One Year Later

I checked the date of my very first Art Pilgrimage post. Tomorrow marks one year.

One year since I began in spite of feeling like an impostor. One year since I bought pastels. Can you believe it?

I hardly can.

And I am not ready to end the journey.

This coming year will be different. The visual arts will still be with me, but I am moving on to the art of dance. It seems fitting that today I went to the library and found books on ballet (and a spicy looking memoir on tango). I also picked up two films, one on Jerome Robbins and one on Martha Graham.

Can I tell you I never foresaw where this Pilgrimage would take me?

I'm in it for at least another year. And who knows where it will take me still...

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In the Beginning Was the Dance

Dance gets around my ordinary ways of thinking. I can't evaluate, process, analyze. I have to imitate, mirror, experience. It asks things of me I don't know how to give. It makes me a child again, seeking, watching.

Yesterday I smiled through much of my ballet dancing. It was reaching into untouched places, pulling up joy, spilling it out of toes and fingertips. If I could have laughed without causing too much interruption, I believe I would have.

Then, last night, awakened from dreams, I remembered a dancer I met in New York City this spring. I don't know what we were talking about, but I suddenly said to him, "In the beginning was the dance..." And I pictured the Holy Spirit hovering over the waters like a dove, dancing us into existence.

I also remembered an exchange I had with someone else who could not accept that God speaks through much of anything but words and text. "In the beginning was the Word..." he told me. I asked him what was in the end. Asked him to look at John-the-disciple's other ways of picturing God in Revelation. Secretly, I also wanted to say, "In the beginning was the dance..." To my mind, it's there in Proverbs too... Wisdom, the Christ-figure, dancing at the feet of God at the moment of Creation, just like a child.

In the beginning was the dance. And I am learning how to let it take me in its arms. Turn me out to the world.

Laura's Silence

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Dancing with the General

Some people can change a whole room by their presence.

That's what she did yesterday.

My regular new acquaintances weren't at ballet. But she was.

I had never met her before, and as I took my place at the barre I felt uncomfortable, like I had no business sharing this space with her.

Was it the way she literally looked down her nose when she talked to the teacher? Or maybe it was the way she strutted like a General across the floor, shoulders back, each sway of the hip a declaration or a dare.

I felt tears rise. How could it be that I wanted to cry like a little child and run out of the room? I purposed to ignore her, but it was work. I accomplished less in her presence. I thought maybe I should salute her and say, "Yes, General Noriega."

It was a reminder to me of how fragile beginnings can be. And how we must not let things get in our way. And how we must try not to get in the way of others who are beginning things that long ago became second nature to us.

Tomorrow, if The General is there, I think I will pretend I'm a child picking daisies and offering them to the air.

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Sermon Notes Poetry: 2 Thessalonians

Maybe you know who started all this poetry-during-sermons stuff. And who followed suit. Then, like another wise soul has said, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

If my pastor ever reads these, he will know I was listening. Sort of. I apologize (sort of) for chronicling his sermon on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 by adding my odd daydreams to his earnest words.


Where does
the truth lie,
in what back room
does it spread itself
flat to the floor
and pretend.


is coffee beans
never finding their way
to your grinder
or a French press,
but instead pouring
like brown pearls
into a dolphined sea.


Jesus will come
with flowers
and blazing angels,
blast the little herb garden
into bloom.


destruction is
saying the garden
is okay, it is just
okay. Take your
bouquet of blazing
angels and put it in
the neighbor's yard.
I will watch from
the back window.


Do we know, did we want
to know, wouldn't we
rather stick with the oregano
leaning, sage sprawling,
rosemary scrubbing the
edge of each day?


Through the window,
nose pressed
to rippled glass,
could I have any
sense of what
I was missing.

Long-Term Perspective

If I unlatch the
wrought iron gate,
Jesus will grow in me,
and the heat of his fiery
eyes will set the tips
of my petals aflame.

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Dancing on Spec

What does it take to dance?

Maybe the same things it takes to write.

Julia Cameron says she writes on spec. In other words, she doesn't need a guarantee that her writing will "go anywhere." She gives herself permission to simply write for the joy of it. When counseling a writing friend who is afraid of looking foolish, she reminds, "All we need is the courage to do the next right thing."

I have been thinking about this before Julia said it. I have been thinking about what it takes to play piano, study French, dance ballet. All these things have required permission from me. Permission to do one thing at a time. One more scale under my fingers, one more foreign phrase, and now one more pointed toe.

To the fearful writer friend, Julia also says, "Don't worry about being new. Worry about being human."


Don't worry about being Chopin, worry about feeling the notes. Don't worry about working as a translator, worry about the way French caresses the heart. Don't worry about being Nutcracker material (slim, graceful, strong), just worry about embracing the surprise of movement.

Go ahead, I hear Julia say. Play, speak, dance on spec. The delight is yours.

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After The Dressing Room

Yesterday I was happy with my body.

Today, not so much.

Shopping for ballet leggings can do that to a person. Suddenly the shape of my legs was made real by black cotton, running from ankle to thigh and onward, hugging all the way.

Tomorrow I am going to try to be happy with my body again. Or maybe even this afternoon, if I find it in me. I think it will come to this: remembering there is art in this body, art that wants to reach through my fingertips, touch the ceiling.

I should have known that an art pilgrimage would go all the way. Ask me to love everything about me, on my way to loving the world.

Let me begin with my feet then. I like the way they curve when I point my toes. I won't try to love more than this for today. Just my feet. And the way they curve.

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