Fall Transition

As a former teacher, September rather than January, spelled new beginnings and it is hard to break that association. However, nature seems at odds with this sense of new beginnings as she starts her preparation for winter. As September proceeds, the fullness of summer begins to wane, flowers and foliage wither and fade. The gathering of the harvest grain begins. The days grow shorter. The birds prepare to fly south. Animals gather food for hibernation. I love this season with the cooler weather, the sparkle of frost on the grass, the scarves of mist that slither over the fields in a blue dusk and of course the blaze of sunset colours that carpet the forest floor. Fall is a relatively short season of transition into the dark days of winter but if we look at Fall as part of a cycle and not a season in its own right, the feeling of new beginnings is not so odd, for all transitions are part and parcel of the cycle of endings and beginnings.

Transitions are part of a path to a new beginning at whatever level we experience it. The task is to let go of what must die in order to open up new growth within and without our world. Fall is a wonderful time to pause and reflect, to drink in the beauty of the falling leaves and trust the dying and loss we see and feel all around us. The falling leaf and the new budding are but one moment in time. If we allow it, the splendour of the season reminds us that death and life are one and loss and grief are an inescapable part of everyone’s experience. As the tree sheds its old foliage and undergoes a stripping down to core, we know that this is not the end of the story for come spring, the new leaves will re-emerge in a splendour of translucent green. Under the ground, in the darkess and silence of winter’s seeming death, new life is already stirring. There is no death, only the appearance and perhaps the colours of Fall are shouting this message to a despairing world.

Creativity

There was never a time when creativity was more desperately needed than today. Creativity, intuition, spirituality. They are all aspects of the one energy which informs our world. When our innate creativity is denied or suppressed it tends to erupt in its shadow form, wreaking havoc and destruction.

What then is creativity? It is simply the divine spark of life energy within us all which desires to manifest. This impulse to expression is not the prerogative of specialists and artistic experts only nor is creativity confined to the expressive arts, though the arts are a sublime expression of the creative impulse. All people hold this gift  but unfortunately we do very little to encourage the young to find this gift within themselves and in each other. To be human is to be an artist for it is a participation in the vibrant energy of life itself. Life is proliferate and generous and invites us into the creative dance of opposites. Life calls to life, exploring its own magnificence and experimenting with myriad creative expressions at every level of our existence.

Creativity must be nourished if it is to develop and grow. When the focus is on entering fully into the process, our artistic endeavors produce wonders. Creation is a deeply spiritual act and the artist must practise the art of surrendering fully to the process. Eventually the song will begin to sing us, the story will write us and the wood carving will pull our spirit in.

Song of the Woodcarver

I caress you gently with my hands

and feel the ancient heartbeat of the wood;

a legacy in bark and bole that sang

a history from the start of time until

the humming saw with violence came

and cut you down in pieces to be sold

away from sun and wind and rain

and seasons passing tale within your spine.

Now upon my bench

you lie inert and still, waiting for

the healing stroke of carving tools

pulling to light the poem within your grain

setting the spirit free for all to see.

I cut and chip and smooth in a synergy

of dancing wood that soothes my soul

and lifts me to another world

where creator and creation blend

together into one

and sing a song of wood.

 

 

Going Into The Forest

Someone once said that adventures don’t begin until we “get into the forest.” Going into the forest is a metaphor for stepping off the beaten track and taking a risk to follow one’s bliss. It is the road less traveled that will take the traveler who knows where.  The woods can be dark or pooled with light. The forest can be wet or gently moist and smelling of the richness of the earth. It can also be tinder dry and brittle, erupting without warning into a fiery inferno. The forest hides a myriad of animal and insect life. It can be a safe place or hold many unsuspecting hazards. One must listen attentively in the forest and re-train the clogged city ears. But ultimately, the forest is a place of rich adventure, only available to those who are willing and have the courage and wisdom necessary to step off the beaten path and discover the secrets lying hidden in its depths.

Listen to the Forest

Listen to the singing of the rain, listen to its drumbeat in the fields,

Listen ’til you feel the cleanse of tears,

Then your Soul will come dancing unto you.

Listen to the soughing of the wind, listen to its rocking in the trees,

Listen ’til you feel the touch of love,

Then your Soul will come dancing unto you.

Listen to the running of the streams, listen to the music of its song.

Listen ’til you feel the energy shift,

Then your Soul will come dancing unto you.

Listen to the murmur of the night, listen to the shout of breaking morn,

Listen ’til you feel the circle turn,

Then your Soul will come dancing unto you.

Listen to the wisdom of your heart, listen to the spiralling call of soul,

Listen ’til you feel that you are one

With your Soul who comes dancing unto you,

With your Soul who comes dancing unto you.

 

 

Dance as Meditation

Someone once said to me “A bird can sing with a broken wing but not a broken heart.” And what about us? Can we dance or sing when the body is whole but the heart is not? I believe we can because song and dance are a medium of the heart’s stirrings but also a medium by which that same heart is healed and made whole again.

When I dance as a form of meditation, I experience not only the soaring ecstasy of the bird’s flight but also the tumbling dive experienced by Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (Jonathan Livingstone Seagull – Richard Bach) which left him bruised and bewildered. Both the heights and depths touch upon the Divine with me.

