How big these hearts

December 13, 2010

We have big hearts. Big enough to reach around the world. So big we rarely give up on love. So big that sometimes sky and earth are not big enough.

Kate Amoss turned me onto The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit by Joseph Chilton Pearce. This 85 year-old elder shines light on neurocardiology and foresees a new brain that will make us more heart intelligent. The heart is smart- we have brain cells in our hearts! AND, Chilton Pearce hallmarks play as key to this evolutionary path.

Celebrating on the beachIn the center of the spiral is the heart. Our heart is in our hand. Hands speak for the heart.

Connections between us transcend theory. We engage electromagnetic currents that we sense most easily in the three feet of space around our body. But our hearts bridge greater distance, time, even life itself. Something about InterPlay enables us to open our heart a little more and consent to play. Is this why InterPlay is an international movement? Because love is happening, and if not love, some weird, delightful electromagnetic affection?

Evidence of hearts at work in the coming month include:
Masankho Banda, InterPlay ambassador, reunites with Shiphiwe, his love from 23 years ago in Malawi at Christmas.
The heart of Nika Quirk, InterPlay board president, travels to the UK to lead with support from Caroline Kiesel (Minnesota) and friends in the British Isles.
InterPlay India’s heart called Harriet Platts (Seattle), Sally Craig (DC), George Muedeking (Albuquerque), Peter and Jenny Batten (Melbourne), Trish Watts, (Sydney) Tony Hole (Adelaide) and Stephen and Cynthia (Oakland), to join Prashant Olalekar, Hazel Fernandez, and Jaime and Ligia in Mumbai, S. Gudjarat, Delhi, and Varanasi. Trish has been there six weeks coaching and playing with India leaders.
Phil and CathyAnn Beaty travel to Australia to deepen those reciprocal connections formed over twenty years.
Nadia Thalji from Brazil travels to the US for training. Her heart moved the first time she InterPlayed. This blend of creativity, community, and wisdom is her path.

I’ve barely started. It’s best not to think too much about zillions of connections and the wild ways of the heart. We can count some, but the truth is—-they workFingers in front of clouds by math we cannot calculate. In fact, someone discovered there are 50 trillion cells in the average human body. Multiply that by 6 billion people on Earth and you get about 300 sextillion cells which is also the number of stars believed to be in the universe. Unfathomable, but not to the heart.


Dancing with our Dearly Departing

April 12, 2010
Shadows on the Ground

Last Sunday, (Easter), I helped move Mom into long term “Memory” Care. Alzheimer’s disease is taking much of her memory and function. Her beloved partner, George and we, her family, carry Mom and each other through this time. It’s hard.

Aleke Banda died April 9, Friday. Mr. Banda was more than a historical, political leader for democracy in Malawi, more than an agent of policies and projects to help his people. He was Masankho’s dad. Masankho flew home to be with his family on Saturday.

Delores’ Mom died this week. Delores tends the street garden around InterPlayce. This InterPlay friend, mystic, spiritual director, gardener and writer went home to mourn with her family.

Many of you, too, carry loved ones through their great shifts, helping each other to love, live and depart. Some of you are chaplains. Some of you stand on opposite shores of loss. Some of you wonder at how it will be to cross over or assist someone else to do so.

At best, we humans dance these departures together. We go to our web of connection, sing, hold hands, hug and tell stories and dance. The web of life supports us. We say old words, old familiar prayers and poems that didn’t make as much sense before. We reach out for help.

De-part. (Part from). In Great Detachings, my heart rearranges its physical cords of connection. My muscles register absence, rawness, open to the air-ness. I feel exposed. Attachments are very physical. Groans of fatigue, the immediate tenderness in touching life with laughter, tears, even the painful piercings in the chest, the disquieting instability of lost anchors, habits, and patterns of comfort. In many ways I need to be carried. My husband drives me to work. My dishes stay longer in the sink. Time is different. My back goes out. Strength fails me. 1000 practices don’t supplant the physical transition of losing parents, jobs, homes, kids, partners. How lucky to have mates that not only walk with us, but somehow dance with us, make beauty of difficult deaths.

