November 27, 2018
I have a poem I want to share with you:
Capax Universi capable of the universe are your arms
whenever they move with love.
And I know it is true that your feet are never
more alive than when they are in
defense of a good
I want to fund your efforts: Stay near beauty, for she will always strengthen you.
She will bring your mouth close to Hers and
breathe – inspire you the way light does the fields.
The earth inhales God, why
should we not do
This sacred flame we tend inside needs
the chants of every tongue,
the communion with
As capable as God
(St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. by Daniel Ladinsky)
According to translator and author Daniel Ladinsky in Love Poems from God, the great mystic Saint Thomas Aquinas was often absorbed in states of enchantment and possessed a deep reverence for every moment, creature, and form in existence. He experienced ALL of creation to be revelations of God’s infinite, eternal, expanding Being. From this state of knowing any division between sacred and profane, or categorizations among belief systems or traditions, was meaningless.
Imagine what the world would be like if we, as a culture, cultivated that sense of wonder and reverence in all we do and encounter? What a different world this would be if we approached each day with the tender respect and curiosity as an artist approaching her craft?
How can we reinvigorate ourselves in times of hardship, and reach for the joy in every moment? Perhaps we make a practice of turning every word into a song, and every step into a dance. Perhaps we release our mental contortions and turn them into heart-filled poems, and our over-doing into artful moving?
Last month I had an experience in the magical music-filled city of New Orleans that confirmed for me what the child in each of us has long known to be true: God or the Universe (or insert your preferred term here) cares little what you sing so long as you are singing. Ask yourself: Can you sing without your heart filling with love? And what is love but the feeling of connection with all that is beautiful? Whether expressed through the vibrations and rhythms of your voice, instrument, or body-instrument, sacred emotion is the breath that lifts your prayers and draws your lips towards that which you yearn for.
And what happens when movement, music, and deep emotion are mixed together? According to ecstatic researcher Bradford Keeney, a recipe for healing and ecstasy! As he observed, in many ecstatic traditions it is song that is most imbued with spirit, and community coming together to share in song serves to magnify the ecstatically joyful healing effect for all.
In our spiritually cold modern world we often need to be reminded that movement, music, and heart-connected community are vital for our psychological well-being and spiritual warmth. It matters not whether you think you can dance. What is more important in this context is following your body’s natural impulse to respond to the healing vibrations of sound and give your body permission to be playful and free.