Monday, June 22, 2015

Healing at the River

Last night to commemorate the summer solstice, I thought it would be nice to watch the sunset by the river. Normally when I go to the river (my favorite spot in the city), I feel pulled in an almost magnetic way to the walking bridge. I love that every time I go there, I see a mix of people unlike other places I go in the city.  Different races, different languages, different abilities, ages, and social class. And everyone seems to be enjoying their time on the bridge. Often there are vendors, buskers, bikers, runners, walkers, amblers, and sight-seers. Anyone who knows me knows I love the Big Four Bridge.

Last night I parked and, journal in hand, walked past the bridge without feeling the usual pull, instead moving towards what I thought might be a quiet place near the water to write. I passed the picnickers, the kids and grown-ups on the swings, and as I kept walking, I heard the familiar sound of salsa music.

There were a few years in my life (now long ago) when dancing to this music was part of my weekend routine - Friday nights at Utopia, Saturday nights at Cafe Kilimanjaro. Having learned to dance a little during my time in Central America, it was thanks to the patience of friends I made in Louisville from Ecuador, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, and other places, that I really learned to move. How I loved it. Dancing liberated me from my serious nature, from any need for control as I followed the partners who knew how to lead. Dancing, I allowed myself to be fully in my body in a way that didn't otherwise often happen.

The music was my magnet last evening. My pace quickened with the anticipation of what I might find when I encountered its source. I was not disappointed.

This last week has been such a heavy one.  A Sudanese refugee killed by a police officer here in Louisville and an appalling response to his death by an FOP leader. The massacre of nine in Charleston. An arson attack on the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, a place I've visited numerous times, in the Galilee in Israel. And these were only the new devastations to top all of the ongoing ones. Over and over again my heart broke open.

And then I saw them - couples dancing a rueda de casino with utter abandon, living into - embodying - the deep knowledge of the goodness of the world. I include this video (not from yesterday), so that you might know a bit of this joy, too.

Because in the midst of hate and sorrow and anger and pain, there is reason to dance. We are alive. And while life doesn't always win, Life finds a way to triumph.

There is reason to laugh, because Joy and Delight can be found at every turn, if we seek it.

There is reason to hope, because in the midst of unimaginable horror, there are magnanimous offerings of Forgiveness that teach us how to live into our own divine nature. Looking into the eyes of the man who killed their loved ones, "I forgive you," said the relatives of the nine killed at Emmanuel AME.

There is reason to reach out, because Love is stronger than hate, even, or maybe especially, when it breaks us open. When we take the chance to extend ourselves beyond our hurt, or invite others into our new openness, Love weaves us back together, individually and collectively.

I found a place to sit and felt the spirit in my still body soar. I was entranced in hearing the rhythms and watching the bodies fluidly respond to it.

I chose not to dance last night. But I still felt Life, Joy, and Delight pulsing through my body. I felt the release that comes from letting go of what hurts as my heart swelled with Love for people I didn't even know.

I went to the river to renew my soul. I thought I'd find in a sunset (which I never saw). Instead I found it in a  group of strangers, dancing.

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