I dance as spiritual practice, as a form of meditation. It is the way that I most sincerely pray. I give all my attention, all my energy, all my focus to this moment, this breath, this blood, this bone, this tiny movement or this grand one. I keep coming back, feeling without analyzing, following without wondering why. It just is.
I think this is at the root of all spiritual practice– how to be in this, now. How to embody the present moment. How to let the rest fall away so that all you’re left with is what is, simply.
When I consider what has caused the most suffering in my life it is not being in this. It is somehow resisting what is. Often that’s through thinking– how does this compare to what used to be? What is coming? Am I worried about that? Have I checked all the things off my list? What else is there to do? Blah, blah, blah. The litany of the chatter of my own mind is endless. So endless that I often barely notice it. It’s just there, the background clamor of my day to day life.
Sometimes it shows up in my body. Like lately– the constant nausea, the pit of anxiety in my stomach. No, I don’t think I’m pregnant. I think I’m falling asleep, a little. I’ve been going through the motions for three years now– three years living in St. Louis, three years living with my partner John, three years in the same damn apartment. I’m not used to this! This move came at the tail end of three years in Berkeley, CA– three years in paradise, the land of my soul. We moved– for many reasons that I could explain but for now let’s just say for the true reasons. It still feels true, and right. Weird, but right. Before California I lived in Texas, in four different places with different sets of roommates and finally, just myself. Now that I think about it, this is the longest I have lived in one place, working one job… since I was 18. I’m 35. John and I see ourselves staying here, being here, carving a life here, permanently, barring some huge soul motion or calling to leave.
We both feel calls to rootedness– growing love deep, if you will. And St. Louis is the place. Which means… here I am. For a while. Yikes. The distractions have diminished. I’m not preparing to be moving on to the next thing. I no longer ponder my life’s career– ministry, even if the forms of this ministry are for always changing. I am in it. Now what? I hear the still, small voice within asking. Now what?
Now… This. Yes, and. For once in my entire life I get to just let life deepen. Woah. It’s weird how weird that is. It’s weird to just…be. I notice the addictions arise– I drink more beer, I watch too much TV, John and I slip into everyday monotony, forgetting we are beholding this incredibly dynamic human being (each other) each and every day. I have layers of flesh on my body I never had before. Hmmm. It is tempting not to slip into negativity– God, Erin, get it together. Where did your highly motivated, hungry for life, nothing-less-than-perfect is acceptable self go?
And then I know– she went out the window. She threw herself into the wind and is gone. I broke through and was freed the day my sister Caitlin died. This is a fact. The Erin I knew back then died too, on that hospice bed with my baby sister. Present day Erin (me!) knows that all that stuff I thought mattered– achieving a lot, figuring it out, being perfect, getting a PhD, blah blah blah– none of that matters, really. What matters is love, and relating, and being open and raw and true. What matters is rest, and healing. Food and more nourishing food, because it’s good and our bodies need it. Taking time to be and feel and hurt and cry if necessary and again, love.
The day Caity died my world got distilled, and focused. I saw with such lazor clear focus that I knew it didn’t matter if I moved from California to St. Louis. I knew that I was made to minister and to love people with my life– not just write about it and intellectualize it. I knew I needed to marry John, make babies and build a life together. Mostly, mostly, mostly, I knew I needed to listen… and to not be afraid. Ever. When you walk through fire, when your heart bottoms out completely, when you midwife a beloved one into the arms of the Eternal, there is very, very little left in this world to be afraid of.
So all of that brought me here. To this, now. And again, I feel the call, the body urges, the deep knowing– keep listening, keep feeling, keep heeding the call. Allow, allow, allow, accept. You have said yes, so far, every step of the way. What is it like to keep saying yes without going anywhere, without changing anything, outwardly? What happens when it’s all inner– the inner soul work, the inter-relationship work, the focused, distilled, everyday work of being human?
I am made for the human AND I am made for the Divine. I believe they intersect, now. I believe we are called into those moments and asked to give them voice. Like last night, just before sunset, when the sun as it slipped away shined its radiant face through the stormy skies of a St. Louis day, shocking everything into luminescence. My love wrapped his arms around me in the open back door of our second story apartment and for a few moments we just stared, with our dog at our feet and the world lit from the inside out.
I am made for this– to pay attention. To resist distraction, addiction, the things that speak to us of sleepiness and forgetting. To give voice to the glory of what is.