Dancing at the Threshold

It is indeed a time of threshold. With the turning of the seasons, on August 28th, we held our last Mass at our beloved St. Patrick Church in Seattle. Such beauty and depth we have shared through for 105 years, and now our doors have come to a close. In the midst of heartbreak, we are in awe of the heart-felt and conscientious process we have been through to honor our history and dance into new birthings.

We are so grateful that much grace is attending us as we are welcomed into our new home at St. Joseph Church, a Jesuit Parish up the hill. As you probably remember, I have had such a long journey with the Jesuits, including two Jesuit priest uncles, my young theatre experience at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, my years with Fr. Michael SparoughSJ in the Fountain Square Fools, and my degrees from Georgetown University and Seattle University. That’s a lot of history! – and gives hope for new Jesuit collaborations! 

Now it’s time to look to the future, and below, I share a number of opportunities for you to dance along with me in some upcoming adventures for the Fall and the year ahead. In the meantime, if you’d like to witness our Pilgrimage from St. Pat’s to St. Joe’s, here is a sweet video of our own journey with the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Stay tuned for new installments to come!

Pilgrimage from St. Pat’s to St. Joe’s | August 21st, 2022

Celebrating Hildegard of Bingen

Saturday, September 17th

At Abbey of the Arts, we are offering a monthly series of Zoom retreats on the mystics entitled The Mystical Heart: Love as a Creative Force.

Our first retreat of the season will honor Hildegard of Bingen, and will be held on her feast day! Christine Valters Paintner and I have led several pilgrimages to Hildegard’s hometown in Germany, and we will be imparting our love for Hildegard as our patron saint of the arts. Would be lovely to spend the morning with you! Hope you can join us. 

Click here for more info!

SpiritPlay

SpiritPlay has become a staple of Seattle’s InterPlay offerings! Now in our 22nd year, we have developed a wonderful community of faith and foolishness. This monthly series is for those grounded in Christianity who long for the spontaneity of InterPlay to help us navigate these crazy times! We’ll be diving into the lectionary, exploring sacred stories, dancing through the cycle of seasons, loosening our tongues, singing our souls, and improvising in prayer. After 2.5 years on Zoom … we are returning to our live meetings, for our sanity & sanctity – whee! Calling all angels– let’s dance, play and pray!

Click here fore more information.

She Is Remembered

One of the pieces of completion with St. Pat’s that I helped to foster was a gorgeous CD of songs written by my close friend and colleague, Laura Ash who was our St. Patrick’s Music Director. I was able to produce this CD for Laura as a parting gift to our community. You can listen to this awesome CD here – She is Remembered.

I am so proud of Laura! The other piece of good news is that since the St. Joseph Music Director was retiring this summer, Laura is now the new Music Director at St. Joe’s and this will be such a wonderful bridge going forward!

Birthing the Holy: Singing with Mary and the Sacred Feminine

And now, a celebration of another CD release – our newest from Abbey of the Arts! I spent many hours midwifing such amazing songs for this new album! Each song explores a different title for Mary, and her embodiment of the sacred feminine. Besides assembling the album, the songs I helped to produce include:

Black Madonna (Soyinka Rahim) 

O Viridissima Virga (Laura Ash) 

Stella Maris (Gina Salá) 

Mary, Queen of Angels (Lorraine Bayes) 

Please check out this beautiful collection here!

Also, consider our Birthing the Holy Advent retreat, which will include many of these songs with new dance films being developed as we speak!

Spain Pilgrimage Next Year!

After rescheduling our Spain pilgrimage, I am super excited to walk (and dance!) in the footsteps of St. Ignatius!  Our new dates are:

June 12 -23rd, 2023! 

Added to our leader team is my good friend & spirited musician Bob McAffery-Lent (recently retired from being St. Joe’s Music Director.) More assurance for good prayer and good times on pilgrimage! 

Pdf flyer here.

Register & more info here.

In Closing

Irish poet, John O’Donohue writes “At any time, you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up.”

For our final Mass at St. Pat’s, our hearts were truly woken up! With this stirring, our movement ministry danced a beautiful rendition of St. Patrick’s Breastplate entitled The Deer’s Cry. Since we have a large deaf community, we often incorporate American Sign Language into our movement ministry. Please pray with us this final prayer, a proclamation of faith, and the assurance that the Spirit of Christ dances with us into new places. As the Irish Blessing reminds us – “Until we meet again.” 

