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NEW 8th principle of the Monk Manifesto:
*I commit to being a dancing monk, cultivating creative joy and letting my body and "heart overflow with the inexpressible delights of love."*
The 7th principle of the Monk Manifesto states: "I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations."
For me, this means, that everything is in process, everything is open to change, especially my own heart and understanding. So it feels right and true that I would discover a longing to add another principle to the 7 we have been deepening into these last several years, to recognize that as my own wisdom in life deepens I may need to add and adjust what I have said before.
It feels especially appropriate to share this 8th principle as I get ready to lead a retreat this week, which when I led it last year was the seed that planted the inspiration for the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks. The part in quotes at the end of the 8th principle comes from the Prologue of Benedict's Rule.
The Christmas after I turned 40 I traveled to Vienna by myself and had a pulmonary embolism which landed me in the hospital. Four months later, still shaken by this encounter with death, I traveled to the desert in New Mexico to be with what had happened. It was here that I rediscovered dance again and in the years since it has begun radically informing how I understand my path as a monk in the world. It has been calling me to the deepest kind of creative joy, a joy that is not mere happiness, or a denial of the reality of pain and suffering, but joy which dips me into the deepest well of nourishment and calls me to trust in the fundamental goodness of life even when things around me seem to be saying otherwise. And I touch into this well most often when I make time to dance and write and receive photos, or when I make time to immerse myself in the beauty of creation. The Abbey of the Arts' twin emphasis has always been on both contemplation and creativity. Both of these paths nourish me by drawing me down into this Source.
In the coming days I will be creating a new version of the Monk Manifesto PDF for you to print easily. I have also asked Kristin Noelle, who created the wonderful series of drawings to accompany the original 7 principles, to add an 8th image, which will also get added to the video. Look for those in the next couple of weeks and I will definitely let you know in a future love note.
I will also be adding a new "lesson" to the free Monk in the World e-course and will let you know when that is posted as well. And my hope is, when I am back from traveling, to also create a small group resource for those of you who want to move through the Monk in the World material with others.
My web person has created some great buttons for those of you who want to share your commitment to being a monk in the world or dancing monk with others on your blog or Facebook page. You can find them at this link. It would be so wonderful to see Facebook flooded with "I am a dancing monk" buttons! Please tag me when you post.
Last week I spent an incredible five days with those attending our Awakening the Creative Spirit intensive who want to learn how to bring the expressive arts to their own communities (FYI: the only time this program will be offered in 2014 is at the Forest of Peace retreat center near Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 29-May 4 and only three spaces left!). During this past week full of creative exploration in community I had a dream:
I was part of a revolutionary group called The Change and the time came to activate our mission. We had to leave our homes because there were people who were trying to sabotage what we were doing, but we were gathering together to empower one another, and getting ready to bring our message to the world.
As the week unfolded and I had a chance to be with the images and invitation, I realized here I was, gathered with my community to be empowered to continue bringing the creative joy and aliveness of the arts into the world. That this truly is a revolution, an invitation to transform the way we move through the world, so we no longer rely so heavily on logic and planning and achievement, but yield to the creative and intuitive impulse moving through us from the Great Artist.
When the week was drawing to a close, there is always a sadness at having to leave the safe and sacred space we have created together. And yet, as I reminded the group, we always gather knowing we will be returning to our communities after our season together is done. The creative joy we are nourished by is to be shared far and wide.
So if you are here with me and actively nurturing the contemplative and creative path in your own life, you are part of The Change as well! I know the dream has many more layers to explore, but I already feel vitalized by its initial message to me.
We begin a new month at the Abbey with a new Community Lectio Divina invitation. This month we are praying together with a beautiful poem by Yehuda Amichai titled "The Place Where we Are Right."
If you are in the Midwest, I would love to see you in Chicago on October 19th, where we will gather together for creative inspiration and empowerment, and dip down into that Holy Source of joy and aliveness. I would be so grateful if you could share this invitation with other Midwest monks you might know.
With great and growing love,
*Photo: Love discovered on a Seattle sidewalk