I'm working weekly on Wednesday nights at the beautiful, old, old Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. These evenings I've found refuge and, despite whipping winds and cold rains, warmth in its various chapels. And there are regulars - folks who come and sit to meditate, to take in the ambient reverence of the space. One person comes each week, reads a book, chats with me about what he's been up to. The first week he came to the workshop, which provides the source material for the resonant recordings I'm doing in the various chapels. That first week, something difficult was happening with him and he did, he cried, he walked, he breathed, he sang and vocalised. In that workshop, we explored voice, the body, breath, and their relationship to our true selves. I'm proud that this practice of meditation makes up the bed of the piece I'm writing for my dancer-collaborator Maria Nilsson Waller's scores.
Desert - Flowering - Wind.
We're creating a moving score, an improvised liturgy with contemplative sound design for the cathedral.
It feels so ... disconnected from the world, even during prayers when we mention shootings in London. A that moment only during the evening did the cathedral feel cold, hard, out of touch. I miss being close to my family, to the unexpected rootedness and conviction of knowing that home is Home. But when each person comes in out of the cold, and we talk about our difficulties, the complexities of just being now, being here, maybe it's essential work - connecting with our Selfs. We have a couple more weeks of work before we present improvised dance/sound liturgy on April 11th at 7pm. But this piece is about process, and that's what we're celebrating during Lent: the process of getting there - to redemption. Wherever you are this evening (I'm in cold, rainy Dublin!), choose the road that's harder, the path that takes you somewhere new, even through sweat and confusion.
Spirit is not something attained by going to a church service or to the right workshop, or by posting the most liked rant.
Not for me, anyhow.
Rather, it's found as I lie in bed at night fearlessly asking myself difficult questions. Not the questions about the future, or the questions about the past, but the questions about the present. These are the hardest ones to answer with presence and honesty.
It is knowing that I still have a long way to go before I eliminate war from my own body, let alone the wider world. (But not shrinking back from the unrest in my body.)
It is acknowledging that in every new encounter, I must listen more closely to the Self and to the understood Self of the other.
How far down does my Self look? Can I cope with resting with the unknown in others so that I can call out into my own Self? Can I silence the shallow ego long enough to see, to know, to graciously accept that which I see in the other - any other - standing before me?
The closer I get to myself, the less acutely lonely I become. Still, I am Body. I find my Self on the dance floor. My truth arises from ego-less bodies moving, surrendering to rhythm (preferably complex with stellar hip-hop engrossed beats). It is here - dancing - that I embody what I find as I lie in bed: celebration, life energy, moving past the past.
Here: I can't see into the future, but I can see into my Self. That is the place from which I move.
I'm spending 6 weeks working at Christchurch Cathedral in honour of giving voice to questions over Lent. This is not a coincidence. Throughout my time in my original home in Virginia, I found myself face to face with the most difficult parts of my psyche. The questions were coming too quickly and, as I have made a pact with myself to pay attention to the difficult moments in my life, I have spoken with things that I have until now not understood or wanted to address about myself.
Here are the words we use as a starting point for our questions at the Giving Voice workshop coming up on Saturday:
What questions do you need to ask?
This moment will be a time of call and response; part of the call will be external, though part will also come from within you. An internal call is an act of faith - creating space and resonance in your body to allow the question somewhere to grow.
What are the questions you cannot ask? Are there questions you can verbalise, or things that can only be sent out by your body to the Universe or to the deepest self and universe inside of you?
What are the questions you can ask? Give space to those.
Let's search for the elusive questions, knowing that the season of Lent gives us a time to reflect with full knowledge that hope is in the pipeline. Until then, we must come to rest with the difficult things that must be asked.