Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Rare Religious Experience

     Last Saturday evening Judy and I attended a local barn dance, an annual 'cultic' event that signals the end of summer and the resultant changes. Many cottagers won't be seen for six months, as well as the 'snow birds' soon departing. There was, as usual, great food (pot-luck) and our favourite band did a wonderful job of keeping us on the floor. To me, it soon became more than just a very enjoyable social evening.
    In our sophisticated and 'modern' culture, we are so used to separating events and experiences into different slots, economic, recreational, family, religious, social, and so on. We are probably the most fragmented culture the world has ever seen. We are also the least mentally healthy.
   'Religious' to many of us has become a 'bad word'; we might prefer to use 'spiritual'. Both these words refer to a piece of us that we usually keep quite private and apart from our 'usual' lives. What a shame. As I have used the word in the title, religious is not a set of beliefs, but an acknowledgement of a capacity and need in each of us to join our deepest selves with not only each other, but the whole cosmos in which we exist.
    How did this dance come to be so transformed for me? To be honest, I had some 'help from my fiends'. Judy and I are both waiting for knee replacements. Judy will be first in line, having one knee 'done' in just three weeks. I'm waiting for both of mine. We're both pretty slow moving right now and becoming increasingly limited by pain. I rarely take anything to help the situation but I have found that the right combination of Tylenol 3 and tequila enables me to dance for quite a while. (Polkas and 'jive' are still not possible.)
    We danced. Just as important, I sat. I enjoyed listening to the hum of friendly conversation, seeing the mix and flow of the folks there, from teens to those in their nineties, very wealthy and very not, pro or con on the wind turbine issue, fourth generation farmer or summer people. I allowed that wonderful 'hum' to roll up within me and go out, spin around the world and mingle with all the other 'hums', to enter the collective of star dust from which we all come. I tried to be open to the countless combinations of hopes, hurts, dreams, concerns, fears and love that was not only within that room, but was represented there of all people and all times. I was blessed by and within it.
    Using traditional Christian imagery, the Holy Spirit was alive and well, flying as a dove over and around us, I doubt very much if She would have been as active in any church service the next (Sunday) morning even with the formal prayers and hymns. The popular songs of joy, life, sorrow and love that the band shared were quite enabling for 'holy joy and live' to be experienced.
   I hope, upon reflection, that more of us will recognize the 'holiness' of events, be they in crowds or alone. We are spiritual beings and our capacity to grow spiritually is only limited by our fears and imaginations. We are truly foolish if we allow the past to turn us off to new life. Let us begin to share again what we truly are and may become.