Abraham Jam

Last Saturday night, a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian walked into a Masonic Temple

They proceeded to walk up to the stage and they each picked up an instrument. Each, in his turn, began to play music that they had each written.

It was music that opened the heart, touch the soul, and brought half of a full house to tears.

I’d like to introduce to you Abraham Jam:


Abraham Jam: Billy Jonas, Dawud Wharnsby, David LaMotte Photograph and Copyright Amy Halperin 2017 (used by permission)


These three men, each successful musicians in their own right, have embraced the concept that it takes a village to raise children who are aware, compassionate and kind to others.  They all three are living a life full of diversity, as well as fantastic music.  They do perform together in Abraham Jam, but each have solo careers.  Billy Jonas and David LaMotte are also authors.


Each recognizes the power of the others’ religion, and the validity and value of the diverse paths they walk, side by side.  Together, they represent the three peoples of the book, and walk — and sing — the talk of diversity, inclusion and brotherly love.

Diversity is exactly the concept that world leaders want to push to the back of their agendas, now.  The concept of an exclusionary, ethno-centric government is what is being brought to the forefront.  Exclusionary governments teach millions of people not to care about “the other”.

These three talented, loving men teach the opposite:  caring about each other; learning about and from each other is the goal, purpose and higher order of living.


I’d like to share a very short story:

When the bus driver on Rosa Parks’ bus threatened to call the police, and have her arrested, her exact words in response were, “you may do that.”  There is such power in these few words — claiming her own dignity and acknowledging that each of them had choices to make in that moment, and that those choices would have consequences.  That’s true for all of us.

–from the liner notes of David LaMotte’s album “The Other Way Around”


My belief is that we must have eco-diversity for Mother Earth to survive, because all forms of nature need each other.  Even we need the other forms of life.

As human beings, we also need diversity.  We need each other, despite having different ways to love; different ways to worship; different views on education; living in different locales and environments; living in different countries.  Whatever the differences, how seemingly major, however actually slight,  choosing to have different friends, friends who are different from you, is a powerful choice.  You may do that.  And if you do that, the world will become a better place — more peaceful, more harmonious.  More Whole.

My hope is that you will constantly open your ears, your heart and your mind to the concept of diversity, and that you will seek it in your own life, every day.









Night Time in the Day

Today, the United States saw a total eclipse of the sun from Oregon to South Carolina.

Here in Asheville, we are not on the path of totality, but we’re at about 99%, and my sister, Amy, and I chose to stay local, and spend the time at the North Carolina Arboretum.

It was a beautiful day and an amazing experience.  The sky this morning was clear and Carolina Blue, but as the day went on and the time of the eclipse came closer, the clouds started moving in.  We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to see the eclipse, but when it started, the clouds were there, but not blocking the sun.

Neither Amy nor I had ever seen a full eclipse before, and I don’t think that either of us will ever forget it.  As the moon began to cover the sun, I noticed that the birds and insects, usually very vocal at the Arboretum, became silent, and the world seemed, to me, to grow more peaceful with each second as the moon moved further across the sun.

For a few moments, twilight fell in the middle of the day, and the shadows became deeper and somehow more magical.  The animals went still in the forest and the gardens, the birds held their songs still, it was as if all nature stopped and, for that moment or two, just watched and waited.

From our location, there was just a sliver of sun left and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, that tiny slice of light trying to break away from the darkness.

As the moon moved off the sun, the light in the gardens seemed somehow different, almost ethereal, and tinged the leaves with a light such as I have never seen before.

It was truly an amazing experience.

The clouds moved in, and we were unable to see the moon’s retreat, but watching the eclipse is a moment I will cherish all my life.

Those of you who know me are, by now, well aware that I am photographer, and of course I took photographs today.

I hope you enjoy them.




The Eclipse Begins
Photograph and Copyright by Amy Halperin 2017 used by permission


25 % gone
Photograph and Copyright Amy Halperin 2017 used by permission


99% eclipse, through the trees
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017


99% Eclipse
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017


Night in the daytime
Photograph and Copy right Barbara Mattio 2017


The sun starts to return
Photograph and Copy right Barbara Mattio 2017


Here’s a little something to welcome back the Sun after the Eclipse:



Last evening, I attended a Tony Bennett concert on the Biltmore Estate. It was a magical evening set on the South lawn of the house. As my friends and I sat in the audience, the mountains rose and the sky was lit with color. It was a wonderful experience of music, nostalgia and beauty. My desire is to share some of that with all of you.




The Stage

The people

The murmur

People settling

Bandstand is erect waiting

in anticipation.

