Sunday, August 6, 2017

It Happened at Dance Camp

2 Samuel 6:5
Roger Lynn
August 6, 2017
(click here for the audio for this sermon)

I spent this past week basking in bliss at Wilderness Dance Camp on the shore of Flathead Lake. The Dances of Universal Peace are a deeply spiritual practice for me, and they are also an experience that is difficult to describe. They consist of simple body movements done with a group in a circle, combined with the singing of songs which are inspired by the faith traditions of the world. They are heart based, rather than head based. And they help me remember that in spite of the different words and different images being used, faith, wherever and however it appears, is about helping us connect to Sacred Source. This is what I posted on Facebook last Sunday when we arrived at camp: 85 open-hearted people + a beautiful, colorful, open air tent + amazing musicians + singing beautiful sacred songs from the world's faith traditions + dancing barefoot on grass = an absolutely perfect way to spend a week. It is an experience that feeds all my senses – from the visually beautiful tent we dance under, to the acoustically wonderful music, to the taste of delicious food, to the smell of the trees, to the feel of feet on grass and hands holding hands – and that whole delicious sensual feast feeds my soul. Our guest dance leader, Grace Marie, introduced us to a Shamanic Creation Prayer which expresses all of this quite wonderfully.
Every leaf of every tree feeds my soul.
The sun and the rain feeds my soul.
And every creature of the earth, and of the air, and of the waters feeds my soul.
And every being that I meet feeds my soul.
All of creation feeds my soul.

Every morning we began our dancing with an Invocation which was originally written by Hazrat Inayat Khan, the spiritual grandfather of the Dances.
Towards the One
The Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty
The Only Being
United with all the illuminated souls
who form the embodiment of the Master
the Spirit of Guidance
It is a reminder that as we engage in the spiritual practice of the Dances we are seeking to open ourselves to an active, experiential connection with the One reality, which we sometimes call God, but which also includes all of humanity and, indeed, all of creation. Separation is an illusion.

The nature of this connection which we seek to encourage and experience is beautifully expressed in a piece by Daniel Rhiger. We were introduced to it by our other guest musician, an amazing vocalist and director named Aslan. This piece reminded me that the Sacred Reality of the Divine stands in stark contrast to what the voices of our culture often proclaim as truth.
“I am Truth beyond Reason.
I am Knowing beyond Thought.
I am Grace beyond Effort.
I am Strength beyond Force.
I am Love beyond all expectation.
I am Peace beyond time. I am Love in motion.
I am Life Divine.”

One of the powerful experiences of the Dances is the combination of music and bodies in motion. When several dozen people are moving together and singing in sync with the music of guitar and drum and violin and saxophone and accordion I can feel it way down deep in my bones. I am at one with the music, the people around me, and the Sacred Presence. In that moment the distinction between physical and spiritual dissolves.

We sing in English and we sing in Hebrew. We sing in Arabic and we sing in Sanskrit. We sing in Spanish and we sing in Aramaic. We sing in Latin and we sing in Mayan. Our songs are Christian and our songs are Buddhist. Our songs are Native American and our songs are Hindu. Our songs are Jewish and our songs are Islamic. Over and over again my faith horizons and my faith vocabulary are expanded. The Dances provide me with fresh new ways to experience and express my Christian Faith. One of the songs which Grace Marie shared with us came out of an integration of her Catholic upbringing and her experience of living with the Ute native people of the southwest. In her Catholic tradition there was a practice during worship of “passing the peace.” You would say to someone else, “Peace be with you.” Her Ute friends helped her expand the blessing both inward and outward.
Peace be with you.
Peace be with me, and all of my relations.
Hey ah hey ah hey ah hey.

For me this spiritual practice of singing and dancing together softens and opens my heart. And I watch it do the same for those around me. One day we were sharing a Dance which Aslan introduced us to, which is taken from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John.
Love one another, as I have loved you.
Care for each other. I have cared for you.
Bear each other’s burdens. Heal each other’s wounds.
And you shall know my return.
It is a powerful experience to sing this to each other while holding each other’s hands and looking deeply into each other’s eyes. On this particular occasion, however, we had the privilege of sharing in an added depth of experience. One of the people in our group was deeply moved by the song and began to weep. While the Dance continued and we sang those remarkable words, we also held the space for our friend to truly feel the feelings in a safe environment while being surrounded by love. The person and, I daresay, the group were transformed.

I do not have nearly enough time to adequately describe all that took place this past week – the laughter, the tears, the friendships, the sunrises witnessed while sitting on the lake in my kayak, silly games with the young adults who were present, the amazing choral experiences which occurred under the guidance of Aslan. And all of it blended together to create a deeply moving spiritual experience for which I am very grateful. Amen.


  1. When and where is the next dance event? I would be interested in attending.

    1. This is a good place to find out about Dance camps & retreats -