Letter to Hidden Monastery: 1/17 God annoints. Humans Ordain
Dear Hidden Monastery,
What empowers, protects, and assures you of blessing today?
I just returned from Washington DC. So incredibly inspiring. I dedicated my march to Anne Marbury Hutchinson, an ancestor that Kate and I share. Anne was the first theologian and early Boston midwife. The Puritan elite politically exiled her and her family and excommunicated her from the church for her stance on grace and equal rights. She and her husband were instrumental in creating the first document on separation of church and state in their new state, Rhode Island.
I walked with Octopus Wisdom, She who spreads tentacles everywhere, touching the deep consciousness of Gaia rising. That’s my daughter on the right and Kate Amoss, holding the Octopus sign.
I danced with InterPlayers and made a bridge over the white house. I witnessed and was part of something that has never happened before.
We are scared. When fear is everywhere how do sensitive spirited leaders embody change?
We need all our resources… every way of finding grace in the midst of madness.
We need our truest ways of praying-singing, dancing, making art, ritual.
We need the grounding, growing resources of loving community.
We need to clarify who to follow, who embodies the change to which we aspire.
We need daily practices that confirm the purpose of a holy life: to create, play, and rest.
We need solitude, simplicity, and recovery time.
We need to listen to nightmares and good dreams and to share them.
On Christmas Day I dreamed that I levitated.
A bunch of long time artist friends were sitting around on the floor of Pilgrim Hall, the old beloved sacred dance sanctuary that was recently destroyed by fire. I was in their midst in a teaching moment when I instinctively levitated. I stopped midair like an angel in an old painting, my feet planted firmly over everyone’s head. Once I made my point, like the next move in a dance, I came down. I levitated to demonstrate what a 100 percent YES to soul consciousness looks like. “It’s not about matter! Matter doesn’t matter! Soul. Love. That’s what matters!” I said. I knew the double entendre at play and how audacious it was to levitate given my tendencies towards grandiosity. But, I needed something extreme to convey the urgency about the physical commitment we now need if we are to say YES to soul on a new level.
Oh my. Levitation?
As a human I can get confused between protecting everyone and real leading. How should I read this dream? Why did I have this dream on Christmas morning? Was it a gift?
As an artist I’ve trained to let go of other’s thoughts about my leading. As a “sensitive” I’ve claimed that voices, presences, and invisible helpers guide me. As a spiritual being I pray with every fiber, in love with One who loves me more. As a child of a faith lineage I take the community and words of my tradition seriously and live into them with body, mind, heart and spirit. In response wild, powerful things occur to me.
The Maxwell Leadership Bible defines anointing as “God’s intimate presence and enabling power.” Anointing is direct, personal, and embodied. To know you are anointed is a mystery that leaves you dancing with all of Life. It’s like having gold run through one’s veins at least a little bit of the time.
The Divine loves to anoint each of us each and does so in a way that accommodates each person’s bodyspirit. One person might be powerfully imprinted in a singular event; another might feel the YES spring up and pulse like a heartbeat. Another might carry the YES in a song sung in us from before we were born.
If you feel Something YESful, High, Grounded and Loving, you might be anointed. You were made for this YES. Living into that is what it means to be ‘ensouled.” To live from the YES in your soul as much as you are able.
Your way of leading may be quiet. No matter what others say you might need to be alone with what moves you. Or it may be complex and activating. You may be trying to figure out how to both follow and lead with your inner Source. It is said that with God you can move mountains. So you try. Though it feels completely impossible and not like what “normal people do,” you tussle with your inner impulses and the hand you are dealt.
I don’t think about my big motives with my head, Yet everyday I attempt to “Hold Dance and Religion Together,” “ Foster Freedom for myself and All People,” “Put family first.” or, whatever it is that day. I don’t usually worry about how I am doing. I just know these are my holy guidance system.
For anyone who develops a relationship with God/dess/ness, being anointed is the blessing we receive. Most days though we feel like we are a little hard of hearing around the Holy.
Our spiritual director might need to remind, like mine did, “You are anointed, dear one.”
In my religious tradition we didn’t talk much about the anointing thing. No one was ever that special even though everyone could be a saint in the making. Confusing.
It turns out that the history of anointing arose as a common practice for shepherds and their sheep. When ticks and lice get into sheep ears it can kill a sheep. So shepherds poured oil on the sheep’s head to make the wool slippery, causing insects to slide off. From this, anointing the heads of the flock became symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment.
I want every sheep among us to feel anointed and protected and blessed by the Sacred In All Things. If it’s not important to them to be anointed that’s perfectly fine.
On the other and some of us have a bad case of being anointed and still don’t know it. Our heads are sticky with it all and we feel quite out of place in the coifed communities in which we travel.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place where we could say, “Look I know this is weird, but I’m listening to the Great Whosever and I think I am supposed to Love Life back in a particular way.” Then, people would gather round and pour oil on our heads and hold us for a bit. This would help keep the nasty inner lice that want to crawl inside our head out of our ears. Maybe we would get anointed annually just to keep the ticks from taking over. We would be blessed and protected, and empowered.
What if everyone could be anointed for the way they listen to God?
What if being anointed was even more important that being ordained or whatever the parallel is in your religious tradition?
