When hell breaks loose

I’ve staked my tent at the burning bush and the dark night of my tradition. I dwell in a Vast center, wary to get any closer.
I dance a tight wire between the stakes of religious anxiety and a calm so deep it can’t be of my own doing but some kind of inheritance.
An angel sits on my soul who can make it difficult to move. I must be taught the way of no escape.


Things are happening
Hell breaks loose,
guns get centerstage
Empathy is weaponized
Youth and Teachers scream STOP!
Opioids and cell phones run the world.
Walls or bridges? Walls or bridges?


At the same time
A Civil Rights icon shows up to play.
A Doctor on retreat cries for her own body.
Congregationalists break out in Dance.
It is the decade of Embodiment.


“The old will dream new dreams
The young shall see a mighty vision
In the day that Love has made
We will end our hateful division
Oh Joy shall come to the city streets
Our hearts with life together beat
The rich ones, poor ones shall bow down
to the children who shall lead us.
O People come and sing your song
Sing your song together
Joy shall come to this strange land
when we love each other.”


Is love enough? Justice is what love looks like in public says Cornel West
I journey in the culvert of powerlessness.
The water is only knee deep.
But, this dance is completely underground, invisible. 
No one can take this work away from me. I must do it.
There will be no more details to share for some time.


When horror and terror live one room away
It’s Hell for a body at home.
And for many bodies everywhere.
And yet bodies are rising, starving,
twitching to move everywhere I look.


Bodies are marching,
up in arms,
rocking loose from grey matter,
taking sides, singing too loud,
bursting forth with evolutionary fervor.
The body wants to move, to befriend, to heal!

I know the brain science for this.
I know the testaments and techniques.
This has nothing to do with that.
Knowing is just a way to map a territory.
What we have here is the earth working herself up.
Nature is paying us forward with birthright force.
Black lives, women lives, children’s lives, elders lives,
indigenous lives, gay lives, animal’s lives,
the living land and water.
It’s an earthquake of spirit.
A volcano.


The body will have its event
and we will have to choose.
This is where art comes back in.
Free will wants to grow,
but not without free, loving and beautiful people.
This is whyI’ II dance in the culvert of despair
just as I dance in the streets.
I pray in the studio, the office, and the recovery zone.
I am a first and a last responder,
I am a mother octopus suspended with her eggs
preparing to die.

Anne Hutchinson–Grace on Trial: An Ancestor Story

A live reading by Cynthia Winton-Henry on zoom

Three dates
Thursday, Sept 17, 6-7  pm Pacific
Friday, Sept 18, 6-7 pm Pacific
Sunday, Sept 20, 10-11 am Pacific








In this live reading, I take great care to share the facts about my boatload of extended family, led by a woman, and what happened after they landed in Boston in the early 1630s. It impacts America’s foundational relationship with land, gender, first people, morality, and white supremacy. Like us, they met up with

  • Nature at its harshest
  • A pandemic
  • A legalistic, punishing, religiously fanatical body politic
  • An unwavering, authoritarian male ego.
  • The systemic crippling of female, indigenous and black cultures
  • And, a undying Grace that ran through them like a river.

After the 30 minute reading we’ll reflect, notice, ask questions, and dance on behalf of grace activists everywhere!

Register for Zoom Link Here. 

Donations Welcome at paypal.me/cynthiawintonhenry or Venmo @Cynthia-Winton-Henry.



Expanded Online Dance Chapels: Everyday but Saturday

Come hold sacred the Wisdom of the Body.
Come move, sing, and honor each other’s bodyspirit in these times…


Times; 9:30 and 4:30 Pacific

Sunday’s 4:30 pm with Jane Siarny
Mondays 4:30 pm pst with Cynthia Winton-Henry
Tuesdays 9:30 pm with Rehana Tejpar
Tuesdays 4:30 pm pst with Stephanie Gesling & Greer Dokmanovich
Wednesdays 4:30 pm pst with Ruth Schowalter
Thursdays 9:30 am pst with Nancy Pfaltzgraf
Thursdays 4:30 pm with Coke Tani
Fridays 9:30 am pst with Monisha Mittal
Fridays 5:30 pm PST with Kaira Jewel Lingo
See world clock for your time.


Email Cynthia@interplay.org for the zoom link and to get
weekly notifications about chapels.
Email to unsubscribe anytime.


