DNA–Dancing Now and Always




A gift of this new year—a poem to the heartbeat of a call. With gratitude to the sage dancers who without fanfare feed the holy of holies by dancing.  


The Mystics of all religions say it’s true.

Even Scientists agree that DNA

Is Love Dancing Now and Always.

The dancing soulway is ever here.


All praise to the spiral dance encoding us

In zig zags of witness, the heat of drums

The breasts abloom with joy. Remember!

No one lays hold of this or any movement.


Hidden? Jesus said, “Who does not dance

Does not know what comes to pass.” [1]

Breath’s pink mystery dances beneath

The error that we are danceless, unwhole.


DNA! Dancing Now and Always! Divinity

Makes love to us, spins and raises us in

Haunting improvisations and dreams

To jolt us out of hell’s frozen disorder.


Till by unbelievable beauty an angel moves

To quake, grieve, awaken, beget us again

Poised with open arms to entrance us

Again and again through Love’s wide gate.



Give us courage to move, to invest in love’s

Singular work, to advance our daily prayer

Unharnessed from heavy want and duty

Never forgetting to return our DNA to You.


Cynthia Winton-Henry


[1] From the Apocryphal Acts of John written in 100 AD.

Metaphysics of the Mundane: Sacred Ways of Seeing

Katharine Kunst draws things. A pictorial poet she loves the feel of pencil to page as she draws herself and us into a holy way of seeing. 

For the last six months, and literally for years now, I’ve been watching her publish and share drawings of chairs, toasters, toothpaste tubes, and every other easily overlooked household object.  With prolific drive, her hands-on love both loosely and precisely transmits each object to the viewer. We are endeared as each takes its place in an archive of the everyday. Is the bandaid box also sacred?  Yes, in Katharine’s view.  Sacredness shapes and forms everything. From heart to eye to hand each drawing invites the object to be born again. 

An astrologer told Katharine that hers is a Metaphysics of the Mundane. Katherine says, “By seeing the spirits in everyday objects I give them a new sense of themselves. The toaster is not just a regular toaster oven. It is My toaster oven.” 

Is this how belonging happens? Yes. In the eyes of the Artist the littlest thing is sacred and is left delicately undisturbed. Nothing more is asked than its presence.

Katharine could be a devotee of HESTIA, the GODDESS whose name means hearth, fireplace, altar. Katharine is truly religious about cooking, food, home-craft, feeding others,  even in how she folds grocery bags or uses journals to track the body data of everyday life.  Nothing seems untouched or unnoticed. This Divine Feminine upholds is with holy eyes until the heart pours forth in grateful acts of affection.

But here is the strange thing. In Katharine this level of care is always generous, more play than work. Katharine keeps her humor, seeks to keep it all simple, and never asks me to duplicate her perfected practice.  It is as if she loves the home maker for all of us.  

Katharine would say that art and life is how she maintains balance in this difficult political and social time. As a sensitive being, wife to Katherine, and friend to all her beloveds, she tends conversations and people who need Hestia more than ever. 

This Fall she had to evacuate her home due to the threat of encroaching Northern California fires. Like so many others she had to let go of the very altarpiece and theater of all she loves.  That seems to be what is being required of us these days. Be prepared to let go.

Yet, if we praise and love as best we can, the beauty of life endures. It is all sacred. This is how even toothpaste tubes, bandage boxes, blenders, toasters and Dip-It cleaner become holy.  Us too. 

Thank you Katharine, Hestia, and you readers who behold and praise the sacred in countless ways.

Find and follow Katharine at Instagram and/or Facebook.

David Stendl Rast on Play as Wisdom

I celebrate David Stendl-Rast, 90 year old interfaith wisdom teacher and gratitude guide leading us into the never before more profound and radical spiritual key of play! He writes,

My friends:

I’d like to send you warm greetings and good wishes at this festive season. However, it will be festive only if we learn to play again, play creatively, the way we knew how to play as children. Nothing was more important to us children, nothing more serious, nothing more necessary than to play. School, however, soon brainwashed us, replacing our childlike wisdom by mere knowledge and saddling us with work instead of freeing us to play. Wisdom plays. Yes, wisdom plays! In the Book of Proverbs, Lady Sophia, Divine Wisdom personified, sings of the part she played “at the very beginning, when the world came to be … When the primordial sea was not yet … when springs did not yet gush forth … before the mountains made valleys … I was there … When He set the sea its boundary … when He marked out the foundations of the earth, I was with him … playing day by day before him … playing on his rounding earth, and my delight it was to be with humankind” (Prov. 8: 23-31).