I knew that I was a bit “touched” before I got ordained. But, you just don’t say that. Especially since in the church in 1980 a female was still lucky to be invited to lead anything, especially not a dancer. (That is not too long ago.)
But, things lined up. Some folks saw that I was onto something and that I was listening. I got ordained.
You’d think ordination would help you figure out all this God-human stuff. But it gets even more complicated when you get ordained. You have vows to keep as you move between a “traditional” institution, your inner authority and the accountability and grounding of the actual communal body, the people. I can be a tense dance whatever discipline you choose.
When my “ordained” “certifiable” authority took hold, my anointed work turned out to be antithetical to current norms. I’ll never forget the donor to my church who said flat out, “Who ordained you?” If this happens to you your way of listening to God can turn you into a stinker. Some people really strong reactions to me. Even if they believed in what I was doing I knew it was hard for them to join me. Why should they?
This was not my idea of a fun time. I went off on my own when I realized I needed to create the world I wanted and not just beat on the church door.
One woman said that God anoints. Human beings ordain.
In my ordination vowed to be accountable to my religious community. They vowed to support me. That didn’t happen. Like a person who idealistically marries for the wrong reason, I discovered that I was vowed to ways of working against the body, universal love, and the full dance of life.
This is hard. I am in love with the wisdom of Christ’s care, love, communion, initiations, and the cycles of ritual prayer. Although I found in my tradition the mystic dance at the center of all creation, I also saw the the human-designed patriarchal, hierarchical, anti-Semitic, white protestant stoicism encoded in my church culture. These codes and forms are antagonistic to the dancing prayer. My people pretty much live in the Anti-Dance. Jesus Dancing Body is kept an arms length away. Hold Dance and Religion Together?
Jesus said, “Who does not dance, does not know what comes to pass.” For me the dance is the alpha and omega. To refuse it is to refuse the greatest teacher on our planet, a wisdom of the body that perfectly co-creates us in synchronous communion with Earth’s beloveds. The indigenous people’s are the few who still carry this cultural intelligence.
Right after Hurricane Katrina hit I was ready to flip some temple tables. I couldn’t “stand it.” The Protestant inheritance in the body politic was slow and unresponsive. In a nation created through its genocide I was utterly disturbed. Right then my denomination asked me to fill out the forms to keep my ordination in good standing. To be faithful to the Anointer, I went the other way, I renounced my ordination. This took all the effort and energy of a divorce.
Except here’s the deal. Just as marriage sculpts and authorizes a body, so does ordination. The authority that grew in me didn’t go away. Oddly, it grew.
I still live a vowed life. The deep body wisdom of the family of faiths still means everything to me. They are still the closest I have to Divine Intelligence in a large group. And, I think we need religious community more than ever now. What a contradiction I am!
I love that my tradition asks me to live in intimate health with people and to extend love beyond borders. So, I do. I remain in church. But at the same time I feel no obligation to the practices and languages that divide and delay the dance of Love and Justice.
Almost no one in my church knows any of this. I rarely share my thoughts with them on the problematic genocidal poetics about the spoken and lived theologies implicit in certain code words and rituals that we embody. Still, I keep my heart there.
Why? I have new vows: No anger. Getting angry causes me to lose clarity. When I get on my high horse for too long, I get addicted to my idealism. I start to play God. I always regret it. I also vow to include everything that has ever been a part of me. This includes my ordination, community, and family. I abandon nothing because God hasn’t. If it gets too, too hard, I let the Divine take it all. In fact saying the serenity prayer I say,
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
…. and to hand it over.
Some say that God ordains. That might be true too.
In spite of my authority woes there are plenty of signs that I am tapping a higher authority. I know that when I pray for people I am doing something I was made to do. I have no qualms about invoking spiritual intelligence. For me it is the SUM of all intelligence whether religious or not.
I know when I lead from dance in an online dance chapel I feel calm. This is a big sign to me.
Recently my ordained and anointed bodies came together with the help of Sean a Unitarian minister, transgendered activist and teacher. I had been his teacher as he transitioned.
We found each other at the Parliament of World Religions. What a joy to dance with him around the indigenous fire at the end of the women’s peace walk. Later at my performance presentation he placed a green stole in my hands.
“I want you to have this,” he said.
Unfolding it I saw a tree, a river, and a field of green, some of my spiritual touchstones. Not knowing what to say, I put it on. Sean said that the stole was given to him at his ordination. That’s when he said,
“I now give it to you. You don’t need to be ordained. I am sharing my ordination with you.” Sean ordained me that day into the power of WE.
Later that morning Piute Holy Man, Arnold Thomas ordained 1000s of us. Holding up an ear of corn he commissioned us to Love Mother Earth, to put her first in everything and to go and tell everyone to do this.
Who knows by what authority, what anointing the next things will happen? Just when institutions want us to be credentialed up the wazoo, millennials are abandoning the institutions. Just when the government is backfiring, our indigenous are fired up.
God anoints. Humans ordain. or the other way around when ordination is in God’s hands.
The Women’s march of January 21, 2017 was a dream come true. I think we levitated.
Now what? As Hopi elders say “There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly….Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt…The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.”
If you need to be anointed, I’ll bring the oil. Much love to you dancing people,