Sunday, December 2, 2012

Let Joy Be Unconfined

Our gathering began with a poem from the Persian mystic Hafiz. "How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being. Otherwise we all remain too frightened." We proceeded, then, to immerse ourselves in that light…and to dance!
Dance has long been a path of worship, remembrance and communion. The Dances of Universal Peace are a particularly lovely way to dance the sacred. The Dances are described on the DUP website as “spiritual practice in motion. Drawing on sacred phrases, scripture and poetry of the many spiritual traditions,” chant, music and movement blend to create, “a living experience of unity, peace and integration.”
For this dance, Kalima led us through a series of dances, each a prayer engaging our whole beings~~body, mind, heart and soul. True to the DUP philosophy, our words sprang from various spiritual traditions, including Christian, Native American, Jewish, and Buddhist. Some dances were energetic, others serene. All were beautiful.
One particular dance stays with me...
Standing in a circle, we hold hands and begin a slow weave step to the left. Twice, in rhythmic melody, we chant, “The ocean refuses no river, no river.” We then drop hands and, raising arms and eyes to the heavens, turn in place, singing twice a soaring Arabic chant, “Ishq Allah mabood lillah. Il Allah,” which poetically translates as “God is Love, Lover and Beloved. Only God exists.” Perhaps it is the power of that spinning movement~~arms exalting, gaze turned upward~~or maybe it is the power within the words themselves~~God is Love, all and everywhere. Whatever the cause, as this two~part dance continues, energy building as group and solitary circles turn and turn and turn again, I am transported…transported back home to what is: God, by whatever name, song, or step.
The dancers in our circle ranged in age from 13 to 67 and arrived with life experiences as varied as those ages. As we danced, though, differences melted away. As in the opening poem, we felt the encouragement of light on our being, and fear~~in the form of shyness, skepticism, personality differences, individual woes~~loosened its hold on us. As the rose, our hearts opened. We received beauty and freely give it back to the world.
In this moving meditation, our whole~being prayer, we experience and expressed he sentiment of the brilliant dancer, Isadora Duncan. "The Dance is love, it is only love...and that is enough."

So, dear ones, dance...and may your steps be joyful!


Loanne Marie

PS. The title of this column comes from Lord Byron. The full line is, "On with the dance! let joy be unconfined." Yes!

PPS. And here's a link to a page from the DUP website that contains two lovely videos of folks dancing.


Charlotte said...

I loved the "dance" essay. I am going to re-read it and try the video next. I would like to share a quote that I have cherished for years. I have a photo of Martha Graham hanging prominently with the following quote:

"Every soul is a circus
Every mind is a tent
Every heart is a sawdust ring
Where the circling race is spent."

Martha Graham choreographed this modern dance using the words of Vachel Lindsay's poem. As Martha so eloquently stated, "Throughout the circus of her life every woman is her own most appreciative spectator."

Loanne Marie said...

I find myself responding to that last line with, "Hopefully!!!" Too many of us haven't been encouraged to be an "appreciative spectator" to our lives or to be a fully engaged being. So let's all of us~~male and female~~honor these journeys of ours, these sawdust rings of ours. And let us dance our hearts out!

Thanks, Charlotte, for reading and for writing!

Katy said...

Wonderful essay! My grandmother was in fact a dancer with Isadora Duncan while Isadora was in charge and dancing with the company still. My mother followed her footsteps as a modern dancer and then later wrote ACROBATS OF THE GODS ~ Dance and Transformation. Dance is indeed a flowing river uniting us to the larger universe.

"To receive the energy of earth, of nature, and send it up to heaven...letting it course through the body...that is the ministry of a dancer." as quoted by Anna Kisselgoff


Loanne Marie said...

What a wonderful quote! I think energy is coursing through us~~in both directions and none~~all the time. Ah, but to be CONSCIOUS of that reality, to allow it, to welcome it, with intention...could be the ministry of us all.

Thanks so much for writing, and especially for giving us a personal connection to those who consciously danced the Love!

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