Sunday, September 30, 2007

The ribbon banner welcomes!

I had an absolutely wonderful time at the grand opening celebration for Touchstones interfaith spirituality center. It was outdoors in the new park in the Glen in Glenview, and they couldn't have ordered better weather. Bright, sunny, hopeful day. Singing, drumming, prayer stones and prayer bead stations set up around a fountain next to a small lake.
I changed into my red dress in the bathroom which was a little distance away. I put my red ribbons on my pole right there and then waved them as I walked over to the celebration as a way of creating interest among the soccer players and others in the park.
When I got to the celebration, Rev. Kathy Dale McNair had a big arms wide open welcome for me. She said the ribbons looked great, but I said they were short and stumpy looking. They were the length I use in churches, but outdoors, I could extend my telescoping pole and thus the ribbons could be much longer. Luckily, Rev. Phyllis Beattie had lots of extra ribbons from making the mini-ribbon banners, so I added some longer ribbons. It looked great, and then I was ready to go. Since the event was nestled in the park, the ribbons waving high on the pole beaconed to people, helping them find the celebration and encouraging them to come and see.
I had a great time dancing to the songs of peace - If I had a hammer, This land is your land, etc. - that Lynn Sanders led. To feel the hope of those songs, many of which I hadn't heard in years, reverberating through my body, was incredibly cathartic. The songs brought back happy childhood memories and so I was a child again, dancing my joy. I also danced to the sacred drumming of Mama Edie. The wind was strong, but it was great fun having unlimited space to move the pole and make the ribbons ripple and dance.
As a minister of movement, I know that the real issue, however, isn't my enjoyment, but others'. Did I communicate the joy of the day? Convey it to others in the visceral way in which movement communicates? Based on people's many comments, I'd say the answer is "yes." I was able to communicate God's joy to others in a way that was contagious. The ribbons are mesmerizing, meditative, like a fire, you can watch them for hours without getting bored. Just when you think you know the pattern, it changes, and you start all over again.
There's a picture of me, as well as the other activities, on the kick-off event page of the Touchstones website. Check it out for information on their upcoming workshops.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Movement for Liturgical Ministers

I gave a retreat last Saturday at Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park with Dennis Northway, the parish musician, called "Worship! Engaging the whole spirit" for the choir and worship team. As always, it was fun working with Dennis. The people at Grace were very responsive and enthusiastic. A great group.
I led movement for non-dancers, opening people up to the movement possibilities in worship in a very non-threatening way. It wasn't "dance." Dennis was really impressed by how I got some very unlikely people moving, and the choir may try doing some VERY simple steps in their processions as a result.
I began by asking everyone simply to walk around the sanctuary as I told a story that evoked different emotions. I asked them to notice how those emotions affected their walking. Someone said that the exercise evoked all the thoughts that are going through people's heads as they come to worship.
Then, we talked about how, as worship leaders, our bodies communicate during worship and what we'd like our bodies to convey: "alert" and "open" were the two words that came up. So, we tried standing in ways that are alert and open, and I gave some tips based on my dance experience on how to do that.
Anastasia Black from St. James the Less also brought up not drawing attention to yourself. This was a good point and I wish I had spent a little more time unpacking it. It's one of those zen things. Everyone is looking at you, but you don't want to draw attention to yourself? How do you do that?? I think of it as being a conduit for the Holy Spirit. It's not about me, but the Holy Spirit moving through me. My hope is that when people see me, they see right through me to the Holy Spirit.
I was very excited about this workshop and hope to do more workshops for worship leaders. Increasing body awareness and movement awareness among worship leaders is important in and of itself and it can lead to more movement in worship so that people pray with their whole bodies.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ribbon Dance, Advent Dance, Rosary Retreat

I just posted these three upcoming events on my website and figured I should also put them on the blog. I'm excited about each of them for different reasons that I describe below

Sunday, September 23, 2007, 4:00PM-5:30PM
Outdoor kick-off celebration for interfaith spirituality center
Enjoy an hour of engaging activities that reflect various faith traditions. I will dance with my ribbon pole and make smaller ribbon poles with children so that they may join me dancing around the park, too.
Touchstones, Glenview, IL
I'm excited because the Touchstones folks came up with the idea of using pipecleaners to make mini-ribbon banners rather than the chopsticks I've used in the past with adults, most noteably at Claudia Sloan's memorial service. I'll never forget the entire church waving their little banners as some other dancers and I processed out of the church with the big banners, ushering Claudia's spirit out into the world with us.
Anyway, the pipecleaners work really well and are actually better replicas of my ribbon pole because they bend and sway. Truly lovely. I'm hoping to have a band of mini ribbon dancers following me . . .

Sunday, December 2, 2007, 10:30AM
Worship service on the first Sunday of Advent
I will dance to the lively "There's a Great Joy a Comin'"sung by New Hope's wonderful choir under the direction of Liz Okayama.
New Hope United Methodist Church, Chicago, Illinois
Liz just told me the song selection today. She'll send a tape after they've rehearsed it a bit.

Saturday, December 8, 2007 9AM-4PM
Dancing the Rosary: Moving through the Joyful Mysteries
On this Advent retreat day on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we will pray with our bodies, reflecting on Mary and her tremendous gift to humankind. After grounding ourselves in movement-based Lectio Divina(scriptural reflection) and faith-sharing, we will pray our own moving meditations to the national rhythms of the spoken rosary. The day will culminate in celebrating mass for this Holy Day. No rosary, dance, or movement experience is required, merely a desire and willingness to move and pray. Please wear comfortable clothing. Rosaries will be provided.
Archdiocese of Joliet, Illinois, Romeoville, Illinois
I'm excited because I just learned that Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber wrote the "Rosary Sonatas" -- 15 sonatas for violin and harpischord -- one for each of the original fifteen mysteries of the rosary. I haven't bought them yet. I'm just devouring information about them on the internet, reading Amazon reviews, trying to decide which version to buy. I have been looking for years for music for the mysteries of the rosary, then last night on a lark, I googled "rosary dance" and it came up in a review. Apparently Biber was educated by Jesuits who emphasized praying with all the senses. I have wanted music for each of the mysteries for my rosary retreats, and it looks like I may have found it!