I’m doing this amazing creativity group with modest, wonderful people in a church downtown; it’s led by a friend and mentor of mine who is also doing the whole Parker Palmer Courage and Renewal thing. In short, it’s a whole lot of magic. And I try to make sense of it, to capture Lessons and to develop Practices, in the vain hope that I can transform my everyday if I just carry this with me…but I’m learning just to trust that it comes back.
There are always poems, for starters, which sets up the whole sacred space thing right off the bat. Poems read ALOUD. Poems about how we make space for ourselves, how we listen to the quiet, how we weave together the “ill-matched threads” of our lives (Rilke). And there is laughter (people were generous about my anguish: “WHY DON’T THE DAMN THREADS MATCH?”). But most of all, there is focus. For once in my life, I am encouraged to just BE there, to consider one thing at a time, to do one exercise or craft, to listen to the voices of our group, one at a time. And these people are so brave, so talented. This space becomes, for me, what I imagine church is for others…a time to be in company of one’s best self and one’s deepest truths, and to do so with others in curiosity and support. I only wish it were more than once a month, but I suspect its rarity is part of its magic.
Last week, as we drew to a close, we were invited into the sanctuary for a surprise.
It was dark in there, and empty, and the cold air stretched far above our heads. As we stepped carefully, quietly, toward the front pews, one of our group moved toward the grand piano. With calm confidence, she lifted the lid; the hinges did not squeak, but we could hear their conversation with the wood they bind. She propped up the top, the skin of her hands speaking with the glossy surface in all that stillness. And then she sat to play.
It was Schubert, she said, an impromptu, and she lifted her hands and the world poured out of her. Liquid light and dancing dust and all the interweavings of a flock in flight. I sat and breathed the aged air, eyes closed, and everything else wide open.
And the best part? Not even the transformation of those moments, the full-bodied memory I carry. Not even the closeness of that group to make and witness such a thing. The best part is knowing that this exists in the world, despite everything else. This exists and is just as real as all the chaos and brutality; what’s more, I wonder, perhaps the best way to work on that is this?