We have (another) new bishop in the Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA. He was installed in October, at Manhattan's Central Synagogue -- yes, Synagogue. It is a beautiful and inspiring worship space; the Rabbi apparently has a good and close relationship with a number of Lutheran clergy in Midtown--most notably, Pr. Derr at St. Peter's. Remarkably, the synagogue permitted us Lutherans to hallow the space for Christian worship, including celebration of the Eucharist. Even more remarkably, one of my colleagues remembered that I have a background in dance, including liturgical dance...and with much ambivalence, I agreed to participate.
It was kind of a last minute thing...I wasn't sure until a week before that I'd even be available. There was only one time to see the space, feel the space, grasp the flow of the liturgy and endeavor to get inside the thinking of the worship planners who thought that having dance would be a good idea. A concept & choreography evolved--acknowledging the Ark and the prophetic word of God's salvation, turning and "delivering it" to the people gathered, movement to hallow the space with the sign of the Cross, movement noting the pulpit and brought-in-for-the-occasion-water-bowl for the font, setting of the table, filling the font, and a joyous call to worship, danced in procession.
The catch being -- I hadn't performed anywhere in 5 years; and hadn't done liturgical dance in a good while longer; age has begun to catch up with various parts of my body. I had performance anxiety. What to do? Brainspotting to the rescue.
Brainspotting, a therapeutic modality that bridges the psychological and emotional/physiological, can be used to process trauma and other distresses of life, for strengthening of internal resources, and/or to quell anxiety and enhance performance and creativity. In Brainspotting, a bodily, felt sense of activation is connected with a particular eye position and focus, and processing unfolds from there. Dr. David Grand, its developer, is my mentor, and he has taught me well. He encourages my creativity as a therapist, with Brainspotting -- and without it.
Back at the Bishop's installation. . . "Spirit-spotting" began. I "went inside" myself, to pray, and to ascertain my felt sense of the Holy Spirit within, the Source of all creativity. The felt sense was in the crown of my head, my shoulders, and my breath. Incarnational spiritual resources. I found the eye position that maximized the felt sense of the Spirit, and at once, my heart palpitations released, my breathing became deeper and slower, and I felt a reassuring groundedness. Out into the "chancel" I went, consecrating space, table, pulpit and font in movement. . . then into the center aisle, for the processional. Halfway up the aisle, my eyes made contact with those of Sharon Wilson, a faithful laywoman who works tirelessly for healing for women, especially those who have been abused at home. She was beaming. And I relaxed into the joy of healing movement in that sacred space. I remembered why I so love to dance. Dance is freedom, liberation; full-body worship. It is also hard work, requiring discipline and constant training. And flexibility -- of body and mind.
Flexibility, when the organ improvisation usurps the best-conceived choreographic plan--and calls forth improvisation, or extemporaneous, movement. Sometimes, such flexibility is just plain fun.
The Bishop was installed; the juice and cheese reception was "lovely" in the Citigroup Atrium. And I danced, in spirit, all the way home.
Welcome, Grace & Peace...
Welcome to my blog, a transdisciplinary place of reflection on creativity, pastoral theology, and psychotherapy. Posts are few, so check back periodically to see what's new. Enjoy!
The Rev. Martha S. Jacobi., PhD, LCSW
The Rev. Martha S. Jacobi., PhD, LCSW