Whatever we do in these festive days, it can become work, or we can turn it into play. It’s up to us. As long as we have only our purpose in mind, we are working; but when we allow the meaning of what we are doing to take hold of us, we are playing. Work purposefully strives for a goal that lies ahead of it; but play has its goal within itself. When we play, or sing, we have no other purpose than singing or playing. Or do we dance in order to reach a goal? In all the many tasks, we have to tackle these days, we will succeed playfully, if we do not merely act purposefully, but allow ourselves to be seized by meaning. And is not the deepest meaning of all we are doing love? — love as our lived “yes” to the fact that all of us belong to all.

Celtic spirituality speaks of “Thin Places,” where the veil between this world and another is translucent. There are “Thin Seasons” also – and now one has come. Can you not sense the Great Secret – the meaning of all – beyond a thin, thin veil, these days? Let’s celebrate this: Let’s play! Only when we play do we truly celebrate. Some celebrations may have secondary purposes, but only if their main purpose is celebration for the sake of celebration, do they remain meaningful. Whosoever celebrates, plays — for no other reason than to play.

In the monastery, the solemn game of Advent liturgy culminates in the great O Antiphons. And the first of them, O Sapientia, invokes Wisdom: “O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, you embrace the world from end to end. With strength and gentleness, you set everything in order. Come and reveal to us the way of insight.” – Finding meaning in what we are doing, that is true insight.

Wisdom seeking to take hold of us and to teach us to play, seems to do this more easily at this Thin Season. It may be a tune, a smell, or the laughter of children that grabs you. Let it happen! – and at once you can play again, you can celebrate, and every task becomes meaningful. If we enter the year 2018 with this attitude, we may hope to come a step closer to a global order of strength and gentleness — and that is my urgent heartfelt wish for all of us.

Your Brother David”


Brother David is a Catholic Benedictine monk, notable for his active participation in interfaith dialogue and his work on the interaction between spirituality and science. He was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. He received his MA degree from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Vienna. He emigrated to the United States in the same year and became a Benedictine monk in 1953 at Mt. Saviour Monastery in Pine City, New York, a newly founded Benedictine community. With permission of his abbot, Damasus Winzen, in 1966 he was officially delegated to pursue Buddhist-Christian dialogue and began to study Zen with masters Haku’un Yasutani, Soen Nakagawa, Shunryu Suzuki and Eido Tai Shimano.

He co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies with Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi teachers, and since the 1970s has been a member of the cultural historian William Irwin Thompson’s Lindisfarne Association. His writings include Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, The Music of Silence (with Sharon Lebell), Words of Common Sense and Belonging to the Universe (co-authored with Fritjof Capra). He also co-founded A Network for Grateful Living, an organization dedicated to gratefulness as a transformative influence for individuals and society.

Writing into the Holy We

It is an honor to be asked to endorse a book. I’ve endorsed three recently, all InterPlay friends and folk– Christine Painter’s The Wisdom of the Body, Connie Pwll Tyler’s Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet, and Beverly Voss’ book of poems Sycamore Skies

Words offer a sacred path. An early mentor taught me that words are alive, that they dance. The stories of life can gradually take form outside our body creating a trans-formation that is alchemical. Thickets of body data having daunted us, begin to reveal new paths. The deeper we go the more our bodies change. Our minds change. Next thing we know life has changed.

At the same time, wise language requires artful levels of love and attention. As an improvisor I know too well that off-the cuff words carry the power to harm. In this regard I make it a practice to try to speak to my own life rather than about others. While fear doesn’t stop me from improvising, it requires disciplined levels of consciousness and craft. I take it as a teaching when my words hurt others, learning that unless I embed my word in my own lived experience, treat them as anything less that holy, I reduce words to being merely tools or worse, weapons. To render a living thing into a utility is dangerous. Sadly, we kill the sacred in our words everyday. Words want to play. They don’t want to be dead.

Enter the artist and storyteller. I am grateful for the way craft and practice slow me down. To write a book is holy work, for the writer most of all. To endorse a book is to bless a soul transaction.

