love letters to a raven…11-2-22

Love Letters to a Raven, an online event, began October 22 on the 10 year anniversary of Gabrielle Roth’s death.  It was a global invitation to post pictures and reflections, installations and musings, a 10 day wave with two days dedicated to each rhythm.

As folks chimed in from all around the world, perception quickly grew of how impactful this overall practice is.  But what I really appreciated was how much potent and particular medicine each individual rhythm holds.  An invitation to write every other day?  From Day 1, I just dove in, of course:

I had already written earlier that week about Gabrielle so I simply posted the link in Love Letters in thanks for these two woke feet.  How every practitioner out there has a story to tell about when and how the 5Rhythms earthquake shifted their bedrock.  How  Gabrielle left a legacy that woke my feet up and then my whole body followed suit.  And my hope that she knows every day I give thanks for these two woke feet, wordlessly moving me across this ever-shifting ground.  Woke feet: so the essence of an instinct-laden flow.

Right away I knew in my bones this was my home rhythm. How embarrassing! In my naivety I secretly wished I could be all ravishing flowing or dramatically chaotic or even serenely still. Staccato seemed so lock step ordinary boring. Hah! So little did I know of the massive steely layers surrounding my soft beating tender heart. Clueless about the journey I was embarking on that would melt my steel cage father wound. How I would finally dance my way into utter forgiveness. The incredible impact of softening around my edges…without losing one bit of my fiery clarity. Staccato…I worship you, my home rhythm, for so many years I buckled under your mastery. And now, in a strange twist of fate, you are in abject service to me every day….

This morning as I staccato-collage I am remembering Embodied Heart in Tiburon 2005? 2006? Gabrielle asked us to bring a picture of our father and by day’s end there was an entire wall filled with the photos of 80 fathers. I spent countless hours at this wall. I looked at each man and saw his utter capacity for heartless cruelty. By week’s end I was able to see the soft tenderness emanating from each photo. What an incredible gift that immersion was.

Hmmm…staccato notions reverberating! Before day’s end just one more thing about this rhythm so close to my heart. First couple years of practice: teachers who utilized this rhythm to facilitate an exploration of boundaries. It felt like there was an assumption that we all needed to “work” on building/improving/strengthening our personal boundaries. Clearly some of my partners were challenged to create clear strong easy to read lines. I finally got that my work was something different. My lines were over the top powerful, boundaries up the wazoo. Offering up a softer version of clarity was my investigation. This has been an ongoing process. Now, when I teach in this arena, I hold it as an exploration of a continuum. The highly defended at one end, the sweet pushovers at the other. And then everywhere in between. And so often it is situational. I love to play in the rhythm of staccato exploring that entire juicy continuum.

And if staccato was my home rhythm, chaos was a foreign land.  One by one, over the years, there was a moment when each rhythm anchored into my body.  It was palpable.  But there was something about chaos that just wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t land.  It took a world wide pandemic.  There was loss that dropped me into heart-wracking grief in a way I had just never had time to allow in the past.  The sleepless pain of it, the overwhelming empathic distress stripped me naked.  It went on for weeks.  In the midst of it, in my dance, I noticed the green EXIT sign over our auditorium door.  I realized if I could read it, my head was not released.  In an instant, my head let go in a way I had never experienced, sending a reverberating wave to tail bone and shooting out fingers and toes.  It was an extended journey from control and confusion to all out surrender.  And since then, the quality of surrender is weaving its way gently through all the rhythms/all my life.  Gabrielle used to say that sometimes you go for it and sometimes you have to wait for it.  Chaos….thank god, you have been well worth the wait.

Shapeshifter extraordinare, so many ways to move through the portal of flow, staccato, chaos. I call lyrical “The Big Whatever”. And, yes to the universal experience of lightness and joy and air, which became so real in Year One when happenstance dance-lifted me in front of a huge fan. Yes. But the cycles, the life cycles brought me home to the lyrical medicine deeps. I began this practice with my life in chaotic glorious confusion. As I stayed with, kept moving from trizophrenia toward integrity, as my body began to sister with my heart, my mind began to shhhh….the reason I was born here on Planet Earth emerged from shadow. Everything from inside out, the masculine feminine merge to creation, effortlessly shape-shifted into a lyrical destiny that had always been patiently awaiting. For me, the rhythm of lyrical is about alignment. The cohesion necessary to allow our soul to bear true fruit. And now, in gratitude, in the abundance of fall’s harvest, all these years later, I slip slide toward stillness.

I once asked Gabrielle, “So at the end of a wave, at the end of a class, at the end of a workshop…what is it, what sensibility, are you aiming for, wanting to create?” With not a moment of hesitation, she replied. “Emptiness and unity.” I call that up on the regular. I’m only just beginning to understand that it might be the same answer for the end of a life.

So much more I could have expressed.  The gestalt is reverberating inside me.  Love Letters to a Raven was an ephemeral cyber-space moment, no longer visible, just like the dance.  But, if this is your practice, this elicits such a beautiful DIY possibility.  A couple days to feel into each rhythm.  Meditation, writing, artwork.  Or simply noticing each particular energetic vibration—flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical, stillness— as it arises in your day, in your body, in your movement, in your heart, in your awareness.  Attune to your soul—what does it need right now?  Empty out, be still, let spirit inform you.

And if you want to investigate the territory as it was meant to be explored, come dance Wednesday Waves at Clara tonight November 2 6:30 and Sunday Sweat Your Prayers November 6 10:00, actually back in the garden just for this week and next.  There is nothing like it.

Love, Bella