I am very moved by yesterday’s DM and the comments from readers in response to it.  And, in a special way, by the wonderful banner picture for which I thank my picture hunter and gatherer, Phila Hoopes  (For some DMs, Jerry Maynard and Cynthia Greb also hunt for pictures and I thank them for their work also).

“Indigenous Surge.” Indigenous dancers led the way for 10,000 marchers protesting the children’s graves at Canadian residential schools. Toronto, 6/6/2021. Photo by Michael Swan on Flickr.

One thing that moved me so deeply about the banner picture (which is repeated here) is its Vibrancy, its Aliveness, its Color, and the determination and Gift-giving on the part of the dancers who are  praying deeply in their sacred dance.  And the beautifying of the body. 

Once an Aboriginal woman in Australia said to me, “In our culture, we work four hours a day and the rest of the day we make things.”  

“What things do you make?” I asked.  

“Ceremony, ritual,” she said.  “We have to make our bodies as beautiful as the birds and the reptiles when we do ceremony; we have to teach the children; and gather the necessary feathers and sticks and prepare food and make musical instruments and fast and all else for the ceremony.”

Powwow dancers Russell Harjo, Leya Hale and Jennie Kappenman discuss the regalia they have designed for their performance of three unique Native American dances. Twin Cities PBS.

All this is the Via Creativa at work.  It is good work.

I loved the banner picture also because it brought back deep experiences I have had praying by dancing among indigenous peoples at Sundances and Powwows and how deep once’s connection to Mother Earth and Father Sky returns in one’s soul and also in the soul of a community.  Healing happens.

My Seneca friend, co-teacher and Franciscan Sister, Jose Hobday once said to me, “We Indians learn to dance before we learn to walk.”  That made no sense whatsoever to my Aristotelian logical mind.  

“How could one dance before one could walk?” I said to myself.  But I did not object to Jose.  I carried her statement with me for several years until one night I was part of a Pow Wow in Minnesota where about 700 of us were dancing/praying in concentric circles one beautiful night. 

The first-time powwow performance of untaught toddler Albert (A.J.) Apsassin on National Indigenous Day quickly went viral. His mom says ‘he’s a natural.’ Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The drum was pounding (the heart of the universe), chants were being sung in full voice, the stars were beaming, and Mother Earth, Father Sky and my heart were blending beautifully when all of a sudden a young Indian man with long-flowing black hair blowing wildly passed by me dancing madly with his tiny baby in his arms. 

I finally got it—Indians learn to dance before they walk when the ceremonies are honored.  Praying by dancing honors the first chakra, it connects us to both Mother Earth and Father Sky, psyche and cosmos unite again. 

 To be continued

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 255f.  

And Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest, pp. 143f.

And Matthew Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, pp. 196-200.

Also see Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: A powwow dancer holds her sleepy child as the sun sets on the Rama Powwow 2013. Photo by Robert Snache, SpiritHands Photography, on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Are you moved by meditating on yesterday’s banner picture in the context of Donna Schindler’s teachings on the “Soul Wound”?  How does it speak to you?  Is dancing an important way of praying for you?

Recommended Reading

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter

A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey

In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.
“This wise and marvelous book will profoundly inspire all those who love Merton and want to know him more deeply.” — Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

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8 thoughts on “Meditating Anew on Yesterday’s Banner Photo”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask in our “Queries for Contemplation”: “Are you moved by meditating on yesterday’s banner picture in the context of Donna Schindler’s teachings on the ‘Soul Wound’?” In view of Donna Schindler’s teachings on the “Soul Wound” I agree completely. I was also surprised when a Native American friend of mine here in Auburn, California told me that he knows Donna, and she used to live in our town! I only wish I knew that when she was here, so I could have here talk of her experiences with our Creation Spirituality Community.
    “How does it speak to you?” It speaks to me in my body and in my subjective irrational side. And I am glad it does because sometimes I need a vacation from my objective rational side.
    “Is dancing an important way of praying for you?” It is for me! Jose Hobday, who was a native elder, taught us how to dance like Native Americans in our class on Native American Spirituality, I have also danced “Spiral Dances ” with Starhawk, Dances for World Peace with Joanna Macy, “Trance Dancing” with Gabrielle Roth, and Sufi Dancing with our teacher, Sydhasa.

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    Jeanette Metler

    In today’s DM, Mathews words, “Dance is an expression of the Love and Passion for life”, really resonated with me. I have been a prayer dancer and a drummer/singer at many Eagle Dances and Sundances. The style of these prayer dances is different than Powwow. In the style I learnt, we are all in a very large circle and in the center of this circle is a decorated tree. The Tree, represents the Tree of Life. We dance back and forth, offering our prayers to the Tree of Life, and the energy of these prayers reaches down into the Earth, the So Below, and into the Sky, the As Above. We never turn our back on the Tree of Life as we dance to and fro. While we dance we blow an Eagle whistle the whole time, as the cry of the Eagle raises our prayers to the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit. We wear skirts with long fringes, connecting with the ancestors, and our blouses have long coloured ribbons, representing the six directions. We participate in two sweat lodges, one before we begin the dance, then another when we complete the dance. We also open and close with Pipe Ceremonies. We dry fast for the entire dance. We dance together in prayer for either one full 24 hour day and night, or for three full days and nights… depending on the intent of the dance. We also dance our shields awake, that are hung within the circle in our lane in which we dance. The direction we dance in is the energy we contribute to the whole.

    In and through these ceremonial and sacred dances, you enter into an altered state of conscious awareness… connecting with the spiritual realm. You awaken and remember your spiritual connection… the sacred relationship you have with the all and the everything of creation and the medicine that you have been blessed with, as a gift to be given and shared, for the good of the whole. You awaken and remember to who you are, where you come from, why you are here and where you are going. After these dances, you do your best to walk this beauty way out in your everyday life. Your return each year… continuing to kindle the spark, the light, the flame, the sacred inner fire of all of this LOVE and PASSION for Life, alive within you.

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    Matthew, thank you for reminding us again in your DM of the valuable Sacred traditions of Indigenous Spirituality and culture (like all our spiritual mystical traditions) for contemporary human beings and society — the Sacredness of the Divine Loving~Wisdom~Creative~Beautiful~Joyful~Oneness Spirit Present within and among us in our eternal souls, relationships, nature, Mother Earth and all her creatures, and All the ongoing Creation of the Universe~Cosmos… human and Divine… psyche and Cosmos….

  4. Avatar

    Hello –
    I live I. Southern Indiana. I am trying to learn more about religious practices(modern day) by descendants of the Wea tribe, the Potawatomi and the Piankashaw. Any help/ would be appreciated.

    I am doing this research because I am a member of the InterFaith Council of the Wabash Valley, a group of diverse spiritual, humanistic and traditional belief systems so we can learn and share, respect and support other faith traditions.
    Deb Sitarski

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    Great Mystery—Great LOVE—Wakan Tanka . . . have you met the Universal Christ of Divine LOVE? When you do you will enter into the Divine Dance.

    Mitákuye oyàsin. ??❤️

  6. Avatar
    Carolyn Winters

    Matthew, thank you! These posts move me as I consider my life’s experiences with the Original peoples of Alaska and have forwarded yesterday and today’s meditations to some.

    I read Original Blessing about 1980. It freed me and it also deeply shaped my approach to my life and work in Alaska – and ever since. The classes I’ve taken from you continue to stretch and enrich my perspective, especially as I come from a rural (northern Bay Area) Presbyterian background.

    So, again, thank you!

  7. Avatar
    Barbara McGurran

    Thank you Patrick for the simplicity of your comments. In simplicity there is complexity(and truth.)

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