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 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!
An old story is told about the beginning of time. The universe was in the process of being created, and not everything was yet in order or fully functioning. Before the universe could be totally engaged, the Creator had one final task to complete. To help me complete this task, the Creator summoned an angel.
The angel came. The Creator told the angel that she, the Creator, had one last job to do in the making of the universe. “I saved the best for last,” the Creator told the angel. “I have here the real meaning of human life, the treasure of life, the purpose and goal of all this. Because this treasure is valuable beyond description,” the Creator continued, “I want you to hide it. Hide this treasure so well that human beings will know its value to be immeasurable.”
“I will do so,” said the angel. “I will hide the treasure of life on the highest mountain top.”
“The treasure will be too easy to find there,” said the Creator.
“Then,” said the angel, “I will hide the treasure in the great desert wilderness. Surely, the treasure will not be easily found there.”
“No, too easy.”
“In the vast reaches of the universe?” asked the angel. “That would make a difficult search.”
“No,” the Creator said, pondering. Then His face showed a flash of inspiration. “I know. I have the place. Hide the treasure of life within the human being. He will look there last and know how precious the treasure is. Yes, hide the treasure there.”
InterPlay began with Wing It! Performance Ensemble, our lab for performative community creativity. Wing It! continues to this day. Elders and youngers play at a high and honest level, exercising all of our personal and collaborative faculties in voice, storytelling, dance AND in body, mind, heart, and spirit.
In Wing It’s very first theater performance, God, Sex, and Power (1989), our friend Elaine Kirkland as the musician created a chant that opened the show. Two lines overlapped
It’s no longer surprising to me that thirty years later Interior Mythos Journeys interviewed us and titled Module Two Something Bigger Happens.
Michael May and daughter Mary Ellen interviewed Phil and me before Michigan’s Secrets of InterPlay Untensive. Then, in an incredibly philanthropic gesture they gave us all 11 modules of our interview as part of their StoryWarrior Project to freely share. Link here to the page to see the titles and all videos. We share eerie overlaps with these Hidden Monastery Hoosiers, strangely making our way toward each other. If you sign up at InteriorMythos.com video’s will come every couple weeks
Here is Module Two on Something Bigger Happens, eight minutes where we talk about Experiencing the Something Bigger, Tiptoeing Back In – Awakening Traditional Institutions and Awe- the Foundation of Community and Creating Something Good for the World.
What good is sitting, alone in your room? Come hear the music play! Life is a cabaret, old chum! Come to the cabaret!
What good’s permitting some prophet of doom? To wipe every smile away Life is a cabaret, old chum! So come to the cabaret!
Start by admitting from cradle to tomb It isn’t that long a stay Life is a cabaret, old chum! And I love a cabaret!
I was in Scotland on the isle of Lismore the night Mairi Campbell called her neighbors to join a ceilidh in her living room. It was late. There were a couple of fiddlers, some jokesters, a piano, some singing and some spirits. Everyone knew that in sharing folk music, singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling some people would naturally step up. Some would be cajoled. Like their ancestors they improvised an evening that circled around the fires of love, life, hardship and death to find hope, belonging, and sometimes wisdom.
It was a homegrown informal cabaret where music, song, dance, recitation, or drama included food, drink and some content of an adult, underground nature. We could use more homegrown cabarets.
Like the song says, “What good’s permitting some prophet of doom to wipe every smile away? …Start by admitting from cradle to tomb, it isn’t that long a stay…Life is a cabaret old chum, so come to the cabaret.”
With our parents, family members, friends and some of our idealistic dreams dead are dying, where do we play with the rough edges of life? It’s hard to tell our real stories in a death-phobic culture. A cabaret could be useful as a form that includes death as a norm of life. Embracing sister death allows us to live with a little less fear and maybe be a little wiser.
That’s why me, your interplayful cabarista, and Rev. Stephen Winton-Henry, a grief educator with countless hours sitting in the mystery of death and dying, do hereby inaugurate the Dying to Live Tour and Cabaret. We’re practicing “bad Ukulele” and songs that honor life and death. And Boy, could we use some help! We don’t have folk dances, but we can improvise a move or two. Stories? Oh yeah! We have em both made up and real.
As Lord Buddha said
Lord Buddha: How many times do you think about death?
Monk Number 1: I think about death every day.
Lord Buddha: Too little. How about you?
Monk Number 2: I think about death with every bite of food.
Lord Buddha: Not enough. And you?
Monk Number 3: I think about death with every breath in and every breath out.
Lord Buddha: Perfect.
You know things. We want to hear. This will require some levity, honesty, and practice if we want to get real and really live!
Interested in a Dying to Live Workshop-Cabaret evening or day long retreat?
Rev. Stephen Winton-Henry, hospice chaplain and grief educator and Cynthia Winton-Henry, cofounder of InterPlay are dying to live. With decades of helping people get into and out of their bodies, in the Dying to Live Tour and Cabaret they honor the lessons and questions of community around the biggest dance we do: Live and Die. Through reflection, music, stories, and movement, we’ll toast one another, write our names in the book of life, and touch on
Death’s role at the sacred center of life
That death is no solo dance
Our need for a fear troupe
The holy obligation to die well
all with playful, creative reverence.
If you are invested in conscious living, wondering about conscious dying, seeking peace in the midst of change, someone who doesn’t plan on living forever, invite us to lead a cabaret! We’ll get you started on leading your own cabaret, if you like.