Blessings on your thresholds, my friends!

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing into New Life

Greetings!

Happy Easter! New life seems to be springing up all over! I am so grateful that we got to be back in church celebrating the season in full style at our dear St. Patrick’s Parish. All the joy that you see pictured in our Easter photo is also bittersweet, as it is almost certain that this is our last Easter together at St. Pat’s, and our parish is scheduled to be closed in the next few months. We are heartbroken that the Archdiocese is (so far) not willing to consider creative options in how a parish is run as the numbers of priests are diminishing. Sigh! Our parish is so dedicated to the creative vision of Vatican II, but the church takes a LONG time to live into emergent visions! 

Meanwhile, I wanted to share that St. Pat’s has been invited to merge with our neighboring Jesuit parish, St. Joseph Church. In the midst of our grief is the fact that a new pastor has been named at St. Joe’s, Fr. Chris Cartwright, and he happens to be an old friend of mine from our days of being in the Fountain Square Fools liturgical story theatre company 42 years ago. The Spirit is full of surprises! This Lent, I got to embody the story of Lazarus with the help of Fr. Chris at St. Joe’s. May new life abound! I will keep you posted on our church journey.

Because this is likely the last time we get to celebrate Easter Vigil at our beloved St. Patrick Catholic Church in Seattle, I wanted to post a link to our Easter Vigil service where we interpret five of the readings in movement! Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah (Come to the Water), Ezekiel and the Gospel come to life with American Sign Language, music, dance, drama, incense, angels, kites and more. The video is cued up to our Genesis story, which is full of color and beauty! Feel free to scroll through our offerings to catch glimpses of Easter beauty.

Blessings of the dancing Christ to you, my friends! 

With love,

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing in Yellow Boots

Greetings!


Well, a brand new year has been birthed. How is yours going? Our Christmas called for snow boots! First of all, we were back in church dancing with boot-clad shepherds for our Gospel story. What a delight to gather in full celebration! The next day, the snows descended and I had a chance to trudge about in the winter wonderland and even do some sledding – whee! 

After a wondrous time reuniting with our church community, I’ve been a bit forlorn that our plans for dancing in church (and also across Spain!) have been curtailed in omicron caution. Simultaneously, our yard filled up with melting snow and much rain … So what is next? Always seeking the path of creative expression, can we find our ways to dance … even in yellow boots? (Scroll down to the bottom for a little taste of dancing with the unexpected!) 

As we roll and adjust with all that life brings, I also share a few opportunities with you for dancing in the next few months. Let’s kick up our heels … and let the dancing Spirit guide us!

As many of you know, I live on Martha Lake just north of Seattle. There are occasions when our lake is inundated and begins taking over our yard, which is always a bit concerning! Just as we were facing this reality, I was asked by my friend, Celeste Snowber if I could record a minute of dancing for The Compassion Project. (Click here if you’d like to participate!) So, the Spirit showed up with a beautiful sunny day for playing with the unexpected gifts of life. May you enjoy a bit of dancing in yellow sunshine to brighten your day. 

Blessings!

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing with the Light

Greetings!

Blessings of this holy season to you! I hope you had a joyous Thanksgiving. Mine was small, but heartfelt! Now we are in the time of lengthening nights and deepening darkness. Are you able to keep your flame alive and hold your candle in the dark? Clearly, our world faces ongoing challenges, and I get tired of keeping vigilant! But at the same time, I know that I have my own unique call, as you do. How is that flame dancing inside of you? How are you called to let it light the way for someone near you, someone far from you? As we dance with differences in our families and in our world, may the Holy One stir inside you, and come to birth in ways that bring radical grace to our world.

Below you’ll find some ways to dance into the darkness carrying the light. Come dance with me!

As we close 2021, I wanted to share that one of my projects this past year has been to go through MANY videos of my dance ministry over the past 4 decades and to digitize the files. I have discovered some surprising gems! As we feel the stirring of new life within this Christmas season, let’s leap like John the Baptist to greet our cousin, the Christ! Here’s a little snippet of me leaping 25 years ago … “if I fly to the sunrise, or sail beyond the seas, still I find you there.” 

May new life leap within you this Christmas, my friends!

Betsey

Dancing with Angels

Greetings!

