Dancing Into the Unknown


I’m with you in the unknown right now. Listening, watching, lighting candles, breathing, praying for our country, praying for our world. And life goes on. Children wear costumes, we create altars for our ancestors and loved ones who have passed on, and we prepare for holidays in some new stripped down version that honors the upheaval of our world. Big sigh! 

I remember the first time I took a class in improvisation … and I was amazed to find that I could create a dance unplanned and in the moment. Wow! I could trust myself to let something come through me? I realize now that in the challenges of a changing world, immersing myself in the act of creation gives me joy, energy, and helps ground me in the gifts of Spirit moving through me. The creative process engages me, transforms me and invites me into collaborations that go beyond the differences that divide. Let us call upon that creative Spirit to guide us into the days ahead .. dancing, singing, praying, taking action, caring for our Earth and for each other. Below you’ll find lots of opportunities for praying with the creative spirit. And at the very bottom … my latest choreography for celebrating St. Francis and our kinship with all creation in the song – All God’s Critters. We are indeed God’s creative critters … let us bellow, howl, yowl and chirp and dance all of our deepest prayers! Amen!

Earth Monastery Prayer Cycle, Podcast, CD, and DVD

I’m so excited to announce a whole new way for you to pray with our latest offering … it’s a podcast and it’s free! At Abbey of the Arts, we are deeply shaped by the rhythms of daily prayer that arise from monastic practices, and we have woven together a wonderful resource of seven mornings and seven evenings for you to pray with us. Click here to find the podcast series, and to learn more about the resource for you and/or your community. You’ll have the chance to be led in readings, songs, responses and dances, all within the context of daily prayer. This podcast accompanies our Earth Monastery CD and Earth Monastery DVD And here is a taste of our podcasts to help calm your spirit in times of upheaval!

All God’s Critter’s

I’m so happy to share this playful piece with you! In COVID times, only a few of us are back at church, so I had to come up with a new way of celebrating the Feast of St. Francis … here you’ll find all kinds of members of our community joining in: kids, youth, adults, (including members of our deaf-blind and L’Arche community), all celebrating the gifts of our kinship with creation. May this prayer be a reminder that we are all one family … all God’s critters sharing one planet together. May we dance together in love!

Dancing with you,


Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing Through Our Days to Tomorrow!


Meet Ms. Hannigan. (Remember her from the story Annie?) She’s had a hard-knock life. And she takes it out on all those kids! She has a certain amount of power, but she’s unsettled and unhappy. She’s stuck in the system, and she abuses the system; she’s lured by money and lies in order to gain more money.

Seems these days we are all having our version of a hard-knock life! Can life get any crazier? Global pandemic, anti-racism protests, hours of zooming, a contentious presidential election, the loss of the inimitable Ruth Bader Ginsberg, socially distanced church services, huge fires here on the west coast … and each of us can add our own particular family and life challenges to our list of crazy. 

And perhaps in all of this, we are being asked to look at the ways that we are Ms. Hannigan, holding tight to our little spheres of influence and power, while the world is asking us to release our comfortable niches and see things in a whole new way. 

Enter Annie. She’s an orphan, a marginalized young girl, and yet she has a vision for how life might be better tomorrow, and her spirit is indomitable! She’s not afraid to create community wherever she goes, she sings and dances her cares and hopes, she builds bridges between the powerful and the oppressed. Perhaps she has a gift for us in these crazy times! 

So why Annie? This summer I had a very special time dancing, playing and creating with my grandnieces and grandnephew in a two-week visit to Michigan. And the story that we played with was Annie. (You may remember I enacted Wizard of Oz with them a few years back.) It so happens that there was a remake of the musical in 2014 with various of the main characters being played by People of Color, and so was perfect for our little family unit, with a new relevance for our world today. 

So, if you scroll down to the bottom of this blog, you get to see our video rendition of Annie (in which I play Ms. Hannigan, of course!) 

Meanwhile, what are our “Annie” practices? We need our heart-opening prayer, we need deep breaths, we need our play, we need our family and friends, we need our walks outdoors, our time for laughing and our time for crying. We need our creative outlets and we need our dance! We need to be working on our uncomfortable edges to grow more courageous, and we need to soften and be compassionate with ourselves in these times of upheaval. 

Here is our family’s playful version of Annie created with my beloved grandnieces/ nephew (and a few other willing family members.) I even got to throw in a liturgical dance as Ms. Hannigan … (when she has her change of heart, of course!) Let’s all pray that our “tomorrow” of no COVID will come soon. Meanwhile, let’s live our days with love, laughter and deep compassion for one another. (P.S. … if you only have a short time, the first 3 minutes are totally worth the click!) 

The last line of the story is – “I don’t need anything but you!”

xo, Betsey

Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing in the Sacred Heart of Summer


Sometimes the world seems a bit too challenging to bear. The summer sun in Seattle shines brightly, and yet the underbelly of our society’s weaknesses are exposed with new awareness of racism, sexism, and global pandemic. Each day my heart is longing for simpler days of family, faith and community, while I am asked to stand in new places of truth-telling, courage, and discomfort with a heart of peace and justice. 

Before these challenging days were upon us, I felt called to organize a reunion. Fifty years ago, I was in the 7th grade at Sacred Heart Academy in Cincinnati, and I learned my beloved school was about to close its doors. I took my first dance class at Sacred Heart! I wrote my first poem at Sacred Heart! I made my First Communion at Sacred Heart! I learned about the evils of slavery and the heart of Christ. Mary watched over us and I felt her feminine wisdom guiding me. At my young age, I was devastated that our little community would close its doors.

Here’s a poem I wrote in 1970 –

The Great Hall stands empty now.
Long past are its years of fame.
Seldom are there visitors here,
and those who come cherish its name.
“What Great Hall do you speak of?” you say.
“What building could you possibly mean?”
‘Tis the silent old Sacred Heart,
the lovely old Sacred Heart,
which now stands alone on the hill.

Fast forward 50 years , and it turns out that my cousin has recently purchased a condo in the “lovely old Sacred Heart” building … and not only that, this condo is in the Chapel of the old building! So that was the clincher: I organized a reunion of our 7th grade class … most of whom I hadn’t seen in literally 50 years, and we were to regather in our beloved place of origin! Well, COVID had other ideas, so we ended up with a ZOOM reunion , which had its own beauty! 

All of this is to say that in these challenging times, I revisited the place of my beautiful budding child self, and embraced her with joy. I want to share the slide show I created for this grand occasion. May it stir in you the memory of the heart of love that created you and us all. May the Sacred Heart of love continue to plant in us the courage to live with generosity, honesty, faith, creativity and community. 

I am fortunate to live with my husband, Charlie Bommarito, a passionate musician who creates music in our house daily. Since we are not able to have large gatherings at the moment, I’m sharing here a summer music creation by his/our band Percolations (also featuring our son, Chaz.) For this video, I am the videographer and editor … (and you can see my surprise appearances at 9:14 and 10:40.) Kick off your shoes and join me in the dance of summer!

Our son, Chaz is contemplating some changes of direction – so it’s a special treat to have this co-creation before larger shifts happen in the fabric of our lives. May the music of summer soothe your soul for the joy and challenges of living! 

Stay healthy. Sending prayers, music, and dances from our heart to yours!


Betsey Beckman, MM

Dancing Into the Divine


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 Beckman, MM

Dancing with Mary Magdalene


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 Beckman, MM

Dancing From Home to the World


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!



Betsey Beckman, MM