This is perfect for anybody, including grief educators, health care professionals. family and friends who might be ready to lift up life and death when they see it. It includes Friday 6pm Dinner, introductions and orientation Saturday Sessions on The Dance of Death, The Poetry of Life, a Happy Hour on The Art of Legacy, A Cabaret of Community Stories, Songs, Dances,Tellings, and on Sunday the Song of the Soul.
OK, off to make Dying to Live Tour and Cabaret T-shirts! YOU KNOW YOU WANT ONE!
I specialize in following spiritual instructions. Ah, if I only knew what they were sometimes!
Right now all signs have pointed me to get my foot off the gas pedal. What strange guidance. I try to push ahead and this is the message I get.
I am grateful to be able to listen to guidance in my body wisdom and dance! HA! Instead of resisting what shows up I learn to play with it.
When I move it seems to recalibrate my body and soul. I feel more attuned to the field around me and more open to messages. Do you have a practice that helps you do that?
Balancing inner and outer states opens channels.
Luckily, I have several places each week to listen in with my whole being: my Friday morning InterPlayce group, the online interfaith prayer chapels that I lead with Nancy Pfaltzgraf, and in one to one sessions where I include movement in spiritual direction.
I also honor guidance from other sources– from those who read the stars, from animal visitors, holy books, dreams, and strangers. The key thing in listening is that it must feel right in my whole being, it must feel aligned. The more I listen and trust the more alignment I feel.
But what about when you get instructions to do something difficult or uncomfortable. Oh my! Yes, I know that well. It is one of the demands of loving, serving, and being on a soul path.
To rest is not my strong suit. In fact, it brings me to a powerlessness that can really challenge me. Still, many loved ones invite me to receive its blessing. These last couple of months I didn’t even have to take time off work, to rest. in fact work supported me with structure and rhythm. Neither high or low in coasting.
So how challenging is it? For me-challenging. I make things happen!
I know that “not doing” may be just as important as doing in the days to come. My purpose is to foster freedom, but I can over-do this and put too much ME in the world. It is time to put others first: Millennials, Leaders of Color, wise coleaders, those who are emerging!
krisjnamurti says, “Action must be seen in relationship. Without appreciating and understanding our relationships, action will only breed conflict. The understanding of relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action.”
For sure, guidance is not a solo art! Listening to my spiritual director, trusted friends, inner voices, and those who show up with wisdom is crucial. I notice them nod and light up when I speak, discern and live from the poetry of purpose. I feel a sense of Rightness between me and them as my path correlates with theirs.
All of this is contingent on being able to really honor my own path. Otherwise everything goes out of whack.
What if guidance asks for sacrifice?
Turkey is one of my totems and give-away is her medicine.
Prior to my birthday I received this fantastic piece of quilted art from Penny Sisto who makes fabric icons and talks to animals near her cabin in the woods. She talks to turkeys. Can you see them?
I remember when I wrote What the Body Wants Turkey Medicine was all over me! Feed the people! Being a published author isn’t about fame. My DNA is organized to gift.
Clarity about guidance requires that I not resist what the world is telling me, nor take it as absolute. I try to remember to just do my best and keep dancing.
The good news is you live ON PURPOSE no matter what, even when you don’t know what it is. Your purpose is in you. Your cells are charged with it like a gps. But, it’s important to get the blessings and nods of others for how you fulfill purpose, for why you are here has everything to do with relationship.
Other things I have learned about listening to guidance-
-Never pass up on a chance to honor the dead, holy people, helpful beings, or sacred lands. This is good practice for receiving support from those communities.
-Don’t ignore guidance even if you don’t take it. Bow, and say thank you if someone extends themselves to you. I have received some guidance that felt seductive but morally wrong. No angel or energy can obligate you. If you are not ready or don’t agree with guidance ask for it to come another way. Ask as many times as you want. The Universe is neutral in its regard for you. You have All the unconditional love and freedom and freedom you need.
-Living on purpose often requires that we undergo initiations to master skills that we need but don’t enjoy (like administrating), gain wisdom about practicing, or to face the opposite of our purpose, in my case oppression or restriction. The opposite of our dream of purpose is often a big door into our power.
-We may be called to deepen rather move forward, to slow down and drop into practices with more care and intention. A new move can feel sexy and inspiring but may be a distraction. How we deepen in place is more and more important as we age.
My current guidance is to play on a mundane level, to delight in the ordinary. This is harder than it sounds for someone like me. But the rewards are real. My friendships and homelife are thriving. Indeed, rest is not counter to freedom. It creates spaciousness, perhaps one of the greatest of all spiritual qualities.
I’m always curious about spiritual guidance. Do you have a spiritual director? Practices that recalibrate you? People and guides who help guide you?
I’ve heard that surprise is a sure sign of spirit. How is your life and guidance surprising you?
Phil and I are theologians. Our thoughts and wisdom embrace a spirit and power greater than ourselves. We coined theokinetics, bodyspirit, and the physicality of grace, to claim the essence of this experience as dancers.
During the sermon time Phil shared a video of me and my colleague Judith in “A Merry Meeting choreographed to a Brandenburg concerto, referencing the biblical story of the pregnant Mary going to see her older cousin Elizabeth. When they met, it seems, their babes, Jesus and John the Baptist, leapt in their wombs. Now that’s kinesthetic identification!
I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the dance and Phil’s reflections on the power of Motherhood. (My body still remembers this three decades later!)