01 August 2012 a post by Karen Wellman

Hanter Dro. Listening and dancing, the circle turns.

August is high summer; school is out and the holidays are here. It is a time for lazy days of sunshine and long evenings with friends and family. But even if the Gulf Stream really does move and we get some good weather this August the wheel of the year is turning and the nights are getting longer and the dews heavier. Many traditional communities have dances for summer and celebration, but don’t be distracted by the costumes or the stylised movements. Dance is a way of a community planning to deal with change.

In the west we seem to have lost much of our community dance. Dancing happens at parties and is mostly done alone. Community dance is different. It often involves very few steps but everyone knows them.

When someone starts to dance others join in, but then something very interesting happens, without talking and by non verbal negotiation the group works out how to move together. In the days before TV, radio, iPhones and downloads this was how a community practised working together. A community that dances together has been listening; to the music and to each other and will be stronger for the changing times ahead.

In a modern world we seem to have forgotten today how to listen to each other. When you look at people in public spaces they are plugged into the music or their phones. In our crowded cities and towns it isn’t always safe to make eye contact with strangers so we retreat into our own little safe bubbles.

But however much we are in our bubbles, the seasons still turn. Listening is an important part of dealing with change as we listen to ourselves, to others, to the world around us and to the divine. Listening gives us resources for life’s journey. When the seasons are good it is easier to learn to listen so that we are prepared when the chill winds blow.

Good listening takes practice, it is tiring; it needs concentration and focus. What we hear we may not like and there may need, like in the dance, to be negotiation and shuffling and a few odd steps in the wrong direction working through how the new situation fits into our rhythms and the rhythms of the people around us.

And the Lord of the Dance will be with us as we dance in celebration of the harvest, getting ready for the change in seasons ahead of us.

Simple Body Prayer for listening

hands in prayer and listening exercise, palms upwards

Sit somewhere comfortable and be aware of your breathing and your body.

If words help to still you here is a prayer.

‘Lord of Creation, you are in all things, help me to hear you in all I do and in all I am’

Place your hands on your heart.

Slowly bring your hands down until they are in front of you – rest them on your knees if that is a comfortable place for them to be but keep the palms facing upwards.

When you are ready bring your hands back to your heart.

‘Lord of Creation, you are in all things, help me to hear you in all I do and in all I am, Amen’

Resources

Circle Dance
International Folk Dance
English Folk Dance
Christian Dance Fellowship of GB

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