by— identity, spirituality, public policy, and civic life? From the instruments of mobility in all its forms (education, money, waterways, trails, bus lines, bike lanes, policies, etc.), to the reasons (quality of life, self-expression, community development, health, persecution, pilgrimage, etc.), JOURNEY will explore the dynamic passages of peoples and places.

Many Hoosiers embark on spiritual journeys that can be both internal experiences and physical pilgrimages. Physicians innovate in the field of palliative care, exploring ways to end the journey of life in a way that is dignified, strong, and supported. Artists create works that transport others to a different time or place.

Yet even as we are inspired to travel spiritually, physically, and emotionally—both individually and together—we must strive to understand our methods, motives and directions. What expressions are we using as we journey? What holds us back from embarking on a journey? What places exist to encourage journey? Who or what do we take with us as we move toward or away from places spiritually, emotionally, or physically? How do we encourage and create opportunity for personal and collective movement?

We’ll delve-deep into our theme and explore answers to these intriguing questions year-round on our digital platforms and through dozens of “never-seen-before” programs at our 10-day long festival.

Join us this November to witness audacious performances, exhibits, thoughtful discussions, hands-on workshops, and other engaging programs that explore how our JOURNEY shapes our life.

Risk Recap – Touchy Subjects: Art, Sex, and Humor

118c159f-88f9-4475-8d1e-c3ce6219daf2Event name: Touchy Subjects: Art, Sex, and Humor

In one sentence, describe the event: A look at the risk artists take in creating edgy work.

How would you describe your risk-taking personality or lack thereof?: I don’t actually take a lot of risks. The biggest risks I take on a daily basis probably include the various media pitching strategies I use for my job. Sometimes my correspondence to get others to respond could be considered a bit risky.

What was the most memorable and/or meaningful aspect of the event?: I loved the discussion with the artists. It was vital in understanding the event itself and the risk the artists took in creating the work. Understanding the art from that level brings a greater appreciation for the work in an entirely new way.

What’s one thing you learned about risk that surprised you?: Risk comes in all forms! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect!

Each year’s Spirit & Place Festival’s theme influences the next year’s theme. Through the lens of this year’s theme of “Risk,” what types of events do you anticipate for next year’s theme of “Journey”?: I could expect an art installation there, as well. The part I enjoyed the most was hearing the artists talk about their personal journeys to the installations they presented.