Shall we begin with a collective sigh? It’s been a rough week. . . . .in a year of excruciatingly rough weeks. Our world is burning. The sky is no longer the bright blue we’re used to, but is instead varying shades of ashen gray or deep & eerie orange. The horrible air quality prevents us from going outside. It’s uncomfortable to breathe this air. And that’s on the fortunate side of the equation. There’s been so much destruction, loss, and terrifying evacuations. I saw a mention on Facebook of a reminder to really consider where all that ash falling around us comes from; it’s the burning trees, the destroyed homes & businesses, the ashes of animals—both beloved domesticated ones and wild animals as well. Gently and reverently scoop up a bit of that ash and honor it, make a home for it on your altar. That ash represents what is lost and what has been loved.
This morning I danced with Lori Saltzman and the Open Floor group (via zoom, of course). Lori read the gorgeous Reciprocal Rhythm poem below, which is all about the necessity to weave a web of loving kindness together (all of us). To illustrate the point, she asked that we each “pin” someone else (without that same person pinning us) and then dance for that person, dance to that person and send them loving kindness and the wish for well-being. This was our way of weaving the web that will hold us all together, supporting each other, loving each other. The dance filled my heavy heart. This is what we do together in the dance: we find a way to be there for each other in good times and in bad. With gestures both large and small, we offer love, presence, and compassion.
I’m beyond thrilled to tell you that Kathy Altman will be our pilot tomorrow, leading us along a flight path that will surely be precisely what’s needed. We’ll be in good hands with Kathy and her beautiful wisdom, her generous spirit, her wonderful soundscape.
Here's the link: https://www.openfloordance.org/community-dances
There is a reciprocal rhythm. A flow between things. A velocity of reciprocity that builds a village, builds a dream, builds the world. For we are kin and kin means I need you, and you need me. And the sun. And the water. And the soil born of things long dead.
Most of us grew up in little boxes. Little boxes made of ticky-tacky. My house. Your house. My plate. Your plate. In the desert, there is one plate at dinner. One plate where we all tuck in, fingers first, food for all. I want that.
I want you to ask me for stuff. I want you to ask because asking is the kind of boldness we need. Tell me what you want and I come a little closer to you, and we dance. It’s not the yes or the no, but the asking that rocks the world to this rhythm. And the ticky-tacky begins to crumble, walls fall and we need each other all the more.
There is a reciprocal rhythm. Let me give you things. Don’t hold back your receiving, because it leaves us both bereft of the kinship that ties us, reminds us of our entwined-ness as ecological beings. I cannot. No. I will not survive without you. OK yes, some kind of half living but not the kind I’m worthy of. Not the kind you’re worthy of. And not the kind they are worthy of. Help me, not to fix but to fill the heart. Not to trade but to till the soil of inter-being that is all there has ever been.
There is a reciprocal rhythm and it’s not in 4-4 for it doesn’t follow straight lines. It’s a wild rhythm where I help you and you help her and she gets to stop and he gives all he has for love.
There is a reciprocal rhythm and it’s not in 4-4.
This is the bit from FB about the ashes. I don’t know who Sadee Whip is, but Sadee wrote this. I love the invitation and wanted to share it with you:
Do not forget that the ashes falling
from the sky are all that remains
of the pine and grass and thistle and bear
and coyote and deer and mouse
that could not escape.
Gather some up in a sacred manner.
Take it to your altar.
Offer prayer for these beings.
Honor their death.
Pray for life.
Call in rain.
Remind fire this it is full,
Has gobbled enough
And can rest.
May all being be safe.
May all beings be loved.
May all beings be remembered.
May all beings be mourned.
-by Sadee Whip
And yes, a third poem seems necessary sustenance on this evening:
Sometimes we are asked to stop and bear witness:
this,the elephants say to me in dreams
as they thunder through the passageways
of my heart, disappearing
into a blaze of stars. On the edge
of the 6th mass extinction, with species
vanishing before our eyes, we’d be a people
gone mad, if we did not grieve.
This unmet grief,
an elder tells me, is the root
of the root of the collective illness
that got us here. His people
stay current with their grief—
they see their tears as medicine—
and grief a kind of generous willingness
to simply see, to look loss in the eye,
to hold tenderly what is precious,
to let the rains of the heart fall.
In this way, they do not pass this weight on
in invisible mailbags for the next generation
to carry. In this way, the grief doesn’t build
and build like sets of waves, until,
at some point down the line—
it simply becomes an unbearable ocean.
We are so hungry when we are fleeing
our grief, when we are doing all
we can to distract ourselves
from the crushing heft of the unread
letters of our ancestors.
Hear us, they call. Hear us.
In my dreams, the elephants stampede
in herds, trumpeting, shaking the earth.
It is a kind of grand finale, a last parade
of their exquisite beauty. See us, they say.
We may not pass this way again.
What if our grief, given as a sacred offering,
is a blessing not a curse?
What if our grief, not hidden away in corners,
becomes a kind of communion where we shine?
What if our grief becomes a liberation song
that returns us to our innocence?
What if our fierce hearts
could simply bear witness?
Take good care and do come dance with us . . . for we make magic together.
Fierce & tender love,