Audience shuffling, moving


over right shoulder

Another Show

spectacular in beauty

Mountains in repose

intense sunset lighting sky —

Reds, oranges, yellows

The Bandstand —

The notes, rich music fills ears

As color fill eyes.

A voice, his voice. Amazing

His voice rises up

Transports listeners

Back, back to another time

Perhaps a more

innocent period

Big Band, Band Leader


Men, women dance

away evenings

Some fall —

in and out of love.

Music fills ears

Color fills eyes


He sings. He sings at 91.

His voice rises up —

He is enjoying himself

And happy to be alive!

—Poem and Photographs Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017

Biltmore House
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017


Tony Bennett with Pianist and Guitarist
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017



Tony Bennett with Pianist and Guitarist
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017


Tony Bennett with drummer, guitarist and bassist
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017


Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017


Sunset with Mountains
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017


Biltmore After Dark
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017


Biltmore after Dark
Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017






Beautiful Sights

A little over a week ago my sister and I took a day trip to Linville gorge and falls. It was a beautiful day. I left my cane at home and took my hiking sticks. It was some rough walking for me however I was able to get some great photographs which I am going to share with you. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. I really appreciate it.








Not as overwhelming as Niagara Falls but still very powerful. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


There are two falls separated by a rock wall. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


water tumbling over the rocks. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017



Linville Falls. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


Sun over the path. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


Surrounded by mountains. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


Ferns along the trail. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017



Mountain vista. photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017




Water flowing. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


Mountainside. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017



Water flowing among the rocks. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


Wild Orchard
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


The Linville Gorge, North Carolina
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017


A view of Grandfather Mountain from the Linville Gorge area.
Copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017

Reach up to the Sky

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017

Reach up to the Sky

The sky was Carolina Blue

Sun rays chase

butterflies and bees

Wind sweeps mountains and forests

Wind dances and flutters

through the trees

Carrying Nature’s fragrance

to the bees.

Off to see the Gorge and Falls

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017

Can’t grasp the Beauty

all at once

Mountains, virgin forests,

gorge, clean air

Lens to eye – must capture it

Mountains, forests,

Lush greenery.

Hawks sail over gorge

Riding wind

Fresh water flowing

Amongst the boulders

Deer drinking – listening…

listening to humans

Far away


Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017

Picturesque, tumbling

Flowing over rock

Hush…hear the water

in its journey

along to the

next falls

Sun warms skin – insects buzz on trail

Stop along the way

to put lens to eye

Many trees posing for



Feel the loving energy

Lift up arms to sky

Be one with all of Life…

Reach up and grab your

piece of the sky

Your piece of all that is

strong and good.

Reach up and respect all Life

We come from the same

Star dust

Reach up to the sky and

in gratitude bless

All the life

Around you.

copyright 2017 Barbara Mattio

The Story of a River

Hello, everyone!

I’ve just finished a class in bio-diversity and the result of that is the following story that I wrote.  I hope you all enjoy it.

I wish you a very pleasant end to your week and weekend.


Namaste, Barbara


The Story of a River

by Barbara Mattio

Copyright 2017


I am a river. Well, I am the spirit of a river. They call me the French Broad River. I am as old as the mountains; older even. I think that the mountains, the ancient trees, the sky, Mother Earth and myself have a very deep connection. I don’t know for sure but we all have seem to always been here. Maybe we are as old as Time. Yet there are many other kinds of life around us. I have many friends here. Some are here for a season and some come and go for several seasons like the birds.

I am known as a rebel among other rivers; you see, I flow from South to North. I have confused more than one creature, even human beings. I flow in the south of this big land mass. I remember how quiet it used to be. My companions were the mighty bear, the deer, and the elk. The hawks and eagles soared high above me and I could hear them call out to one another. I could hear the rabbits and squirrels scampering amongst the trees. I could hear it all because there was no other sound except for the wind; the wind, which carried the hawk in his search for food. Sometimes, the hawk would swoop down and catch a fish swimming within my banks. They never failed to stop and murmur hello to me. I cherish the memory of those sounds. I hear them less often now. There are several eagles who fly along my river bed and always greet me and I look forward to their greetings everyday.

The wind has always been a welcome companion, its currents gently touching my surface on a hot summer’s day. Other times, the wind’s icy fingers touch my surface and chill me completely, but I always know spring will follow eventually.

During a rain storm, I can feel the wind’s energy pick up and the gusts sweep across me as it warns of the visit of a coming storm. I can hear the branches and twigs of my friends, the trees, rub together as the wind gusts through their tall trunks. They make a kind of moaning and groaning sound that accompanies the wind gusts in a melancholy little dirge.

