Last night Kitty and I, were inspired by a young woman about Jesus' age who is performing in "Leaps and Bounds" across the country. She is a dancer, singer and poet offering her heart, body, soul and whole faith on the line in the story of creation and what is needed to save it. The following is our letter to her after being with her in conversation and in the audience.
Dear Tevyn East,
So what is important when everything is trite? Why you and the dance and chocolate cookies Monday night at the Longview Presbyterian Church? Your beautiful dance showing us the need to take care of each other and our earth that God made beautiful for us is important and beautiful. Thanks.
Remembering the conversation we had in Seattle at Maryknoll House with Mary, Pat and the two of us I'm not sure you really are convinced of the importance of my world's record. I really do have world's record in dancing the hokey pokey with 300 AIDS orphans during the celebration of the Day of the African Child 2006. Of course, there were others in the dance besides me, so I can't take any exclusive credit. Not that I don't wish I could, but that would trivialize the hokey pokey.
Your Affording Hope Project which you bring with your whole self to small communities all over the US has a lot in common with the hokey pokey. I'll try to explain.
The world and its institutions are in a slump just like batters in baseball. The batters with histories of greatness can't hit a fastball bigger than a soccer ball right down the middle of the plate. They will try anything to get out of the slump; shift their feet, change their stance, hold the bat differently, change their underwear, go to a quiet place and pray and still fail to get out of the slump. Just like the batters who go into themselves for their individual solutions to the slump our institutions try to find solutions in their isolated domination and greed. They both fail and the answer to rid themselves of their isolated slump is obvious. (Roger leans toward baseball metaphors a lot. Kitty)
Indeed, take the poets by the hand, listen to their song. Take the dancers by the hand and dance, paint with the painter. Take the hand of the man with the gold dress and cone hat. Take the hand of those with ragged clothes, take a hand and begin a circle one by one around and around God's creation, this beautiful place where we were all made beautiful and loved. And when you have all the hands together in the infinite circle; stop and put your right hand in and put your right hand out; put your right hand in and shake it all about; do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around; that's what its all about.
And that's how a batter gets out of a slump. "There's no crying in baseball" Even the Maryknoll Sister from Brooklyn has to forgive the "Bums" that moved the Dodgers out of Brooklyn. And even the kids who share the world's record doing the hokey pokey change when all of us together place our big, fat hips in and shake them all about. Tevyn East you put your whole self into your dance sharing with us God's love and God's task for each of us to make this earth a better place.
Tevyn is supported by the gifts at one performance to get her to the next performance. You can find her story at her website affordinghopeproject.org.
Another website about peace through the arts is searchforpeace.org.
With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at this moment it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote the Hokey Pokey died peacefully at the age of 93.
The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin, they put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.
Roger and Kitty