every now and then i make it to presence studio in bellingham where on sunday mornings this event called "sweat your prayers" happens. it's a small miracle that happens every week in studios around the world. (find one near you.)
on a recent sunday i was dropped off early- the class starts at about 10:15 and when i climbed the stairs the candles were just being lit. they creaked under me- masks on the walls whispering as i slipped by. behind me cornwall avenue was swirling with large maple leaves burnt by winter's coming breath. the white mini-van took away my family and i started to loom larger.
confession: i have to shrink myself to fit my life sometimes. do you do this?
bite your tongue.
hold your breath.
clench your teeth.
curl your toes.
suck in your gut.
hunch your shoulders.
soften your glare.
quiet your laugh.
the small ways we hold back because...well, we all have our reasons, i'm sure. maybe we can't even actually speak the reasons. this shrinking is important stuff. so important we even do it in our sleep- curled on our side, knees to chest, hands to chin. we are so small as we dream. or should i say "I?" perhaps you do none of this.
i do this. so when my family pulled away i grew a bit bigger. they don't shrink me- i do it- i know that. and when they left for their afternoon playing baseball in the park i breathed out and in. there was no whining or hitting or crying or clutching. no snacks. no empty water jugs. no crusty noses. no requests. no complaints.
it was just me- however me needed or wanted to be. then it was just me and this glowing wooden dance floor. i sat facing west, looking at six tall windows facing the alley. this room is old. this building of brick and beams from trees of the forest hold so many stories, so many moments of dance. the morning sun slanting in through the sheer curtains and laid warm blankets on the wood floor. i felt a cat's urge to curl up there. i looked at the deep red walls- the richness of them could almost be tasted. the ceiling was suspended somewhere up there far above me with dusty boot prints from carpenters.
i imagined being out there in all that alluring space. i could run from corner to corner without worry of flopping into someone. i could crawl in tight circles without tripping anyone. i could jump like a crackerjack or roll like a ball or prowl like a hungry dog or bounce like a rubberband off of a chalkboard right as the bell rang for recess. the floor was completely open and huge and golden waiting there for me without any expectation.
i was terrified.
there was this feeling like- wow, here IT is. now what are you going to do with it? it was like the universe was wrapped up as a gift for me to open and i was stunned, scared by the possibilities. i saw all this potential bliss fanned out at my toes and still there was a hesitation. a fear of suddenly having the freedom to do whatever i wanted- and then realizing that i was not entirely sure what i wanted.
it's the blank canvas.
the new journal.
a box of crayons
that moment when all is new and we are desperate to create something that speaks from the core of us to the core of everyone else. and that's big.
about as big as that dance floor.
and the moment is fleeting. in the next beat the floor was being smudged by amanda. she walked the perimeter of the floor with a large shell that spun out streams of sage smoke. she walked slowly along the east walk. the smoke pulsed and curled after her then drifted until there was a hazy wall all around me. her features burnt out by the morning sun behind her- she began everywoman. everywoman who has ever pushed through dark, everywoman who created light, everywoman who danced, everywoman who didn't. she was all parts of me- her silhouette floating by- a smiling spirit.
it was the invitation.