Dancing Into the Divine

Greetings!

Well, it’s summer, and now what? How do we dance our way through Coronavirus, racism, protests, Black Lives Matter, staying home, going out, wearing masks, not going to church, limited travel, and living in the unknown ? To top it all off, there have been some recent sexual allegations in my extended church community that have caused a huge upheaval among many. My heart is in shock and broken open. So many of the aspects of life and community that I relied upon are upside down, spilled out, empty, shaken. It seems that the shadows of our lives are being exposed. The jig is up. 

As I stare at what is broken, I also see the stirrings of a new birth. I see racism being addressed from our pulpits, white allyship rallying in the streets, I see the survivors of sexual abuse finding a voice and finding support, and I see the accused beginning to take the first small steps towards truth and repentance. 

It is a powerful time of falling apart and a new awareness awakening. I am in anguish and I am in awe. 

These times cry out for practices that help us see, feel, reflect, express. So, I’d like to share a short video by my close friend, Soyinka Rahim. A few years back, I produced a CD of her music called  BIBO LOVE  (which is Soyinka’s phrase calling us to ” Breathe In, Breathe Out Love. “) In the video below, she invites us to explore the interconnection of all beings in the Divine expression of LOVE . Feel free to join her in the dance!

Opportunity: If you’d like to take one more step, video yourself joining in the song and dance, then send me the video by July 13th. It will become a part of our multi-cultural video collage celebrating the Divine in all of us! ( Soyinka is also available for leading online workshops — in case you are looking for a guest in your upcoming online programming or worship!)

The feast of Pentecost celebrates the awesome experience of the Holy Spirit descending onto the disciples who are all behind locked doors. The Spirit imbues them with new gifts, energy, courage to go forth to share the Good News! The Spirit seems to be working in the breakdowns and breakthroughs that are moving in our world just now. May the story below, created with our Movement Ministry kids from St. Patrick, inspire you to move in the creative ways that the Spirit is calling you! 

Stay healthy. Sending prayers for all of you to make a difference in your world!

Blessings and love!

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing with Mary Magdalene

Greetings!

Here in Seattle, the Easter season continues with many of us sequestered in our homes, while a gorgeous array of nature’s most exquisite flowers display their finery and beckon us outdoors. In truth, it takes a bit of courage and creativity to live into the bright colors of resurrection right now, wouldn’t you say? Which brings me to Mary Magdalene . Meeting Jesus in the garden was clearly a soul-shaking, astounding and an utterly transformational pivotal moment in her being! And yet, to live into her new reality of resurrection clearly required processing the trauma of what she had witnessed and lost, as well as taking up her “new assignment.” All of this must have taken more than the 50 days of Easter!

So it seems Mary Magdalene is a perfect guide for us as we negotiate new roles and callings in our lives right now. I would like to invite you to attend an online retreat this coming Saturday, May 16th at St. Placid Priory Retreat Center. Register here. With the help of video, reflection and guided movement meditation explore your own call to encounter the living Christ and carry his message to the world. I filmed this storydance video and movement workshop in 2008, and while we are finding new ways to play and pray at home, this seems the perfect time to re-encounter this material together online. Join us!

Sneak a peek at the video below!

The season of Easter continues to call us to find life within our challenges. I’d like to share a piece that I created from home for our Easter Vigil celebration – Come to the Water. May we find our way to the pool of grace to carry us through to our “new assignments.” 

Stay healthy. Sending prayers for all of you needing extra graces in this season.

Blessings and love!

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing From Home to the World

Greetings!

Blessings of Easter to you! What a strange time this is … so much change in our daily routines, and a call to connect our hearts with everyone around the globe in both strength and vulnerability. We might remember a wonderful quote by poet Alice Walker – “Hard times require furious dancing.” Furious or flowing, in grief or gratitude, I’ve discovered that dance can help me engage all of myself to respond to the demands of this time with prayerfulness and playfulness. Have you had a chance to dance?

For me, since all of our Lent and Holy Week services were celebrated online, I ended up creating a number of movement prayer videos for our parish, and I’d love to share some of these with you so you can dance along! The video below is a dance prayer based on American Sign Language that we created for Good Friday. You can pray along as you learn the signs … in whatever tender grief or life challenges this time might be serving up, it’s always a good reminder to place our lives in the hands of our loving God.

Abba, Abba (Ps. 31)

After the starkness of Good Friday, I always enjoy helping our community to enter the beauty of Easter by engaging our youth in the story of Genesis. This year, we couldn’t gather at church, and so I called together many of our families over Zoom, and we enacted a wonderful version of the Genesis story from our homes for Easter Vigil! Please pray along with us in our new modality! And God saw that it was good!

Upcoming Schedules? Ha! Ha!

Wow, who knows anything about our upcoming schedules? As you might have guessed, I’m not going to Uganda in May! Perhaps next year … we will see. Our overseas trips to the UK in the fall will likely be rescheduled.

