Sunday, November 22, 2009

Merlinda Bobis writes of small stories and big stories.
small: personal, familial, local
big: master narratives of nation, empire, history, global
how do we keep the small stories from being eaten by the big story?
how do we write our small stories so that they can subvert the big story?

what if the small story carries the weight of the big story or lives in its shadow unconsciously?
can the small story be redeemed? can we rewrite the story?

i think of these questions as i grapple with the meaning of death and our stories about death.
what do we tell each other about the meaning of someone's life as this life passes through death's door.

what do we tell ourselves about death itself?

as i have been around death lately, i find myself entrained by the invitation of the deep well to go beyond cultural and religious beliefs. i am conditioned by civilization to fear death and to keep it at bay. this is why we have developed a health care industry that treats the body as a machine to be fixed. we treat the soul as something that departs and goes to heaven when the body dies. what if we cared for the soul as much as we care about our bodies? as in 'soulful bodies' -- how different would our stories be?

the days of witnessing the rituals of grieving touches on my own sense of mortality and my own fear of dying. i have new lessons to learn. i feel the need to go to the deep well often to pull my mind out of its conditioned thoughts, to honor and thank my body, to learn what my own small story is and to see it in the light of the big stories that cast long and dark shadows. when i can shift from fear to no-fear, i feel the shift in my mood, i sense the body relax, i feel the breath unloading grief, worry, fear, anger, agitation.

sometimes i imagine what my babaylan ancestors might have done for the community when a member is dying. i imagine that fear had no role in their rituals. i imagine the ritual that entwines the spirit world with the physical one. in their dance, the spirits join in, their sorrow and joy indistinguishable because it is all sacred energy.

this is what i need to learn. how do we create a container for our grief/s so that we may mourn in community? how do we honor death and welcome it as part of the sacred order? how do we help each other undo the damage of a culture/civilization that is based on fear and escape from fear?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

thank you, Naomi and Marina! for covering my classes while i was on bereavement leave.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

weeping is like singing.

remember the dead by singing.

singing returns the body to its native inscriptions.

sing from the groin.

the groin is the inexhaustible resource

(from Merlinda Bobis).

Monday, November 09, 2009

i want to learn how to deploy tenderness.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

overheard on the radio the other day
a military general weighing in on the healthcare debate.
he said that they are seeing new recruits who are less physically fit and this doesn't bode well for the military. he said that soldiers often have to work in harsh environments that require ultimate physical and mental fitness -- Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

does anyone else see the irony in this?

i better see the men who stare at goats...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Just finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's History of Collective Joy

Bai Liza Saway told us the other night that in their Talaandig community everybody dances. From toddlers to elders, everyone dances at the ritual gatherings of the community. she said that in order to be a good leader, one must be a good dancer. a good dancer is someone who grows up with dance in her bones, with rhythm in her steps to keep up with the drums, and a dancer knows how to balance.

we don't often equate leadership qualities with the ability to dance. but doesn't it make sense?

Ehrenreich's book talks about the loss of our sense of collective joy as our bodies were tamed and suppressed by the demands of modernity. this loss needs healing. why not reclaim our distinctively human heritage as creatures who can generate their own ecstatic pleasures out of music, color, feasting, and dance? (260)

at our Center for Babaylan Studies fundraising events for the Babaylan Conference, we end with a tribal jam. drums, bells, gongs...and the release of our collective joy! come join us at the next events:

Nov. 21 -- Hanuman Healing Center on 18th St in San Francisco, 5-9pm
Nov. 22 -- Tribal Cafe in Los Angeles, 4-7pm


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