As some readers will know, this blog started out with the name Immanential Devotions. And while it isn’t the only project underway, it still retains a special place in my heart.
An “immanential devotion” is anything done with reverence, the reverentialness of which helps one be reverent about the world. Anything done with “mindfulness”, as a conscious practice, can function to help keep us aware of the sacredness of Earthly Life and of our part in reflecting and honouring that sacred character: doing the dishes, gardening, walking in a park, but especially dancing, these and many more are ways to enter into worship through physicality.
Among the practices that one can do, and that is particularly effective, is “Danced Prayer. Prayers can come from all and every tradition that the human cultures of Earth have developed. Thus, this Inter-faith danced prayer practice shares and deepens our common commitment to showing reverence for the Earth Life, of which we all a part.
For the better part of four years, I had the privilege of being the “Danced Prayer Mistress of a United Church. Coming from a deep Protestant tradition in which people usually sit during “worship”, gently encouraging people to add some movement, to engage body, as well as voice (in singing) and mind (in listening to sermons, homilies, and spoken prayers) was both a challenge and a great pleasure, By adding “body” into worship, the worship experience becomes more holistic. Indeed, some of you may know about and participate in “Sacred Circle Dance” – which is simple choreography done to beautiful music. SCD has a long and venerable history in Canada and if you are interested in SCD, there is probably a Circle near you. Immanential Devotions/Ecumenical Danced Prayer is a bit different, starting from existing Prayers, and adds movement that emerges from the meaning of the text. While music can be part of this, silence also creates a special atmosphere for deep contemplation and meditation through physical focus.
We started with a simple prayer, one I still do each and everyday: Spirit of Life. Think about the words and notice how you feel like responding in gesture.
In the fall of this coming year, I will be offering Ecumenical Danced Prayer at a community centre here in Ottawa. Stand by for more information about time, place and cost (will be modest – $15 per class or $75 for a six week course – but class size will be limited to 15, so register early, once the information is up and available). Be prepared to bring along a prayer that has meaning for you to share with the group.