Prayer – an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with divinity.
I have a very active life of prayer without affiliation to any denomination or faith, although I have visited and studied many of them. I have also explored the world of science and the numerous explanations for the great conundrum of life on this planet. For me, prayer is about expressing gratitude and developing a relationship with the Universe and all of its truly rapturous mysteries. Prayer is not something one only does in a Church or to ask favors of whatever your notion of “God” is. Prayer is living your life in a conscious, grateful manner with compassion and love for all beings and thankfulness for this beautiful place we call home; Earth. And for being witness to the heaven and the hell right in front of us in our daily lives, and responding accordingly. Prayer is what you “do.” Your spirituality is who you “are.” Whether you believe in the transcendental or the amazing enigmas revealed to us through science, or both, I think when people do pray (express wonder and gratitude for life and the Universe) we are able to live in a more conscious manner. I know I do anyway. It’s a means of adding more awareness and richness to our existence in THIS moment in time and space and remembering that all things are infinite. All things connected. Infinitely changing, infinitely the same.
One of my favorite books of all time is The Anthropology of Turquoiseby Ellen Meloy. Her writing is pure poetry and she is, like myself, “a creature of place.” This is an interesting archived interview I found of hers today on NPR. Thought I’d share:
From this interview, something Meloy said resonated genuinely with me. She said she felt a bone deep, fierce attachment to the landscape: “I sometimes can’t tell where my body stops and the desert begins. There’s more to this bond than a cosmic flakiness the experts say. The draw to certain kinds of landscapes is also biological. Neurologists suggest that a keen human sensitivity to color begins when we are infants. An aesthetic sense, an intuitive link, can then grow as strong as a fingerprint, defying logic, inviting the helpless surrender of a love affair. Intoxication with color may express itself as a profound attachment to landscape.” Turquoise has become my favorite color. It used to be purple, but as I have grown and changed, turquoise has become more quintessentially evocative to my conscience.
I highly recommend EVERYONE and anyone involved in the creative path watch this TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. It has something for everyone. Science, classic history from antiquity, writing, faeries, Dobby the House Elf, African Dance, trance/possession dance, Tom Waits, bullfighting, Flamenco, but above all inspiration and a fantastic new approach to viewing and courting our elusive genius. Olé!
Well, since most of my attempts at pursuing more academic training has met with resistance in our new abode, I’ve decided to bring my focus back into dance. I’m going to start taking some classes from the multi-talented Amirah aka Dr. Wampler.
Amirah began her dance journey at the age of 3, and has passionately explored the art form ever since. As a competitive gymnast for 10 years, she extensively studied ballet, modern dance, and hip hop. She continued modern dance while at college, studying under Hilary McDaniels-Douglass. It was at this community center she heard the jingling of hipscarves for the first time. In 2002, Amirah began studying belly dance under Shuvani of Oasis Belly Dancers. From there, she and fellow students went on to co-found Mirage Bellydancers, a Purdue University Official Student Organization, in 2004. Amirah has served as secretary and president, and is currently the head instructor.
While she mostly performs tribal fusion styles, Amirah enjoys studying and performing all styles of belly dance. Her personal style is a fusion of modern dance, hip hop, and pop and locking, with tribal and cabaret stylizations. As an instructor, Amirah focuses on technique and muscle control as a foundation to all forms of the dance. She concentrates on teaching her students concepts which they can apply many different ways to help inspire them to hone in on their own style. Amirah is also quite passionate about playing music, and has been a member of Indy’s 16th century rock band, Il Troubadore since 2007, with whom she dances and plays Middle Eastern clarinet, dumbek, and riq.
I’m very excited to be a student again and to have the opportunity to learn from someone who has such an extensive dance background. Adding more layers to my passion for dance
Walking through fields of alfalfa at twilight
here in the high desert plains,
killdeer song surrounds me under
a cloak of cricket serenades.
Deep lilac light clings to the horizon
clouds congregate, in lush wreaths of violet.
The hair on my arms stand on end,
the air is charged with electricity,
heat galvanizing in tension above.
A storm is coming.
I dance in the wet grass to the tempo of thunder,
a cannonade crack ripping the skyline.
The night shade opens up and the gods baptize me in
warm sheets of balmy rain.
Steam rises from sweltering concrete,
the flash of light overhead reflected in black asphalt pools.
Dogs bay, horses race back and forth in their paddocks,
their human-like screams resounding.
And I dance and I stand beneath the dark heavens,
palms raised, filling with water,
drinking in the heavy scent of sage,
tongue extended, tasting the torrent, soaked.
And with every beat of my heart, I know,
in this moment, at this time,
there’s nowhere else on Earth I’d rather be.
I often hear people using the word “sacrifice” rather freely to indicate giving something up unwilling, or being forced to perform some act of contrition or separation from. However, our word sacrifice is from the Latin word “sacer,” which means “to make sacred, to consecrate, to make holy.” The Greek word for “healing” originally meant, “sacrifice to the gods.” The act of sacrifice was to literally place upon the altar of the gods, e.g., to “surrender,” the part of the self that had been acting profanely (without love; to treat something sacred with abuse, irreverence, or contempt). To sacrifice was to give up the short-term benefit of ego-based (non-loving; non-sacred) behavior, in favor of the longer-term, more positive, benefit of holding sacred space. In its true form then, the act of sacrifice was to eliminate the influence of ego (the toxicity of conflict and dissension), so that the individual could become healed, e.g., brought into greater harmony. Sacrifice allows us to reconnect with our true self. When we question our beliefs and leave our ego-driven behavior behind, we make a sacrifice. We give up the immediate gratification because we realize we no longer “need” these things. When viewed from the lens of it’s actual denotative meaning, to make a “sacrifice” then is actually a very noble and beautiful thing…to make something sacred.
A soulmate is an ongoing connection with another individual that the soul picks up again in various times and places over lifetimes. We are attracted to another person at a soul level not because that person is our unique complement, but because by being with that individual, we are somehow provided with an impetus to become whole ourselves. ~Edgar Cayce