Here’s what you can expect in a chapel.
Light a candle, virtual or real, and bring your intention for family, community, and world.
Affirm and notice your body wisdom as you move, notice, and share.
Renew grace and gratitude in your week.
Hear and share inspiring poetry and wisdom.
Dance on behalf of others in the group.
Connect to global companions.
Receive resources.



Drop-in at any time you need prayer, community, or support at no charge.
We welcome donations of $25–85/month and love offering anytime. Just click here. 
Make checks to Cynthia Winton-Henry, 2273 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612.


To learn more about the chapel leaders link here.




A 2002 Dream of Coronas and Apocalyptic Night Rainbows

If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me,
even the night shall be light about me…
The darkness and the light
are both alike to thee.       – Howard Thurman

In 2002 I had a dream. I wrote about it in “The Lucky Dark” chapter in my book, Chasing the Dance of Life.

I don’t think dreams are only about the dreamer. I believe that human consciousness is communal. Modern people carry individual freedom to such an extreme that we forget how much we are of one piece. I believe that we dream for each other as well as ourselves. In the Bible, Jacob won a seat in the court of a foreign King for his ability to prophetically dream and translate their meaning to the powers that be. The only problem is that, like art, dreams are subjective. We have to decide whether to swallow dreams whole or take them with a grain of salt.

In the summer of 2002, I dreamt a world dream.


Rainbow Spheres


Suited up against the dark nights,
I looked up.
A rainbow stitched the night sky.
A night rainbow? I checked my lense,
elbowed my neighbor, “Did you see that?”

Suddenly the rainbow stitch
duplicated into multicolored
spherical, fractals of light,
each enwrapping an inner light
born from infinite, unlit sources.

Rainbow eggs torrentially divided,
multiplied, hailed down.
I was Unprepared
wearing high terrain boots,
the kind used for hard work
and cross country mountain climbing.

As I clod toward the village square
so many shoes lay abandoned by the road.
I took off my boots and ran light-footed
toward the center of the city,
an aurora borealis flood
consuming and swallowing the world.


When I woke, I wondered, “Is this how it will happen? A future coming at us over which we have no control? Apocalyptic death? Or? Apocalyptic hope.”

Something enormously “other” is at the center of every miracle. Strike us dead or let us dance, I don’t know how well we’ll do, but I know bodies will be altered and offered up every time. A rainbow world is coming. And it may not depend on us.

Since that dream, I’ve thought that something outside human consciousness may be needed to create the shift we need.  A trillion inner suns illuminating our darkness? Coronas?

Are we collectively open to help from beyond? Strange question. Strange dream. My life may or may not be saved. This is not a time for individuals. I bow to the storm.

If I think of the world as a body, it can’t be reduced to a problem or disease. Life is a web of health. The more health we grant ourselves the more we create a healthy world body. Violent methods put off healing and health. Things like war are surgical. Who wants surgery? Recovery is hard.

What leads to peace and healing? Creative Contributions, Play and Rest.  That’s CPR of body wisdom.

Play is the genius of consciousness. Play builds up bodies, fosters health and transforms trauma.  The sooner we play, dance, share our story, song, and spirit, the quicker we stabilize and open up our bodyspirits to relief, curiosity, love, energy, power, and crazy encounters.

If you’d like to read the introduction to  Chasing the Dance of Life link here.  I wrote it to companion the mystics, poets, visionaries, and dancers who feel weird. In it, I offer my quest to understand why something as expansive, visionary, heart-opening and socially healing as the Dance of Life could be so hard to claim. Fortunately, there are voices that say, “Fear not.” On discouraging days I cling to incantations like poet Muriel Rukeyser’s,

Let poems and bodies love and be given to air,
Earth having us real in her seasons, our fire and savor;
And reader, love well, imagine forward, for
All of the testaments are in your favor.


Dance when you are broken open. Dance if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance and you’re perfectly free.  Rumi


Here’s to rainbows in your night sky or at your roots.








If the collective body is in trauma do we protect, or dare to dance?