When rain does visit me, I can feel each individual drop hitting my surface, often gently, and at other times like the anger at the heart of Gaea. (I do not exaggerate, Mother Earth has much to be angry at. She has become ill lately and she struggles to recover her previous vitality and ability to heal.) The storms don’t mean to hurt; there is just sometimes more energy that comes with them than other times. Soft rains or drenching storms, they fill my riverbed with the water that all my friends need for life. During a storm, thunder and lightning come to visit also. They are very noisy friends. But they boom and zigzag across the sky and I do love to watch a storm and so do the fish who live within my banks.

I flow energetically to the north, watching animals large and small. Why, just the other day, I saw a wolf take down a fawn for her pups to eat… I think it was the other day. Life flows along my river banks. The rabbits hop about and the squirrels and chipmunks race around looking for the nuts they buried last year. The raccoons wash their hands and food in my water. A baby snapping turtle meandered up to my banks just today and I was thrilled to see the little guy. A black bear came ambling out of the forest but he doesn’t like to eat turtles. The little guy did go into his shell just to be sure. That old bear and I had fun talking about the old days here in the Appalachian Mountains. He tells me stories his grandfather bear told to him. He did ask me if I knew of any good honey in these parts as he had walked here from farther down South. I gave him a couple of suggestions. I think he will be enjoying some honey later on today. The baby turtle quietly came back out of his shell and scurried away. Ha. Well, he hurried as much as he could and, boy, did he have a story to tell his friends. A family of river

Otters found their way into my waters recently. I hadn’t seen a family of them in quite awhile. It was good to see this family. They seem very happy and content.

Life flows within my banks also. There are fish and algae and some forms of life that I cannot see, but know they depend on me for their existence. Along my banks are lichen, moss, algae, fungi and others who live because they need my waters.
I touch many lives as I flow on my journey North. Often, fox and rabbits come and drink from me, as do others, receiving life and cooling water to enjoy as their journey continues. They are always busy going somewhere. The deer and rabbits are good friends and seem to enjoy romping in and out of the forest and once or twice a rabbit has fallen into my water. That always is a good laugh. They aren’t swimmers like the beavers are. Oh, the beavers. Good swimmers and always building dams. I tell them not to bottle me up but they just seem to have to do it. It must be like the trees have to shed their leaves every autumn.
One of my companions in this ever increasingly noisy world is the trees. Some of my friends, the trees, have known me as long as I have been here. It is satisfying to have old friends gather around you. The trees live along my banks and form forests and live upon the mountain slopes. As I flow along, sometimes swirling, sometimes slowly meandering, I hear their greetings brought to me on the breath of the wind. It is comforting to hear them all along my way through the mountains.
I often consult my tree friends when I am confused about time. Sometimes it is difficult to decide if spring has actually arrived. Sometimes it will feel like spring has arrived, but it is a trick.

The trees always have the right answer. They seem to remember when it has come before. They grow leaves at the right time and shed them at the right time. I find this to be handy.

I really enjoy the song birds. They come to catch worms on my banks and ask if I want to hear a song. Then they sing for me as I flow along. It makes for a very happy day just flowing and listening to the happy songs of the birds until they become hungry from following me and fly off to find worms.

My favorite time is when the frogs, toads, dragonflies and butterflies come to play on my shores. They skip around playing a form of tag. When twilight arrives, the frogs and toads call out to catch a gal for the evening. I love to listen and watch this whole mating concert. In early summer, the lightning bugs join in and we have the concert and the flickering lights. It makes for very enjoyable evenings.

Today, I am enjoying the sunshine and the blue skies. These human beings who have arrived have brought much noise with them, actually if I am to be completely truthful, they have brought most of it. The noise didn’t arrive all at once, and I don’t exactly remember when it started, but there is a lot of constant noise, now. I don’t know if it will continue to grow. It bothers the trees, the fish, the animals and the birds. And me, of course.

It is quieter at night and I flow beneath a sky lit by the stars and the moon that have been there as long as I can remember. I have asked the oldest tree, a very gnarled and tall guy who lives by a bend in my path; he is a tulip popular and stands 100 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter and has a huge crown, I think he is very wise; I ask if he remembers a time when stars and moon weren’t in the sky, and he does not. I wonder if there was time when only the stars, the moon and I lived here among the mountains. Sometimes I wish the mountains could speak so I could ask them. I know they would have the answer. There was probably a time when we all did live quietly together and there were few of my other friends here. They must have begun to arrive slowly after that. I do remember that there was a gradual increase of life here in the mountains. And…there has been a gradual decrease of life too. But it is improving. Yes, it is improving. Like my new visitor the black bear who wondered up here from the South. He told me there are more families of bear where he came from.

