Dance of Healing

When the Black Lives Matter protests peaked following the murder of George Floyd, I was riven with the need to be present at the observances in Minneapolis. In the lack of moderating ministry, pain mutates into violence. The calculus of force that animates fascism finds justification in that outcome.

When I was working in tech, I had the resources and respect to just get up and go. I have documented those experiences. The methods that I use allow me to organize energies on the global stage. That is my unique responsibility. In sharing those methods, however, I hope that others may engage to heal the communities they have adopted.

It begins with a humble receptivity to sorrow. We are not always the chosen representative for Divine Love. I myself am called only when Love has become frustrated by resistance that allows predators to threaten those most precious. We begin when the sorrow becomes known, dropping into the heart and asking “What is needed here?” That question may percolate for days or weeks. I find myself navigating lucid dreams in which my role is negotiated in advance.

In most cases, those dreams pass. When they persist, I know that I must go. In this case, a certain logic held – partner dance is one of the few joys left to me.

Thus, I found myself in Monterey Park before sunrise on Sunday morning. It was not difficult to find the Star Ballroom, but the scene was complicated by the presence of a local TV van. The roar of the generator was punctuated throughout by loud discussion of real estate deals.

Music plugs into the right side of the brain that witnesses unifying harmony. The first selection was Lauren Daigle’s “Once and for All,” a profound expression of the paradoxes of service to love.

Oh, help me to lay it down
Oh, Lord, I lay it down

Oh, let this be where I die
My Lord, with Thee crucified
Be lifted high as my kingdoms fall
Once and for all, once and for all

This tapped the pain directly. I skirted the memorial and found myself at the back door, reaching back to the aftermath of the attack. I froze and struggled with the trauma as tears rolled down my checks. A few minutes later, I made my first circuit of the building, walking past the local market and the Bank of America, finally breaching the noise of the TV van to return to the memorial.

On my second circuit, I began searching for a link to healing. Snatam Kaur’s “Long Time Sun” came first and touched that chord. Returning to praise music was less successful. It was too much about me and not enough about them.

Three more circuits followed, though my attention was focused on the messages chalked on the asphalt. Finally, l was brought to stillness before the memorial, standing for minutes before each portrait. I tapped into their love of dance, allowing it to resonate with my own. And then the link found me, in “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”:

Over the mountains and the sea
Your river runs with the love for me
And I will open up my heart
And let the healer set me free.
I’m happy to be in the truth
And I will daily lift my hands
For I will always sing of when Your love came down.

The waking community, dimly aware of the energy that I was projecting, came fully present to me then. Still, resistance to my presence, rooted in anger that such things happen at all, persisted, until we came to:

Oh, I feel like dancin’
It’s foolishness I know
But when the world has seen the light
They will dance with joy
Like we’re dancing now

Raising my hands to the sky, I tendered the watchful presence of angels as guides to their recovery.

I looped on the track for another two circuits, feeling the pain soften. On the last, the sun began to shine through the clouds. The representatives had arrived to record their spot, and I skirted the van to avoid the camera angle, standing at a distance, simply bearing witness.

I stopped dancing when the pandemic took the country in its grip. Ecstatic Dance LA began offering outdoor events in Venice, but the distance was prohibitive. Starting from Monterey Park, however, it was a waypoint on the drive back to Westlake Village.

I was discouraged by rain as I skirted downtown, but the clouds thinned and upon arriving at the site of the celebration, only the bluster of the wind remained. Technically, it was a different experience: dancing on the downward slope of a beach, heels sinking four inches into the sand, limited the pace – though perhaps to the benefit of my aging joints. I danced by myself for thirty minutes until a woman caught my glance meaningfully over her shoulder. Then the flow began, the circling of limbs as energy built. Finally, the first contact, evolving towards leaning and then lifting.

Tiring, I broke off, and let the wind blow through me before taunting the surf. The moon was not in the sky, but I felt her presence there with me.

Yesterday was dominated by the drum-beat of passion, borne stoically, only moderating when I enunciated:

You need to integrate the gifts that I gave to you.

It will happen again, but we are learning.

Dawn of the Soul

Midi Berry’s newly published Nights of the Road examines the mystical power of feminine devotion. The nominal protagonist of the tale is Sarah, a British refugee from bad relationship mojo, taking up a life as a psychotherapist in Los Angeles. The power driving her spiritual awakening, however, arises from the 17th century, where her ancestor Frances Coke earns the regard of those surrounding the Stewart court as its excesses succumb to Parliamentary discipline.

When I was a child, my father declaimed modern music by observing that it was the discipline of classical forms that allowed composers to create pieces that challenged listeners without alienating them. This seems a suitable metaphor for the structure of Midi’s work.

In both time streams, Berry injects the theme of a woman committed to a natural love with a devoted partner, but challenged in her course by the passionate attentions of an unstable and possessive creative genius. In the Stewart Court, Frances is frustrated in her love by an arranged marriage, albeit to a man who – as long as the forms of the relationship are honored – kindly accepts her devotion to another. In modern Los Angeles, Sarah escapes a political marriage through emigration, and falls captive to the reborn creative genius whose attentions were frustrated by social strictures in the Stewart Court.

The novel evolves through a series of tetes-a-tetes between the romantic interests. Sarah employs the language of modern psychology as a shield against strong emotions, eventually drawing her two competitors – both previously members of a band called Nights of the Road (whence the title, in part) – into collaborative reconciliation. As for Frances, I found myself thinking that her attitudes were entirely too modern, but then realized that so were the attitudes of Beethoven and Brahms. Frances makes a decision early on in the book to believe in herself, and thus speaks her mind honestly throughout, and so perhaps reveals wisdom of the feminine heart that has been long suppressed.

I found myself at times wishing that Berry would bring us into some of the historical experiences discussed by Frances and her lover Robert. However, the emphasis of the book is on transformation of relationships, and there is a lot of valuable relationship modeling in the story line.

The most significant flaw in the story – and this is nit-picking – may be the lack of forecasting of Frances’s mystical ascension as her death nears. For those familiar with such events, this is foreshadowed by the affirmation by a noble protector that Frances’s beauty, compassion and devotion have brought her unsuspected admiration from the royal entourage. Unfortunately, for some the connection may be lost, and so her wandering down the psychic road as she nears death (whence again the title) may seem a little jarring, if not deus ex machina.

But the book’s final chapter is golden. Antony, the creative genius of Nights of the Road, manipulates masterfully Sarah’s emotions, and precious are the lyrics sung as reflections upon her impact on the men that love her.

Berry’s heart-felt tribute to reconciliation and redemption casts light on the challenges of being a muse, and presents wisdom that readers will usefully apply when seeking to understand and deepen their relationships. As the Brits would say: “Give it a go!”