Franciscan Richard Rohr, a prolific, eloquent teacher and guide for our times, recently wrote on body wisdom, soul, and collective stuckness. Drawing from Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, he shares the growing awareness of historical white stuck trauma. It’s in our bodies and continues to inflict pain.
To unstick trauma requires more than noticing or releasing trauma. Traditionally humans healed their traumatized social nervous systems through the birthright practices of movement, voice, story, stillness, humor, affection, love,  friendship and ceremony.  The creative neuro-pathways not only bring us back to a healthy sense of life and soothe us, but they also open up channels of inspiration and communication with wise, higher-ordered intelligence.
Scientist Stephen Porgas in The Polyvagal Theory writes that “to connect and co-regulate with others is our biological imperative. We experience this imperative as an inherent quest for safety that can be reached only through successful social relationships. In which we co-regulate our behavior and physiology.”
In the Art of Ensoulment Self Care Playbook for Mystics and Sensitive Leaders, my year-long course dedicated to body, soul, creativity and wisdom needed to thrive and lead in the coming days, I share key initiations. One is to restore our birthright practices.
In the Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary anthropologist Angeles Arrien writes,  “In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person, complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions. When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.”
Be reassured. No art, no soul, is lost, only dormant. It’s silence waits and holds beautiful and terrible secrets, casting shadows of creative power that pulse and pull on us in the dark. Poet John O’Donohue in the Invisible Embrace of Beauty sees stillness as the hidden power of dance  “Stillness is the canvas against which movement can become beautiful. We can only appreciate movement against the background of stillness. Were everything kinetic, we could not know what movement is. As sound is sistered to silence, movement is sistered to stillness” Appreciate the hidden arts and we generate creative surges of growth, connection, and insight. InterPlay offers a beautiful container for exploring this.
For the one in five of us who are sensitive bodies, we need creative flow more than most. We need soothing, holistic sensations, insights and technologies. We need to counterbalance suffering with renewed beauty and hope. We need artistic observation, reasoning, and consensual processes that loop us into energy, guide and regulate collective body wisdom.
I am afraid it is no longer enough to do solo dances, solo songs, and solo embodied prayers.  If we want health in the social body, we must dignify the wisdom of our ancestors and the living traditions of indigenous people whose dances, songs, and stories are spiritually intelligent. Then we must reinitiate our body wisdom and creativity in simple, heart-activating ways. InterPlay is brilliant at this. 

From Stuck in the Body by Richard Rohr, Thursday, February 20, 2020

In the West, we rely predominately on “head” knowledge, but our hearts offer us plenty of information as well through powerful experience of awe and empathy, joy and heartbreak (even if we choose to dismiss it most of the time). But it seems to me that we have lost or ignored the wisdom of the body almost completely. I have often taught that if we are not transformed by our pain, we will almost certainly transmit it to those around us, and I am learning that we pass it on to future generations as well.
Author and therapist Resmaa Menakem speaks directly about “bodily knowing” and the transmission of trauma from a historical and corporate perspective. Our bodies have a form of knowledge that is different from our cognitive brains. This knowledge is typically experienced as a felt sense of constriction or expansion, pain or ease, energy or numbness. Often this knowledge is stored in our bodies as wordless stories about what is safe and what is dangerous. . . . The body is where we live. It’s where we fear, hope, and react. It’s where we constrict and relax. And what the body most cares about are safety and survival. When something happens to the body that is too much, too fast, or too soon, it overwhelms the body and can create trauma. . . . Trauma is not primarily an emotional response. [It] always happens in the body. . . . Trauma is the body’s protective response to an event—or a series of events—that [the body] perceives as potentially dangerous. This perception may be accurate, inaccurate, or entirely imaginary. . . . An embedded trauma response can manifest as fight, flee, or freeze—or as some combination of constriction, pain, fear, . . . reactive behaviors, or other sensations and experiences.
This trauma then gets stuck in the body—and stays stuck there until it is addressed.  Menakem explains how layers of trauma have built up in the United States: America is tearing itself apart. On the surface, this war looks like the natural outcome of many recent social and political clashes. But it’s not. These conflicts are anything but recent. One hundred and fifty-six years ago, they spawned the American Civil War. But even in the 1860s, these conflicts were already centuries old. They began in Europe during the Middle Ages, where they tore apart close to two million white bodies. The resulting tension came to America embedded in the bodies of Europeans, and it has remained in the bodies of many of their descendants. Over the past three centuries, that tension has been both soothed and deepened by the invention of whiteness and the resulting racialization of American culture. At first glance, today’s manifestation of this conflict appears to be a struggle for political and social power. . . . While we see anger and violence in the streets of our country, the real battlefield is inside our bodies. If we are to survive as a country it is inside our bodies where this conflict will need to be resolved. . . . If we are to upend the status quo of white-body supremacy, we must begin with our bodies. 
Adapted from Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (Central Recovery Press, 2017), xvii, 5, 7. Image credit: Saint Serapius (detail), Francisco de Zurbarán, 1628, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. 