The movements of the dance symbolize this two-fold rhythm by which I am transformed. My feet are firmly grounded on the earth, while my body stretches upward and outward. The pattern and variety of the dance necessitates always a return to the earth before flowing out again to a different physical level. As the weaving shape of my body flows in time and space, I touch upon my truest centre where God is and my spirit is stilled.

Like Jonathan, who felt the stirrings of something new striving to be born within him, for a long time I danced alone. Perhaps my experience is best articulated in the words of the lyrics of Neil Diamond which describes Jonathan’s creative vision.

…And we dance to a whispered voice/Overheard by the soul/Undertook by the heart…

The dance is of itself, like all creative expression, a journey toward our centre. It is a dangerous journey because it takes me not only into the ecstasy of the skies but deep into the dark underground places of my own alienations where the spirit is remoulded and made new. Because it is a spiritual journey, the dance is a transformative force and must of necessity, spiral out again into the human circle. There I reconnect in compassion to all that is and a sense of responsibility and commitment is born. The gift must be breathed out again into the universe in gratitude, birthing beauty and calling to life the Divine within the other. Jonathan passed on his gift because it belonged, not to him alone, but to the whole flock. So he exhorted his pupil “…Night bird find your way/for none may know it just as you may/seek out your harbour of light/let your song be heard…” (Richard Bach)

Sacred meditation dance is a special mode of this expression. Every dance expresses a spiritual essence hidden within an outer form. The dance seeks to shape the dancer’s own inner reality, while at the same time, communicating this reality. Together we create a sacred space wherein the Divinity is touched. In this sacred space, we look together into the well of our being and find reflected there the image of God.

 

I Hope You’ll Dance…

We all know the story of Chicken Little. She stands under a tree and gets bonked on the head by an acorn. Off she goes running across the farmyard screaming in panic,”The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” It doesn’t take long before the news spreads and farmyard animals start asking why she is running in such panic. Can’t they see the sky is falling!

“How do you know the sky is falling?”

” Are you blind? Can’t you see the bump on my head!”  And so with that bit of clear evidence, the story spreads. Drama is great fun, so the story goes viral on Farmyard Facebook and Farmyard Twitter (not the birds). Soon Chicken Little is leading an entourage of panicked animals focused on letting the Big Boss know of the terrible danger approaching. He will surely rescue them from this calamity. That’s what Big Bosses are for, isn’t it? Of course we know the end of the story: the fear and  unthinking, unquestioning acceptance of this bit of sensational news leads the animals right into the maw of the wily fox who has a Masters in manipulation from the University of Exploitation. He knows how to feed into this panic and fear and keep his belly full.

Then there is the story of Zorba the Greek. He is a feisty, irreverent, gregarious workman, who links up with an uptight (and no doubt politically correct) English man who has come to Crete to take up an inherited business. A salt of the earth type of human being, Alexis Zorba surrenders with passion to whatever life throws at him, both good and bad. He copes by surrendering to the dance with mind and body and soul. In the final scene, both Greek and English man see their dreams come literally hurtling down the mountain in a spectacular, thundering, catastrophic crash. The English man, devastated, asks Zorba to teach him to dance in the face of this loss and so he does. That is how the story ends in joy and surrender to what is.

These two stories are two different perspectives on how we can deal with the darkness of life’s tragedies. Zorba’s dance is both a physical and emotional release but also a creative response to disaster. No-one escapes pain or struggle in life but how we perceive difficult events will influence our experience  of those events. Zorba celebrated life, the whole of it, not just the easy comfortable bits because both as essential. If our perspective of life is based solely on the daily diet of disasters presented by the media, then we miss out on the glorious richness and colour of life’s dance.

There is no doubt about it, chaos abounds in our world and we would be naive indeed to pretend otherwise. But chaos has a purpose at an individual, national and international level. This purpose is to raise our awareness and  wake us up to what needs to change. We are living in a time of massive social transformation. As a species, we are undergoing a profound paradigm shift, as old ways of being are challenged and new paradigms take root in our world. Change, evolution,and creativity are usually preceded by some level of chaos, causing fear of the Chicken Little variety. But there is no need to fear because the Universe knows what it is doing. We are all evolving whether we like it or not. It’s inevitable. In unsettling times of transition, a strong spirituality can strengthen and guide us and keep us steady on the bumpy ride. Add a dollop of humour to that to add a little extra richness to the experience. Every  trial and tribulation is a challenge thrown down by God, (your Higher Self, your Soul, the Universe, whatever you want to call it ) to become our essential selves, to let go of fear based Chicken Little thinking (The terrorists are coming! The terrosists are coming! ) and live in love. What happens in the world is influenced by what happens within each of us. I can’t stop terrorism but I can rid my own heart of hatred and intolerance by word and deed. Each act of love adds to the critical mass and that is how the world is changed.

We have a choice. Will we screech in fear that the sky is falling or will be dance with passionate involvement in the richnessness of the life we have been given. I hope you’ll dance.

 

Lakeside Reflection

I like to walk on a summer eve along the shore

and listen to the chord of life

that swells with the lapping of lake water.

It centres and grounds me,

connecting me to the heartbeat of this great land,

to the joy of the now which shimmers

like the evening light upon the lake,

moving from moment to moment with the swell

before vanishing suddenly,

into descending dusk.

But the heart remembers the light,

the Transcendent indwelling

in the muddiness of our lives,

glimpsed only in silence and

veiled from those wedded to

the noise and competitive grind

of an unforgiving world.