The heavy rain today seems to rise up from the earth to meet the drops falling from the sky. Quietly, I observe that I feel the tears of nature opening up opportunities in my own body, nourishing my strength while giving me the freedom to embrace the relief and fear of surrendering to Life.
My dance season began gently on Sunday as a natural, outdoor mass for Spring. With my two sons, I arrived to the dance grounds, welcomed by the land and the people on it with open hearts. With a toddler and a young boy, I knew I would not be going into the sweat lodge for purification with the others, but our prayers and joy would go into the sacred fire after it was complete in the little bundles of fabric and tobacco we’d made: prayer ties.
We greeted everyone and settled in, then the boys were hungry. We sat under a tree enjoying our food, the older boy using his toy shield as a plate, the younger one running off to explore a little and sneak food from his brother between bites and drinks. As we finished our meal, we heard the others coming down the hill to the dance field practicing the dance. It’s always best to practice before the sweat lodge takes away the rational memory. We joined them.
My older boy was uncharacteristically silent and the younger clung to me in a way he normally only does with his father, melting into my chest as if trying to return to my flesh. I danced this land pregnant, and carrying him when he was an infant, so maybe he was remembering that. This dance is both gentle and wild with joy. The jets of rising sound and the abandon of our fellow dancers surprised the boys out of their habits and into a kind of surrender of their own.
For me, having the boys present grounded me in a way I am not when on my own. I carried them with me and made it safe for them to be free in the experience while stabilizing myself. It was a perfect beginning for the season, distracting as it was to my mind. The steps I will follow in the rest of the summer are stable and thoughtful, rooted in family, protection, and deep, abiding love.
We played to pray, opening our hearts to the land and each other in the warm soft light, while our friends and teachers opened themselves to purity in the warm soft darkness. We climbed and rolled down the hills, played with last autumn’s leaves, tackled and comforted each other, defended the forces of good, breathed with the creatures around us and laughed with abandon. When my older boy found the dried form of a butterfly in the grass, it seemed like a sign that the change around and in us came from nature. We were ready to honor her when the sweat lodge ended, by sending her into the fire with our prayer ties and some discarded cords from last year’s dance arbor. The young one went with me, uncomfortable for the first time in the intense heat around the waning lodge fire. The older one, lay down on the grass with our tired companions out new from the dark womb of the Mother.
After a little rest, organization and a change of clothes, we were all ready for the ceremony. The boys went with me into the Sand Hill Crane dance, the older one leading us up the hill, the younger on my back, wearing white bands across our foreheads and shaking rattles to call the spirits. The younger one, who always makes music or noise with anything he can find, held the rattle but did not shake it once the dance began. He melted again into my back and stayed quiet and watchful until he was freed from the pack at the end. The older one became a warrior, opening to Spring, to protecting the land with his free whoops and daring the world with his fierce eyes. It was beautiful to partner with them on the adventure. With the boy on my back, grounding me more completely than before, I surrendered in a more gentle way than my son, more like the earth I represent than the sky and lightning he does.
So, this year, the season of prayer in the dance opens with family and tradition stabilizing the rest of my prayers. My feet and senses will not forget the love and joy of sharing the dance with my boys. My heart will open in a more connected way than before, bringing with me the dance I do every day to honor the beautiful spirits that graced my life by coming into it through this body. The gratitude opens more easily than ever in all my cells and cries out in wonder and relief. The rain today reflects it all around me.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.