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“We Dance Wild” – A Poem for the Abbey by Joel McKerrow (a love note)

Dearest monks and artists,

We have had an amazing spring full of travel and teaching. In March we led a group of young adults on a pilgrimage to Glendalough. In April, I went back to the Northwest U.S. for three weeks of leading retreats and trainings. May brought us to Vienna to lead a monastic pilgrimage there, and in June we led a group of pilgrims here in Galway. The season has felt richly blessed. This work is at heart about relationship, and to spend time with so many beautiful souls in such amazing places feels abundant beyond measure.

Rebecca Browne - pilgrimage in IrelandSummer brings some time for spaciousness at the Abbey, time for John and I to rest and renew, as well as do some dreaming together for what is unfolding next. I also have another book project to work on and I am excited to have long stretches of time to sink into the creative process.

Several months ago, an Australian spoken word artist whose work I love, Joel McKerrow, was having a fundraising campaign for his new album. I made a donation at the level where Joel would write a poem for me, and I sent him the web page for the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks to see what might be inspired. I really love what emerged:

To hear Joel reading these words himself click here for the audio file>>

We dance. We dance wild.
Not a two step, structured repetition. We dance large.
We dance flailing arms.
We dance the erratic and the wriggle,
the blunder, stumble and fall with no need to get back up again.
For our fumbles are our dance
and our dance is our rebellion and our declaration and our surrender.
Our falling to the floor is a knowing that it is only in the places
of dust and grime and footprint, only in the failed step and the rusty body, only in the falling
that we can ever truly meet the holy and the sacred.
We meet God on the floor.

So we choose to not rise too quickly,
to not keep ourselves together,
to not think we have this nailed,
this life, this God, this mystery, this question.
Our dancing is our stumbling and our stumbling is our dancing
and how disorderly we may seem,
and how undignified and messy,
we dive headfirst into not having the answers,
giving ourselves to a more spacious rhythm.
The song that is heard only in the silence,
only in the listening ear,
only in the unexplored landscape.
The whisper at the edges.

We find ourselves
when we lose ourselves.
The wilderness and the wild.
The Christ who gathers.
The Christ who descends.
The giving up of control.
The smallness of humility.
The largeness of the mystery.
The immensity of seeking the sacred in everything.
Never running from life
but plunging ourselves more wholly into her.
We dance and we feel our lumbered bodies begin to move.
We dance and we feel the heavy begin to take flight.
We dance to find liberation.

We dance to bring redemption,
the untwisting of the beautiful,
We dance to the new rhythm, the ancient rhythm, the holy rhythm,
the rhythm that holds it all together.
We dance to bring space.
We dance to hold hands.
We dance and we dance and we dance and we dance
until we are dizzy and falling.
We dance. We dance wild.

We are the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks.
—Joel McKerrow

To hear Joel reading these words himself click here for the audio file>>

I am so grateful to Joel for capturing the spirit of this community so beautifully.

Be sure to visit Joel’s website and check out his first album One Foot in the Clay (I especially love his poem Dweller and often play it for our pilgrimages and the powerful poem God so rooted in mystical tradition) and his newest album Welcome Home (the title track is a powerful anthem for artists and The Search calls us to make journeys to the wild edges). He is a very talented and soulful artist.

Will you dance today dear monks?


With great and growing love,


Photo © Rebecca Browne from our recent pilgrimage in Ireland

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4 Responses

  1. I dance…with the dying

    hooked up to their chemo poles, I invite these precious children
    to write and dance
    their journey of cancer
    through their fears and hopes

    amidst and into the arms

    of their true Journey mate