A generation is actively departing. Leaving? Yes. But not leaving us. The dearly departed remain with us in memory, in skin, in heart, in the earth, in heaven, in the imaginal fields of knowing, all ways. We re-member them bit by bit in a strangely different embodied way as our dearly departed now free to be ancestors, saints, beloveds, guides or silent memorial stones along our walkways.

Last friday when I learned that Masankho’s dad died, I led my InterPlay group in our usual warm up and meditative movement practice. Then, I took down from the wall a painting of Malawi dancers and placed it in the center of the floor. Above it I placed a carved Malawian head. Masankho’s Peace Ambassafor sculpture became the legs of the body before us. We invoked others making their passage. Some of us attached to the “body,” some of us attached to each other and some to the space.  With an African warrior mask also taken from the wall, Spirit processed through the space, carried by one person then another. Our honoring dance was not rehearsed but through our InterPlay practices it conveyed deep knowing. Movement and spirit, shapes and dynamics coordinated through rhythm, wind, and keyboard. When silence came, we stood, I started a song that had been important to Mr. Banda when he was a political prisoner, Amazing Grace. All voices joined in. The second time through we picked up the beat. Amazing grace carried us all.

I love the Margorie Allensworth poem,

Mourning is not forgetting
It is an undoing
Every minute tie must be untied
and something valuable recovered from the know
Blessed are they who mourn
for they shall be comforted.

Comfort takes many forms. When it dances, sings, and offers beauty of any kind, the body can often gently refashion itself. That’s how a new body slowly arises.

Blessings to all we love, present, and departing.

Condolences to Masankho at mbanda@ucandanc.org,
UCanDanc’ African Healing Arts
1185 Solano avenue
PMB 101
Albany ,  CA   94706
United States

Condolences to Delores c/o
2273 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94612
or info@interplay.org


Ancestry Matters

June 23, 2009
Delores as Family Tree

Delores as Family Tree

I was secretly ashamed of my ancestors. I had no idea who they were. Honor your elders? Respect the dead? What was there to respect?

Lineage is powerful and bodily. One might say “ancestry matters.” It’s who we are. Native Americans like Hunter Bear say ancestors, “dance from within the very essence of our own being.” The Maori in New Zealand claim ancestral energy as a fountain, a force supporting life. Mexican Dios de los Muertos altars and festivities foster grateful relationship with the deceased. African and Asian wisdom traditions rely on ancestral guidance.

Having restored connection to my ancestors, I can say that remembering my people affects prosperity, security, and community.

Masankho Banda and I began to make startling discoveries while dancing on behalf of each other’s ancestors. We witnessed disruptions in each other’s lineage and found ways to honor and repair relations with the past. Once, Masankho listened to my female ancestor who released me from “working on healing” the past. Oddly, the next thing I knew, my Mom’s partner, George, began to unravel her genealogy. We knew so little about them that it was a family joke. Astoundingly, George uncovered stories of pioneers, mayors, inmates, elites, and folks who had been “committed”. Then, he took Mom to visit every gravesite in North America. Vicariously, connection and pride grew in me. I was part of a tree that includes Wentworths, a name traced to the Magna Carta. I stem from Lutheran “Children of the Danube” immigrants.  The National Genome project confirms that my maternal DNA connects me to Ashkenazi Jews. In 2007 I traveled with Masankho back to his village in Malawi, the region of our first ancestors.

What is your family tree? Does it matter? Ra Ifagmewi Babalawo says Yes; they are “Hidden Hands, Healing Spirits.” How do we employ them? Tell their stories, sing their songs, dance with them, and give them a place of honor. Masankho and I will lead a special Untensive to do just that using the tools of InterPlay.

Honor your ancestors and the whole earth will be glad.


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