Crazy-Making Times Require Different Muscles, Soul Muscles.

You are a sensitive being. You feel and notice more than most. What do you do when a toxic leader is driving you crazy? When this happens, you and I need to engage different muscles, soul muscles. Maybe you are already using them.


I was once a minister in the church. Unfortunately, I navigated more than one situation where a person incrementally took the community captive. Some people aren’t just critics. There aren’t enough workshops, experts, prayers, committee meetings, or conversations to appease these individuals. They ferret out dissent and build coalitions. The idea of a common good is not on their mind though they say it is. They blatantly defy social rules and are uncannily gifted at encouraging others to do the same, even people I’d expect to behave ethically. In my experience, a church leader, like presidents, agrees not to tamper in communities they’ve served. In my case, the former pastor got seduced into hosting dinner meetings with the antagonist. Confusion grew. People refused to name the ringleader. 


How does this happen? More like a disease in the body than a strategy, some people eat and drain the energy or power of others as indicated in this article on workplace bullying. The book Antagonists in the Church: How To Identify and Deal With Destructive Conflict by Kenneth Hauck helped make sense of my experience. I don’t consider the book authoritative about normal conflict, but it showed that this particular problem wasn’t just me. Because leaders lrefuse to empower such experiences is one reason we don’t talk about it. But, for many the scars are real and so is the learning.


I love affirming people. I am loyal, playful, caring, and too empathetic. But, antagonists aren’t interested in that. They need energy. I had to learn an entirely different strategy for dealing with the insatiable drama of antagonism, but by the time I did, it was too late — the church split. Good and embattled members disappeared. My health deteriorated. I had no training in the phenomenon and had to go. The good news is that experiences like this accelerated my path to create InterPlay. I understood better the nature of health in the community. 


As we deal with insanity in the U.S. presidency, here are the strategic muscles I’m using.

Step one: Center in soul and healthy relationships. Gather and honor your higher power. Soul muscles are so deep we forget that they’re even there. Connect to Source and find the reassurance that you are OK no matter what.

Step two: Resist looking for what is fair and what isn’t. Instead, notice energy. Are you getting drained? Is it like people are fighting a disease? Are they getting drained? Yes? This is an energy problem. Don’t be consumed.

Step three: Keep shifting attention off of the antagonist to those open to love. The antagonist’s ability to incite reaction is their primary power. Use energy wisely. Train your focus on building up people.

Step four: Give up shaming and negotiating. Mental health professionals recognize that some personalities may not be able to improve their social awareness. Shame or negotiation with antagonistic people feeds the disease.

Step five: Surrender idealism. To deal with conflict head-on, I had to confront an addiction to idealism. Perpetuating tolerance of unjust actions and words is part of whiteness. To see if you are addicted to idealism, check out this article.

Step six: Observe Solemn Boundaries: Let your “No” be neutral and clear. This is where soul muscles get a real workout. The good news is that NO becomes the most loving thing for everyone. Items on the list below come from PsychCentral.com for dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder. They are similar to the behavioral strategies for dealing with people who are agitating for their next energy/drama fix.

    • Don’t feed an antagonists need for attention/validation
    • Don’t get pulled into drama triangles.
    • Don’t feel emotionally destroyed by impulsive remarks or behaviors. 
    • Don’t become emotional “prey.
    • Don’t get into any routines or habits with antagonists.
    • Don’t be their “go-to” person at ALL times.
    • Don’t allow boundary crossings.
    • Don’t always go the extra mile.
    • Don’t look affected by attempts to control, manipulate, or dominate 
    • Don’t show emotional distress, agitation, anger, or pleasure.
    • Don’t give information to someone who intends to manipulate you.
    • Don’t get pulled in by unsubstantiated fears of abandonment.
    • Don’t normalize their risky behaviors.
    • Don’t believe they are capable of “snapping out of it.
    • Don’t minimize your intuition.

Step seven: Keep building coalitions that understand and protect against the nature of antagonism and continue to place situations and people in Divine hands.

Step eight: Know that all of the above is Love.


        I’d love your thoughts and reactions to this. I’ll respond to comments.