In my twenties, the great fear was a nuclear bomb. Humanity’s capacity to blow ourselves up assaulted basic confidence in life. A Hollywood movie was making the rounds, depicting what a nuclear holocaust would be like. I didn’t want to watch it alone.
Driving down the freeway to view it with a friend, the San Francisco Bay was to my right and the Berkeley hills were to my left. The sweeping view across the water took my eye to the Golden Gate bridge. Why would I want to imagine such a threat to all I love? That is when I heard a voice as if it was in my vehicle with me. In a neutral tone, this is what I heard, “These are your three directives: efficiency of energy, clarity of vision, courage to love.” Out of the blue. Just like that. That was 35 years ago.
So it is that fear and the Unseen Teacher is interwoven in me. Both the World and the Divine have my full attention.
At the time I was part of Body and Soul dance company with Phil Porter and Judith Rock. I was teaching dance in a seminary and already signed up for the whole ride. I loved God but I was learning that more than feeling love is required in leadership. Suffering freaked me out. I avoided it. On the other hand, I was discovering that to resist suffering seems to intensify and prolong it.
In my studies, I was taken with the hymn of Jesus, a gorgeous Gloria to the dance of creation recorded in the Apocryphal Acts of John. This ritual circle dance and song is led by Jesus and is attributed to the night he was betrayed, the Passover, not unusual behavior in Jewish life. In the hymn, Jesus sings, “Learn to suffer so as not to suffer.” As a dancer I’m tuned into bodies. I’m super sensitve and confronted by suffering when it doesn’t go away. As a spiritual leader, I’ve been asked to prepare to suffer in order to meet others in their suffering, like the time Body and Soul performed in a women’s shelter. After performing four dances for a small group of shell shocked women. I wondered what we were doing there. What was this place? I remember afterward, changing my clothes as shudders of truth went through me. I was awakening to the domestic violence in my own family history, just one of my many initiations into the role of violence and victimization in my own life. Years later, I choreographed Rachel Weeping, a dance that contextualized the role of violence in Latin America, the Holocaust, and in our living rooms by bracketing each scene with a portrayal from the biblical story of Herod chasing down firstborn Jewish males and Rachel’s Passover lament from the First Passover, with her crying out, “How long O Lord?”
Today I see the three directives– efficiency of energy, clarity of vision, and courage to love– as areas of initiation for spiritual leaders who want to be of service. We are called to wise seeing, wise speech, to find stamina as we balance energetic highs and lows, and to navigate personal and collective life in courageous and transformative ways. We seek to make our living as passionate, purposeful beings with a full capacity to live in the joy and pain of shared humanity. Our quest requires a Spirit Team, people who support us through suffering and joy and share tools and stories about how to be artfully, beautifully who we are, every step of the way.
In addition to support, I need unique places where play, art, meditation, sacred conversation, prayer, and good humor nourish hope, places where others like me don’t have to explain how we hear, feel, know and abide in the great mystery of love. Many of these places are “hidden.” They aren’t in the grand institutions, but they are very very real.
Finding mentors and space can be tricky. Some of us give up. Some of us are so tired we just make do. But, more is possible. We only have to ask, Who is my mentor? Where can I play where I am understood? When we do Guidance will lead us.
Have you received mentoring as a creative, sensitive, embodied, soulful person? Do you have a Spirit Team, a wisdom circle who understands your gifts and upholds your dreams? Is it time to strengthen your spiritual practice?
This year I am offering Ensouled! Blessed Instructions and Initiations for Body and Soul. Groups are starting as early as January 25th.I will be providing monthly installments of my curriculum and ways to find accompaniment. You can get the curriculum with or without coaching sessions but I know from experience that the most beneficial path is to travel with a companion or a small circle. For this reason, I’m forming a number of circles in the coming months.
I will happily comp anyone who brings 4-5 colleagues into a monthly group. Or I can place you in one of the groups I am forming. Let me know if you are interested. I will email you soon.