While Amtrak trains have air conditioning, the stations don’t always. That may just be my stops: I’m riding along the coast from Oxnard to Santa Barbara. It was getting warm this morning when I left, so I just puttered along on my bike, hoping to keep from arriving at the station as a walking swamp. I did all right, but still found myself hiding out under the Highway 1 fly-over. All that concrete made the air cooler than in the station.
One of the best parts of taking the train out to Santa Barbara is having the chance to put on my noise-cancelling earbuds and really let the praise music I’m listening to work its way through me. Listening at work during the week, I’m just cancelling mental noise – the music doesn’t really sink in and produce meaning.
I found myself looping over “Draw Me Close to You” by the Katinas. I kept on tearing up on this passage:
You’re all I want.
You’re all I ever needed.
You’re all I want.
Help me know you are near.
I finally realized that it would be natural for Christ to feel the same way about the flock that seeks for him. I was picking up that reflection.
Santa Barbara was pretty hot – 87 F when I got off the train at 10:20. I went past puttering to dawdling. Even so, I got to the Dance Tribe early, and enjoyed those first ten minutes with the dance floor nearly empty – those that entered with me still needed to warm up their muscles. The early numbers are also meditative, allowing me the freedom to vary pace and attitude as spirit moves me. When the second piece finished, one of the organizers caught my eye and shared “Wow. Great job.”
And then the frenzy. We had fun – I’ve been in attendance long enough that the improv group recognizes me as a trustworthy partner. I got caught up in a couple of multi-person scrums, although in one case I ended up crying out “Squish!” from the bottom of a pile of bodies.
The tempo began to wind down in the last half hour, and I made a really joyful discovery. I’ve been struggling with left-right imbalance in yoga for the last five years, and on Thursday I finally got into full locust posture with a sense that I was pulling into the center of my body, rather than listing to the right. I was working that into my dance when suddenly I realized “My wings are back.”
For the last couple of months I’ve been a little sad that, as the music winds down, I haven’t been able to find a lady to dance the last number. This time I decided that I was just going to claim someone. So I walked through the middle of the floor until I caught her eye, and started leading her through some travelling ballroom dance turns. When we finally locked together, I took her up into some rotating shoulder lifts.
Then I began to listen to the music: it was a plea for forgiveness from Great Spirit. I tried to fight it off, but she felt what was going on and just stood still, encouraging me. I ended up making two windmill sweeps through the air with my right arm, just pulling in all of the sorrow emanating from the natural world while choking out “Oh, God! Oh, God!”
When I opened my eyes, I found that she hadn’t run away – in fact, she had stepped closer. We ended up winding ourselves together and rolling onto the floor, she eventually inside my body as I went up into a shoulder stand. She surprised me by continuing to curl through into a reverse somersault.
God, I’d forgotten what that was like: to be affirmed by a woman’s touch as I do the work that seems to be mine.
So I’m exhausted tonight, but it’s a good exhaustion.