Kostantis Kourmadias (violin) and Antonis Mylonas (guitar) from the workshop I was attending playing for the restaurant owners that coordinated the village response to the refugee arrivals.

Kostantis Kourmadias (violin) and Antonis Mylonas (guitar) from the workshop I was attending playing for the restaurant owners that coordinated the village response to the refugee arrivals.

Things haven’t been going as expected. All sorts of stuff, big and small, is going down. Most notably, earlier this month while I was in Greece my mother-in-law died and I needed to cut my trip short to return for her funeral.

Sometimes it feels like someone stopped the music. My whole being heaves as I change gears and adjust to the loss.

It is interesting timing, since I was in Greece specifically to study dance and cultural traditions for navigating the cycles of life. Easter rituals are a profound way the whole community integrates the story of descent and ascent.

It was particularly interesting to be in the village of Molyvos on the island of Lesvos. Last year this village of 1,000 people helped 200,000 (mostly Syrian) refugees washing up on their shores travel to safety. They witnessed a lot of tragedy and extended generous hospitality. A recent political agreement has significantly slowed the arrival of refugees and I didn’t see any refugees myself.

The media coverage of Lesvos as an island swamped by refugees has driven away nearly all the tourists. Restaurants are nearly empty and many are without work. Forty of the families in this tiny village are without electricity.

On my final night I listened to a famous singer from the island, Yiota Michaleli, at a special evening of live music sponsored by the workshop. This prominent singer hadn’t been able to work all winter because no one is hiring musicians. In a literal sense the music has stopped.

My trip was a special opportunity to study with my mentor teacher Laura Shannon. She taught not only through the dances but through her deep understanding of mythology, connection to the land and rich relationships with people in the village.

My trip was a special opportunity to study with my mentor teacher Laura Shannon. She taught not only through the dances but through her deep understanding of mythology, connection to the land and rich relationships with people in the village.

That night she had such powerful joy in singing. She was the music. She was just waiting for someone to listen.

I’m trying on the idea that the music of life doesn’t stop, we just need to listen.

Maybe the music of my life is just in one of those improvisational interludes. I’ve only lost the melody.

A song doesn’t fall apart during an improvisation because someone is always holding the beat. I am at my best when I feel connected to the constant pulse of life that is within and through constant change.

I need to literally connect to this rhythm of life, whether through breath, singing, chanting or dancing. Otherwise it’s all a beautiful abstraction. I’ve spent years thinking that what my heart is longing for is so big, how could something as simple as music and dance meet this hunger. But really it’s the most powerful medicine I know.

The improvisational part of music is usually my favorite because its excitement and passion. I need this sense of potency for this time of wild change. May we each be anchored by a strong connection to the heartbeat of life so we can not only move gracefully, but even create something beautiful as we improvise through life.

With love,

Emily

 

Practice finding your voice and your place in life through a summer of singing at sacred sites around the Twin Cities.

Tune into the rhythm of life through the Healing Waters Qigong Practice Group or the community sacred healing art of ritual dance – both groups meet outside for the summer.

Need an extra boost? I offer individual healing sessions.

Many thanks to the Next Step Fund and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council for funding my study in Greece.

Lesvos is a wonderful place to visit! It is even more wonderful to experience a dance and culture tour led by Laura Shannon – there may be another seminar over Greek Easter next spring.

Workshop photos by Monica Klinger.

 

 

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