Meanwhile, it is the perfect time for online courses … zoom, zoom, zoom! Mary Magdalene is calling me to help bring her gifts to us in this time of challenge and new life. I will be leading a Zoom Mini-retreat on Dancing with Mary Magdalene on Saturday May 16th, 2:00 – 4:00 pm (Pacific time) sponsored by the Priory Spirituality Center. I will send more info. in my next note!

I also wanted to mention that our dear InterPlay community is offering many online options for dancing, praying and playing from home! Please check out the InterPlay website for daily dance opportunities. Also available are Online Dance Chapels offered by Cynthia Winton-Henry and other spirited InterPlayers. Let’s dance whenever and however we can!

The message of Easter continues to seek the light through our darkness, and find the invitation to resurrection in the midst of our challenges. Here is a rousing rendition of Roll Away the Stone, recorded “from home” by our parish choir, and interspersed with American Sign Language of me dancing in the Holy Land. 

May all our stones be rolled away! Take good care, stay healthy, and dance on!

Love,

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing the Call

Blessings of the New Year!  

We’ve made it through the darkest night and now the days are gradually lengthening with the returning light.  As much upheaval as we experience in our world, the seasons continue to turn and draw us into their mystery.  And as we follow the liturgical cycles, we read the stories of Jesus’ Baptism and God’s call for him to embrace his purpose on earth, and we reflect on how God calls each of us to our purpose in life.  I love dancing the story of the Call of the Disciples with the youth at my home parish!  “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of people!”

I wanted to share with you how God has been calling me … Fr. Centurio from Uganda has invited me to come to the archdiocese of Tororo to teach the youth the art and prayer of liturgical movement.  Wow!  What an amazing call … to share faith with children from a dancing culture, and to build bridges through the art and prayer of movement!  I have invited my dear friend ValLimar Jansen and we are making plans for a trip there in May.  Please pray for us!  We are called! 

And back in the Northern hemisphere, as we move to February, it’s almost St. Brigid’s Day!   In Ireland, St. Brigid is the most well-known of the saints (after St. Patrick), and her feast on February 1st is the harbinger of spring, the beginning of the stirrings of new life that begin to poke their noses up from the ground.  As Brigid is the patron saint of midwives and the tender of thresholds, she supports us all in the new births that we are called to embrace. 

St. Brigid is also one of the Celtic Saints featured in our recent DVD publication with Abbey of the Arts.  I’m taking this opportunity once again to share our teaser video … still makes me smile! 

As we close this time, I’d like to share a video of a playful performance piece that I got to offer in the Holy Land at the famous site of Qumran, near the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered!  This story depicts Jesus’ journey to discover his life call … and to be Baptized by John as he embarked on his ministry. 

 

May you, too, hear the Spirit’s voice nudging you beyond your comfort zone, to dance into your own holy call. 

Blessings!  

Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Reflections on the Dancing Journey

As I sit down to reflect with you now, we are six Sundays through the season of Easter.  What a season of fullness I have been immersed in these past few months!  I’ve been hoping for a window of contemplative time to open – in order to officially inaugurate my new blog, and share with you some of the dance of life!  If you are willing, I invite you to take a deep breath with me … and let it out with a long sigh.  This is one of my favorite InterPlay ways of letting go of all that is bouncing around inside … and becoming present to the gift of this moment.  I share this practice now with you!

So, the story goes like this … in Lent, as is my custom,  I traveled to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress where I danced at six liturgies and offered two workshops throughout the course of three days. A whirlwind! In my workshop entitled: Mourning into Dancing we honored the ancient Biblical tradition of grieving through embodied prayer. I invited all 65 participants to dance through the story of Lazarus with me. We divided the group and – Martha, Mary, Jesus, the disciples, Lazarus – all came to life in a kind of movement choir embodying each character in voice and movement. We dipped into the depths of grief – improvising a melody of mourning. We danced Martha’s anger, Mary’s heart-break and Jesus’ tears. And finally, we danced the surprise of new life as Lazarus came forth from his tomb and untwirled from his linen wrappings. I was very touched by the willingness of all the participants to enter into such a depth of expression and prayer in the midst of our hour and a half workshop! Such is the gift of embodied prayer.

One of the most exquisite experiences of LA Congress is gathering in the Arena along with 8,000 other people! To have the honor of dancing on behalf of all those assembled is an exquisite joy. And to be able to pray through the Eucharist together – with processions and incense, music and movement, deep quiet and full-bodied celebration is a true gift of experiencing the Body of Christ gathered in faith. To share with you a glimpse of this journey – take a look at the footage from our Closing Eucharist. About four minutes in to the following video, you will see the dance piece – So Beautiful – which we shared as a Song/Dance of Thanksgiving after Communion. May you be blessed by a bit of this beauty!

And because it is late now … I will leave the rest of the story for the next installment.   Blessings and talk to you again soon! -Betsey

(c) Betsey Beckman, The Dancing Word, 2010

Welcome to my new blog!

Thanks for visiting my blog at The Dancing Word. We’re just finishing up the final touches on this brand new site, and more blogs will be found here soon. Thanks for coming and please come back again soon. Until then, you can learn more about who I am here.