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A Place for Sanctuary. Daily Dose. (Aug 16 -19)

Tuesday — This week let us embrace the invitation to dance.
“Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laughter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?” Eugene O’Neill

I think of dance (and music) as a part of our immune system for a healthy heart and soul and spirit. They create a space for engagement, or more precisely, reengagement. I do know that I can let down my guard, my armor, which helps me (allows me) to remember and embrace a tender heart, and the capacity to embrace connection, empathy and compassion. All of which is alive and well inside. These are gifts that we have forgotten, or gifts that are too easily buried by the weight of the world.

Watching my son dance, reminded me of a Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760) story. The founder of the Chassidic movement, the Rabbi was asked: “Why is it that Chassidim burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation? Is this the behavior of a healthy, sane individual?”
The Baal Shem Tov responded with a story: Once, a musician came to town–a musician of great but unknown talent. He stood on a street corner and began to play. Those who stopped to listen could not tear themselves away, and soon a large crowd stood enthralled by the glorious music whose equal they had never heard. Before long they were moving to its rhythm, and the entire street was transformed into a dancing mass of humanity.
A deaf man walking by wondered: Has the world gone mad? Why are the townspeople jumping up and down, waving their arms and turning in
circles in middle of the street?
“Chassidim,” concluded the Baal Shem Tov, “are moved by the melody that issues forth from every creature in God’s creation. If this makes them appear mad to those with less sensitive ears, should they therefore cease to dance?”  

Today, it’s not that we “choose” to dance, so much as we “choose” to give up being afraid.  We give up being afraid by responding to this melody—or love of the Beloved, the voice of Grace—that tells us we are more than our labels.  Our dance is the interplay with that voice.  Because we are enough, our hearts are alive.

Frederick Buechner died today at 96. Writer, storyteller, theologian. His work significantly imprinted my journey and ministry from the time I started seminary. His light spilled. I’ll give him the final word… “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

Wednesday — This week we continue to embrace the invitation to dance. 

Have you seen the documentary, War Dance?  I recommend it.
The film centers on three children—Rose, a 13-year-old singer; Nancy, a 14-year-old dancer; and Dominic, a 14-year-old xylophone player.
The children are members of the Acholi ethnic group, living in the remote northern Uganda refugee camp under military protection from the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group that has been rebelling against the government for the past two decades.
In 2005, the camp’s primary school won its regional music competition and headed to Kampala to participate in the annual National Music Competition which included performing the Bwola, the dance of the Acholi. Over the course of three months, the film’s creative team observes the three youngsters as they prepare for the event and gain their confidence enough to have them discuss the horrors they have experienced and express their individual fears, hopes, and dreams.
Fourteen year old Nancy says, “When I dance my problems vanish. The camp is gone. I can feel the wind. I can feel the fresh air, I am free and I can feel my home. I feel proud to be an Acholi when I dance. You have to be fearless, like a warrior. In my heart, I am more than a child of war. I am talented. I am a musician. I am Acholi.”

In a world heavy and uncertain, more than ever, dance and music are an essential part of our immune system for a healthy heart and soul and spirit. For hopes and dreams. They create a space for engagement, or more precisely, reengagement. I do know that I can let down my guard, my armor, which helps me (allows me) to remember and embrace a tender heart, and the capacity to embrace connection, empathy and compassion. All of which is alive and well inside. These are gifts that we have forgotten, or gifts that are too easily buried.

Let’s give St. Catherine of Siena the last word; and take it to heart…
I won’t take no for an answer,
God began to say
to me
when He opened His arms each night
wanting us to
dance.

Thursday — This week we continue to embrace the invitation to dance. Or, in the words of the Hopi Indian Saying, “To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.”

In the desert of New Mexico, in a beautiful home with huge doors open to the outside, Native American musician Ronald Roybal talks with a gathered group of pastors. As he talks, he plays hauntingly beautiful music. He tells them about how missionaries came to his people and how his people received the story of Jesus, absorbing the story into their understanding. He tells the group that Native Americans believe that God gives every creature a dance. The eagle has an eagle dance, the bear a bear dance, the scorpion a scorpion dance, and so forth. However, over the years, we human beings had forgotten our dance. So, we dance the dance of other animals, because we do not know our own. Jesus, however, knew our “human” dance and came to teach us the dance again.

I Praise The Dance
I praise the dance,
for it frees people from the heaviness of matter
and binds the isolated to community.
I praise the dance, which demands everything:
health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul.
Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people,
who are in constant danger of becoming all brain,
will, or feeling.
Dancing demands a whole person,
one who is firmly anchored in the center of his life,
who is not obsessed by lust for people and things
and the demon of isolation in his own ego
Dancing demands a freed person,
one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers.
I praise the dance.
O man, learn to dance,
or else the angels in heaven will not know
what to do with you.
(Author Unknown)

Friday —

“Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does anything weird,
But the God who knows only four words.
And keeps repeating them, saying:
‘Come dance with me, come dance.’”
Hafiz (translation by Daniel Ladinsky)

This week we’ve continued to embrace the invitation to dance.
A doorway that invites wholeheartedness. Life is about being conscious, and we reconnect with our heart embracing and welcoming what is already there. You see, in that soft heart (tenderness, humility, gentleness, kindness, empathy, connection) there is the gift of wholeness and sufficiency.
As a writer, I see poetry as dance using a pen. It makes me smile even thinking about it. And I love this from Kim Rosen.
“There is a paradoxical urgency at this time in history to slowing down, focusing on what matters, looking into each other’s eyes and speaking the truth. Poetry is essential to communicating the truth of the heart, the depth of the soul.”
So yes… Wholehearted.

The Celtic church had a word for such moments (doorways). They called them thin places. “A thin place is anywhere our hearts are opened,” writes Marcus Borg. “They are places where the boundary between the two levels becomes very soft, porous, permeable. Thin places are places where the veil momentarily lifts and we behold (the ‘ahaah of The Divine’) all around us and in us.”
Here’s the deal: When we see with our heart, it’s no longer about protecting myself from life, but from letting (or allowing) more of life in. And, if we do–just for a moment–we may find ourselves (in the words of Henry Miller) living aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.

I’ve been gratefully spending the week remembering Frederick Buechner. And rereading some of his writing, much of it for me, “thin places.” So, we’ll give him the final word today. “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
John O’Donohue

Friday —

Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
John O’Donohue

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