One of the blessings in my life is the opportunity to collaborate with Cynthia Winton-Henry in the leadership of what we have come to call the InterFaith Dance Chapel! We gather two different times each week, generally with two different groups of people -although sometimes people come twice in one week. We gather online! So we literally gather from around the world -Germany, Australia. Hong Kong, and many places in the United States. We tell stories together! We laugh together! We cry together! We move together! We support and encourage each other to dive deep into our own truth, to honor our own body wisdom, to call forth the best of who we are and who we can be. We use an amazing form of embodied prayer drawn from the InterPlay form called Dancing on Behalf Of. What we have discovered is that this form of prayer goes deeper than the words we might say and cuts across the boundaries of faith traditions and honors the presence of the Spirit in the depth of each and every soul.
This dance chapel is a place of honesty and deep respect. It is a place where we can come as we are with the knowledge and the hope that we will, in some way, be blessed because we have gathered.
Today, was such an amazingly powerful experience that I feel compelled to try to put into words what I experienced!
We began with an embodied and spoken prayer honoring the wisdom and the gifts of the North, the East, the South and the West. Then we moved through a time of warming up our bodies and allowing the our movement to awaken us in the very depths of our souls.
Then we shared stories! We shared stories of the excitement of discovering more about the artist within and the joy of painting with our hands. Stories of the difficulty of being patient while our bodies healed more slowly than we would like. Stories of walking together inside a building because it was too cold to walk outside and discovering the holiness of sharing with others moments of grief and laughter. We shared stories of cats pissing in anger on walls and furniture because it was too cold to be outside and the discovery of our shadow and our own ability to act in anger and in that recognition, the sudden awareness that, more than we want to admit, we are like others we might disparage because of their violent behaviors. We shared stories of the tears that came while riding Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride, because when we look around the world it seems that too many of us have forgotten that there is “so much that we share, that its time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all”. We shared stories of the pain experienced by the violence in the world and the fear we experience as we listen to plans for the “new administration in the United States”. We shared stories of accompanying one who is dying and stories of the desire to move and live from the core of who we are. We shared stories of hope for a new home and hope for a more loving, more humane world. Stories, stories, stories.
As we shared our stories, I shared a bit of wisdom I gleaned from an e-mail Cynthia sent: “Even when I’m not in the mood or numb, I practice patterns of the behaviors I want, so that my body knows and feels it.” So to join in that practice of remembering, we danced! First we danced on behalf of one another -dances that were were filled with unbelievable power, compassion, love and grace! Then we closed by dancing to a beautiful version of the song, “What a Wonderful World”! It was joyful and powerful. As we reached our hands out toward one another, laughing and blowing kisses and as we blessed ourselves and one another, I felt the Spirit move through my body with deep reassurance! I also felt the re-kindling of the flame of light and love, the flame of grace and beauty, the flame of wonder and connection that smolders deep in the heart of my soul and all of life! I felt alive! I felt joy! I felt a deep hope that is sprung from a wisdom beyond my own.
As it was time to end, one of the participants put into words what I think we all were feeling, when she said “It’s so hard to go!” That it was! I wanted to stay there, connected to those people, filled with such grace and beauty, such honesty and love.
But go we finally did, renewed, refreshed and embodying the peace and love, the grace and the hope we have for our world and all its inhabitants!