[17 March 2009 - Book Review by Connie Tyler (via Facebook)] Chasing the Dance of Life, by Cynthia Winton-Henry -- A review by Connie Tyler
Want to laugh and cry, and say, "Oh, my?"
And then, "Oh, yes, oh, yes?"
Read Cynthia Winton-Henry's new book, Chasing the Dance of Life – a faith journey.
Cynthia, co-founder of InterPlay, speaks with candor and honesty about her struggle to find a place in the world for her dancing spirituality. She says of herself, "What do you do if you hear voices or see things? ... You should shut up. However, if there are voices that prod you to quench the thirst for big human needs like Love, Justice, and Freedom, you might become a blabbermouth performance artist like me." (p. 9) Like a ballerina doing tour jette's in a china shop, Cynthia plunges into confrontation with church officials and august parishioners, while we stand with our mouths open in admiration and fear.
She starts with her struggles as a child, teenager, and college student to pull her love of dance and her spiritual inclinations together. Her joy at finding Carla DeSola, Doug Adams, Pacific School of Religion, Judith Rock, and the Sacred Dance Guild is tempered by the struggle as an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to carry dance into the church. When, eventually, she finds she needs to renounce her ordination she doesn't just slip away from the church, she demands the right to have a ceremony of de-ordination to counter the ordination ceremony.
She wrote this memoir specifically to show why she eventually renounced her ordination, but her struggles go beyond just the struggle with this particular denomination or even with "the church" in its larger sense. She is struggling with the way of life she grew up with, finding new ways to approach people who are different, new ways to live in a material world, new ways to see our world, our life.
When subtle acts of humming birds and eagles speak to her, she dares to see them as prophecy. She analyzes marriage and comes up with new metaphors that better fit reality than the older ones that don't seem to work. She jumps dancing feet first into life and discovers, "For young or old, the universe loves a dancer." (p. 216)
And the message? She says:
Stubborn standers, beware.
Planted on twin pillars
Your footing stiffens
In that precarious pose.
Resist -- you stand against.
Consist -- you stand with.
Persist -- you stand through.
Insist -- you stand in.
All stands degrade.
Release your footing.
Dance life's stubborn dance
(Winton-Henry, Cynthia, Chasing the Dance of Life – a faith journey, Berkeley, CA, the apocryphile press, 2009, 255 pp)