I always think of the mountains as the strong sentinels that protect the rest of us from dangerous storms and things we don’t even know about. They are always silent and proud. They watch me as I flow by and they protect the trees and the animals. The large birds, like the falcons and hawks, often fly from majestic pinnacle to majestic pinnacle. It is quite a sight to see. It always thrills me.

While we live here well together, these humans don’t seem to understand us well. Since their arrival, many of my friends become sick more often. Many die. This sadness is felt by all of us. The humans don’t seem to care that they make us sick. I don’t know why that is…can’t they see all of us suffering? Can’t they see my water droplets looking peaked? The animals don’t have as many babies as they used to, and the birds don’t sing as often. It may not seem important, but these things are important to all of us the members of the natural world. We rely on each other and our communication with each other. The air is not as sweet to breathe as it once was. My waters are not as clean. I worry about the trees and animals that depend on my water. A river can’t die, can it?

It has rained for two days up in the mountains and water is flowing down the mountainsides. All of that beautiful water is running into my riverbed. As the sun moves towards dusk, I see a barred owl fly by. I am sure he is hungry and about to hunt for his favorite for his favorite dinner, shrews and bats. I wish him good luck for his hunting. Darkness descends and the crickets sound off. The frogs and toads begin their mating song. Later on as I pass by the forests and the mountains, the barred owl, with his full stomach, settles on a tree branch and we begin to share stories of long ago times. It is a satisfying way to spend a night.

Sunrise and sunset are my favorite times of day. Life changes and everyone comes out to great one another and to do a little frolicking. It is now sunset and I like to gaze at the horizon and watch the sensational display created by Mother Earth. Dead center on the horizon, there stands in silhouette a mammoth elk. He has a huge rack that he wears with pride. He has earned these antlers by surviving hundreds of predator attacks over the years. Now he stands strong, regal, and brave watching the day slide into the night.

Today humans are floating on my waters. They are laughing and talking a lot. They have built these things that float on my water. It tickles a little. I must say this contact I enjoy with humans. I like hearing them laugh. It is a tinkling sound that I hadn’t heard before. They also get in these floating things and sit out on my water very quietly. They stick poles into the water and sometimes they lift the pole up and one of the fish is on the end of it. I think they will eat it. That is part of life though.
When I first observed human beings, they walked everywhere or used horses, then they made ribbons of gray on the earth and rode in boxes upon wheels. Now it seems they can go anywhere. I suppose the noise is everywhere, too. I know, I talk about noise too much, but it bothers a lot of us. It actually scares many of the animals. It probably isn’t going to get quiet again. Oh well.

The humans build dwellings to live in which are very different from the caves and nests built by other kinds of life. Their habitats use many resources that won’t be easily replaced. To me, it seems like a waste. You never see them living in a tree or under a bush.

Tonight, we will meet as we did of old, and forget the noise and the humans. We will meet under the night sky; mountains, forests, river, animals, birds, fungi, lichen, algae, and little bits of life I cannot see; we will celebrate our lives and how well our lives fit together and how our diversity makes our Mother Earth a richer, healthier place for all to live. The moon and stars will mark the occasion with their crystal light as all of nature meets at my river banks on the full moon of celebration.
We always have gathered together on the full moon. It is glorious to see the moon and the stars shining and as everyone nuzzles each other or sounds out their greetings to others to know that we are all the same. We fit together so well and we help each other as we go along in our lives. We are all star dust. This is what deeply connects us all here in nature. It is a fact that I love. I love how everyone comes together regularly and my banks are filled with creatures ready to celebrate our timeless ritual. I am not sure what the humans would call our ritual, but we just call it the full moon. I can feel the moon pulling upon my waters. It doesn’t hurt me but it gives me a feeling of being very full. We are together until the dawn begins to rise over the horizon. Then, sleepily, everyone begins to go back to their homes. I slowly meander to the North. I like to go over the events of the night and I am never in a hurry on my way North on this one day. For this one day, I simply enjoy the memories of our coming together and I am happy to see that more creatures have begun to arrive at my banks. This is very good. Perhaps some of the things humans have begun to do have made it easier for some kinds of life to grow more and to become more populous.

Oh look, there is a clump of wildflowers. I like flowers but I like them best because as I flow along, they smell so good. They make such fun companions. They dance and bow and bend their heads and their perfume fills the air with every movement. A skunk just sniffed a bright orange flower and sneezed repeatedly. He should know better.

But I am moving along and there are so many creatures to see on my way and I think that the beavers have been building again. My left bank on the upper part of my journey feels full. Time to check on what is happening. Oh, does and fawns are crossing to the other side. I can feel them walking on my river bottom. It is a strange feeling. Strange but not unwelcome. Now when the bears go charging through, I really feel that.

But it is all life. It is our life. It is the life that the mountains, trees, animals, flowers, stars, birds and all of nature share.