I began 2014 with a sense of diving head first into the unexpected by traveling to Africa to study music and dance. It changed my life in ways I am still processing, but it has led so far to an immense love of life and growing curiosity about being on this planet as a global citizen and especially as a woman.It is still so interesting to me that the average person connects Africa primarily to mission trips and photographing animals. Both are worthy endeavors but this heart opening immersion where we went to Guinea to study with people who ooze spirituality (and yes, the tribal spirituality and Muslim culture we were immersed in had a sincerity and depth I have not seen here ) and joy. That comes across in the music and dance as well as the daily life lived in community. I can say so much more, but right now it is sufficient to say that I will be going back there as often as I can. I have much to learn about joyful community and spiritual connectedness.
Another unexpected event was the loss of my job. An unconventional job in the healing arts in the traditional institution of healthcare. I had 10 amazing years creating spaces of healing with music for patients and their families, supporting co worker burn out and creating and growing many programs, some nationally acknowledged. This was an extremely painful loss as I lived and breathed this work and absolutely loved my job.
In the midst of my heart blown open by Africa, my world shaken upside down by the job loss, I left the church.Not just leaving my congregation to go to another, but leaving the church as an institution itself. Make no mistake, I am not an agnostic. I wholeheartedly believe and love Sacred Mystery. I had felt hope for sometime that the congregation I was joyfully enveloped in was heading in the direction of the progressive Emerging Church movement. Outside the box. Dynamic worship with art and real relevant messages for this time. Rethinking Church. Moving outside the walls. Embracing in community all brothers and sisters regardless of economic status, sexual orientation. Living life together in a neighborhood and city in need of a healing, positive presence. A joyful presence. A presence that would both witness suffering and walk with those in their loss and their rejoicing. When this became obvious that the momentum toward this had slowed or perhaps even stalled I felt stuck. I felt like I needed to go somewhere.
What emerged for me with the loss of the job was that I could still do what I did as a healer, an artist, a creator, a connector, an activist. I could do that with even more freedom outside the confines of the institution with its myriad of rules and regulations. With the support of many, I am setting out to do this with no small amount of time spent on my cushion seeking Gods voice to guide me amidst the voices of doubt and fear that encourage me to live small.
A similar thing emerged with church. I have belonged to a traditional church most of my life except when I was following the Grateful Dead and being immersed in the party scene. Another blog for another time….maybe…..;)
I realized that God is living and breathing and moving throughout my life and others constantly. I don’t need the official blessing or support of the church to be in community loving people and heeding the call to joyfully serve. I can be in spiritual community in many different ways, including with my silly snacking friends! So reading, worshipping, breaking bread, yoga class, opening my home. It is all worship.
EarthSchool has so much to teach me yet and my lesson this year which I feel called to extend into the next is Trust. Trust and Allow. Surrender and Engage.
This year also brought another surgery for my daughter, my son graduating Highschool, moving out of the house, getting an awesome job with a dynamic faith community that is also teaching me a lot. 2014 saw my husband at age 59 graduating from Yoga Teacher Training, our new addition to our home with WanMei living with us for a year here from China. Healing. Growing. Mourning. Celebrating.
In the midst of all of this is Grace surrounding us. Surrounding the people in the institutions. Surrounding those who are outside by choice or not.
Trust and Allow. Happy New Year!