When is the last time you were visited by an angel? Angels come in many forms and expressions! Last year at this time I was lamenting that our son was departing Seattle and moving to Idaho. Heartbreak! Now, one year later, I’ve had a chance to visit our son on his 10 acres off-grid mountain property and taste the special beauty of Sandpoint, ID. With the help of angelic wings, I was able to do some filming on Chaz’s beautiful land and at nearby Lake Pend Oreille and to invite another young friend of mine (Duncan Menzies) to dance with me an Invocation of the Archangels. The sacred wings were blessing us in this new birthing!

Meanwhile, this summer, while visiting my husband’s family in Detroit, my nephew, Jacob Bommarito offered to film a new piece for us based on the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary. My young niece, Bella Bommarito, got to sit in as Mary, and this time, I got to dance the angel. This video and song anticipates our forthcoming album on Mary that will be birthed in 2022. Angels abound! 

As we move towards the holidays, our world cries out for angels to help us navigate new challenges around our globe and tend together this place we call home. May you find wings wrapping round you in your holidays ahead, and find your own call to be angels for one another. The age-old theological question was: how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Let’s invite them all to dance with us!

Many times in this blog I share with you my ministry at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Seattle. It’s been my home base for the past 30 years, and I am so grateful for our creative journey of faith together! I have mentioned that we have been given word from the Archbishop that it is time for our parish to close and we are invited to merge with a nearby parish. It is a time of great upheaval for us as we seek ways to creatively respond to this directive. In the meantime, we continue to pray and dance. Here is a beautiful offering from our Feast of St. Francis celebration with my friend, Lorraine Bayes, and her beautiful feather wings. May you, too, be surrounded with such blessings and walk in beauty! 

With love,

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing Down the Rabbit Hole!

Greetings!

Who are we? Where are we? Have we fallen down the rabbit hole? Our world cries out with fires and floods … our families struggle with finding protocols that allow both connection and safety, we embrace the gifts of summer while bracing for transitions to indoor realities this fall. Can we go ahead with our retreat? Workshop? Funeral? Party? So many questions! 

Meanwhile, I take a moment to give thanks for the amazing gifts of summer. Every August since I was born I have I spent time on the shores of Lake Michigan with my extended family, at the place where my mother and father met as teenagers and found their summer romance. This year, in the safety of each other’s company, I got to dive into the story of Alice in Wonderland with six of my grandnieces & nephews. Betsey’s Corner House Summer Camp! I was in heaven creating with my kidlings … as ever since I was their age I have found the joy of creating performances for family, reflecting back the gifts and challenges, hardships and humor of this thing called life. 

The art of video provides great opportunity for site-specific performance with all ages. Eleven-year-old Alice faces the challenges of quarantine, the white rabbit lures her down the rabbit hole, she finds curious connections with Mr. Mouse, the Caterpillar, Mad Hatter, Mock Turtle, and has her own encounter with the Queen of Hearts and infamous Jabberwock! (See photo above … that’s me whiffling through the tulgey wood!)

We can get stuck in the rabbit holes of depression, conspiracy, racism, fear … and we can also take up the challenges of facing our shadow selves in the underworld in order to bring forth new creative possibilities. I’ve found that getting lost in the creative process can be a wonderful antidote to the suffering of our world, and can help us find resources to go forth and make a difference! 

Meanwhile, my beloved church, St. Patrick’s here in Seattle is facing a likely closure/ merger with another parish, and so we seek the creative path that Spirit is calling forth. Facing the Jabberwocks of patriarchy and clericalism, and not being controlled by voices that cry out “Off with her head!” bring forth new dreams of creative community in the midst of loss. (If you’d like to join us for the celebration of the Feast of St. Francis on Oct. 3rd with special movement offering, you can click here. Will keep you posted on our unfolding future!)

Let’s do our best to call upon the humor of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee to keep us laughing on the way! Meet me at the bottom of this email if you’d like to see our actual production of Alice in Wonderland!

I am excited to share our latest summer production! (Some of you have been following our family videos for the past few years …) As Alice says, things keep getting “curiouser and curiouser!” This year’s offering features our biggest cast of all … six kids & assorted aunts, great aunts & uncles too! The entire piece is 35 minutes long, so feel free to just catch glimpses … or to wholeheartedly dance down this rabbit hole with us for some whimsy and delight! May we all return to our lives with wisdom and courage born of deep dives.

Love and blessings, friends! 

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM