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.
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.
A live reading by Cynthia Winton-Henry on zoom
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!
Donations Welcome at paypal.me/cynthiawintonhenry or Venmo @Cynthia-Winton-Henry.
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
Something. Nothing. Maybe Everything. Wild Holy Power.
Leaping, Laughing, Dancing, Prancing, Fly Away!
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
Susan Pudelek, gifted Inter-religious way-finder, InterPlay leader and part of our Hidden Monastery was also interviewed by Mythos Journey. She works in the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Archdiocese of Chicago. Susan helped to bring Buddhist and Catholic Dialogue to the Vatican. Her Interior Mythos Journeys interviews are on point and beautiful. We have her to thank for connecting us to Mythos Journey.
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.
Come to the Cabaret
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
- and more…
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!