CHASING THE DANCE OF LIFE: A FAITH JOURNEY
by CYNTHIA WINTON-HENRY, Apocryphile Press, Berkeley CA, 2009
“a tender culmination of rich spirit and body-centered wisdom. Fun, magical reading– a gift for our time.” Ruth King, author of Healing Rage
“Shows us that the pathway to spirit starts deep in our bodies. Cynthia’s gift and calling is to share the playful tools of movement to light our way.” Conscious Dancer Magazine–
“I laughed out loud at one moment cried deeply the other. As a child I loved to dance, but one day I stopped, because I listened to outside voices…It was so good to read your story. Thank you! It has taken some time, but I am claiming my inner voice.” Beth Riehe
Friends Journal review, June 15, 2010 by Judith Favor, Claremont, CA
I had a great fun with this memoir. Cynthia Winton-Henry poetically describes fifty years of dreams and disappointments, hopes and hurts, flights and flops along the path into, through and beyond church ministry. She started seminary without a relationship with “you know who.” She learned to be a pastor “in a religious disaster zone.” She committed herself to bringing dance and religion together. She led a retreat for twelve clergywomen: “They were weary and I knew why.” She wanted to find the wisdom of the body. Cynthia and Phil Porter started a dance company in the San Francisco Bay Area called Wing It! Their first dance concert was “God, Sex and Power, a liturgy full of sexual energy.” There was an earthquake that night. The audience cheered. The critics did not. Cynthia took refuge on her sofa, plagued by serious questions.
“I don’t know how or when I got enrolled in the great mystery school,” she muses. Gradually she realized that “for those who remain open to the experience, prayers are answered in our body, Christ’s love is profoundly physical, and the Bible is not just an old tale of boring, supernatural adventures. It is a portal to a multi-dimensional world where things that don’t make sense in our world can be recognized and healed.”
Cynthia tells hard truths in warm language. She invites readers to dance along through fresh encounters with faith and practice, Christian ministry and scripture, partnering and parenting, love and loss. Chapters move chronologically from A Fire in My Flesh and Lessons of a Reluctant Minister through Deep Waters, Initiations and End Times, concluding with The Choice to Bless the World. And bless us she does.
Praying, playing and dancing lead to Cynthia’s conversion from pastor-dancer to mystic-prophet. Embodying a faith too vibrant to be contained within traditional religious structures, Cynthia springs beyond pulpit and pew to co-create InterPlay, a dynamic form of body-based social connectivity. Boundlessly creativity, she and Phil Porter collaborate to develop InterPlay tools and ideas that unlock the wisdom of the body. Holy imagination sparks a “counter-cultural choreography of hope” around the globe
In a final genre-extending leap she concludes with two provocative lists. “Cynthia’s 13 Deals” critique the forms of dismissal, repression and apathy she sees embedded in traditional religion. Thirteen Body Wisdoms summarize the re-humanizing forms that InterPlay introduces to restore body, soul and community. The author now travels the world introducing InterPlay, an innovative form of spiritual practice in which participants express natural creativity through intergenerational innocence, joy and contentment. InterPlay practices and principles certainly enliven me. They just may revitalize the church.
What is the color of hope? Read Chasing the Dance of Life to find out. The depth and honesty of Cynthia’s queries and stories made me laugh, cry and shout AHA! Her search clarified my contemplative journey, confirmed my vocational choice to relinquish my ministerial standing in another denomination, and affirmed that I have ‘come round right,” by choosing to make my home among Friends.