Last weekend at a writing workshop with Deena Metzger– elder teacher, healer, and author, I watched my words simultaneously agitate her and meaningfully connect. Deena is a medicine woman and author who helped bring an African community healing practice into the U.S. Her parents were Russian Jews. She is intimately alive to first people. In retrospect I know I need to learn to speak with full respect for first peoples, people that I have tried to protect by standing back from their ways even as I hold them in reverence. Gratefully, the retreat brought me into the teaching place.

At one point Deena told me that my words erased first nation peoples. I was stunned. It wasn’t my intention. But I knew to listen. I was speaking to my lineage as a descendant of Puritans exiled by the early Boston colonizers for being committed to grace-making. But, I spoke without mentioning any awareness of the permeating genocidal injustice that ensues from “colonizing mind.” As a white person to skirt the horrendous impact of damage is not only insufficient, it creates further harm.

Praying again for mindfulness, humility, as well as bravery to speak exactly as I speak, as an artist and speaker I take full responsibility for my words. In order to offer my voice as worthy I acknowledge that words that I think are loving can add to pain. (In racial transformation work this is called intent vs. impact.)

Post retreat I am both more clear and more challenged. Can I marry my personal, limited consciousness with a sacred consciousness inextricably interwoven into the current socio-political reality? How can all realms be intertwined in a creative and health filled way in order to serve through this particular white, middle class, mystical, teachable, dancing body?

As a writer and a thinker I seek a way to true my words  to the lineage story, earth story, and the intricate interplay of stories. This requires community. Everyone else’s story and their reactions to the story I tell are the only dependable way that truth comes. As Deena said, “In the end good writing is one of the great communal projects. You can see it in the acknowledgements.”

So reader, here is to the Holy We in writing. I bow to you and the Holy. Thank you reader, listener, and friend. I welcome comments of all sizes and wonder what you are practicing as you speak and write life into your world.


Christine Paintner’s 10th book Coming Home to Your Body from Ave Maria Press includes four InterPlay exercises, (The Hand Dance p. 19, Shape and Stillness p. 46, Story of redemption p. 70, Dance on behalf of p. 86). 


This Little Light of Mine, I’m gonna let it SHRINE!

It’s going to be a big shrining weekend for me.

As some of you know I have a shrine workshop in Jingletown near Alameda. Its been five years or so that kooky, wonder-filled shrines have been flowing out of me. 

The word shrine comes from the old English scrin “ark (of the covenant); chest, coffer; case for relics,” from Latin scrinium “case or box for keeping papers,” of unknown origin. From late 14c. as “a tomb of a saint” (usually elaborate and large). 

Someone said that “shrines are external representations of interior mysteries…showing in tangible form what might be happening in our hearts and spirits.” In my studio I have shrines to the turkey, to my alternate dream of a diverse fourth of July, to old holy cards, to India, and to Lewis Mahlman’s doll collection, the creator of Children’s Fairyland, puppet theater! This is the centerpiece of my space.

I love finding things to which I am attracted, both things mundane and that ooze with transcendence. I love accumulating containers, boxes, frames. I love watching objects compose themselves in 3-D testaments to mystery!  Most of all, I love curating the shrines as they engage people–the shy viewer, the over-stimulated shrugger, and the soul that feels absolutely inspired and at home in my mardi gras like soul menagerie.

This weekend, Saturday and Sunday 12-6, I will be selling my old sole shrines and other arty items at Jingletown Art Studios. Jingletown Art Studios, 3001 Chapman St, Oakland.  I have several pieces up in the gallery, too.



This weekend I’m also building a communal advent shrine for my church, First Congregational Church of Berkeley– a Shrine of the Times. (Punster moment.)  The seasonal theme is Watch. This references the radical power of witnessing the new birth that could be as overwhelming as stars falling and trees greening. Check us out. 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley CA at 10 on Sundays.


Also on Saturday night I get to be enshrined in a book launch! Long time bay area dancers featured in a book called Beauty is Experience: Dancer 50 and Beyond Over Fifty will occur at InterPlayce from 6-8:30, 2273 telegraph Avenue. I’m one of the dancers which is like saying “InterPlay Rocks!”

You are invited to any and of this shrini-ness. Even if you cant come play, thanks for your witness. That’s how we enshrine someone we love, with eyes of wonder.