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The Jeweled Dance Floor

April 12, 2010

If God invited you to a party and said,

“Everyone in the ballroom tonight will be my special Guest,”

How would you then treat them when you arrived?

Indeed, indeed!

And Hafiz knows there is no one in this world

who is not upon His Jeweled Dance Floor.

~Hafiz, 14th century Sufi mystic, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

A jeweled dance floor… that’s exactly what it felt like as I witnessed the beauty unfolding before me at the Sweat Your Prayers sessions over Easter weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visiting family, I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to dance and celebrate the concept of resurrection. In a purely metaphysical sense…I love the idea of rebirth. It was also great to just be a participant and totally let go without a single thought regarding facilitation… almost… did make a few mental notes about wonderful music I heard. A highly recommended practice for any teacher or facilitator of any subject, being a student can refresh your passion and perspective; it always does my own.

Saturday morning in San Rafael, California. About sixty people arrive, start to warm up and gently dance. An exotic, dark woman with a shaved head, dressed in flaming orange walks over to the altar area and reverently places two photographs of people on the table. She squats with her face in her hands and contemplates the images. As the dance rhythms start to pick up, I notice that this woman is beginning to move wildly before the altar. She throws punches and kicks into the air. At times, she doubles over, clutching her stomach. When I see her face, stained with angry tears, I understand that she must be grieving a recent loss. I am awe struck with her raw beauty.

Thankfully, no one is rescuing her or interfering. She is processing and we simply dance with her in our hearts. One day it may be us in her place. That’s how I’d want it to be for me…a safe space to let go, move the energy and feel held by a loving community without anyone trying to make me feel better or calm me down. Her sad rage is a total gift to behold and be around. The room is electrified by her passionate love and we are invited to become more vulnerable and real in our dances. Some of us women dance with her…she is crouching like a ferocious lioness, moving like a tribal African warrior…. we are also crouching, moving in circles as if we are around a bonfire where this grief is being exorcised. As her anger subsides, a woman enfolds her from behind and she weeps in her tender embrace. It feels perfect.

I turn to the altar space and see a familiar mop of wild, red pixie hair. She is placing a plastic dinosaur on the table. I go over and poke her. Here is a delightful, mad woman that I danced with in a ten day workshop two years ago and haven’t seen or heard from since. She jumps, turning in shock only to see my face and break out in a huge grin. Laughing together, we start to jiggle and pop to the staccato beat. We lock into a madcap dance that is so magically spontaneous, playful and totally in tune with our every move. It’s intoxicating… a train ride with no brakes and it just continues to spiral into greater delirium. We’re giggling because it’s so crazy good. God, I love it when this dance magic suddenly showers you with it’s grace. You can’t anticipate it as you can’t force it. Truly, it is grace descending…. or ascending…whamo! You are transported to a realm that unfolds every second with synchronicity, boundless creativity, perfectly in tune, moving faster than you can think, in the Zone.

Then the song ends…we smile our gratitude and head off in opposite directions. No words are exchanged between us ever; I slip her my email before I leave. Pure nectar… our spirits deeply entwined in this intimate exchange… God knows what her name is… and so not important. We have met in essence. People really need to do this more often for humanity’s sake. And play together more. The child within was so tickled to play with someone. It felt like we were imagining and spinning out some story like we all have done for hours and hours as kids. Sheer joy!

Next day, Easter Sunday, I am bowled over by a man dancing full tilt with a prosthetic leg. He’s apparently a regular. That’s when the poem by Hafiz bubbles to my consciousness… the “jeweled dance floor” and everyone being God’s guest. What rich exchanges and amazing souls I have had the honor to bear witness to on this bejeweled dance floor. I am flooded with gratitude for this place where all hearts beat as one dance and essence meets essence.

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