Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.


Interplay: Campfire at the Heart -Day 4

What a morning.  I am again struck with my inability to form into words the wonder of this experience.  I am also aware again that these posts are actually my personal journal. So, into my world you have been invited.  Some of it may make sense,  Some of it may not.  I didn’t take photos in the morning today.

Today began with the element of  Air.  That was the element I chose yesterday.  We started the day with breathing in and doing various things (sigh, yell, hum, yum, quiet, roar, etc.) as we breathed out.  Betsey called it BIBO which she learned from Soyinka Rahim (a grassroots Spiritual advisor)

We had many movement and breathing experiences this morning.

Betsey invited each of us to find a contemplative body movement which leads us to a word or a phrase of prayer or affirmation.  It is unusual for me to engage in something like this and actually come up with a phrase.  But it worked.  Then we found a partner and shared our movement and phrase with them.  Our partner then repeated our movement and phrase.  Next we got in groups of 4 or 5 and did it again.  Finally we formed a circle and each of us taught our movement and phrase to the rest of the group.  It was a very powerful experience.  By the way, my phrase was/is “I am a lovable, energetic part of the interdependent web of life.”

One of the things we did after our tea break was to hear Susanna tell a story  about the process and steps she experienced in the past couple of years.  This will have very little meaning to those reading my journal/post, but to remind myself and am writing these words:

  • intuition
  • pomegranates
  • symbols
  • Saying, ‘”Yes”
  • Acceptance of a possible, “No”

I learned a new word (used in Susanna’s story).  It is “whinger” and it means a person who whines.  So a whiner is a “whinger.”  I love new Australian words and phrases.

In one of this morning’s  activities,  I found myself being very still.  This is not a usual place for me to be.  We shared our feelings in small groups of three.  Our triad played in the grass on our backs and put one hand into the air. We danced with our hands.  Sometimes my eyes were open and sometimes they were closed.   I loved looking at leaves of the trees waving above our hands.  When my eyes were closed, it was relaxing to just sometimes feel the others’ hands and sometimes just move in and out of them.

Betsey reintroduced a poem (she had sung it earlier in the week) called, “We Dance Wild” by Joel McKerrow.    Although I don’t personally relate to all of the “Christian” references in these words, I am sharing them to help me remember the experience.

We dance. We dance wild
Not a two-step, structured repetition. We dance large.
We dance flailing arms.
We dance the erratic and the wriggle,
the blunder, stumble and fall with no need to get back up again.
For our fumbles are our dance
and our dance is our rebellion and our declaration and our surrender.
Our falling to the floor is a knowing that it is only in the places
of dust and grime and footprint, only in the failed step and the rusty body, only in the falling
that we can ever truly meet the holy and the sacred.
We meet God on the floor.

So we choose to not rise too quickly,
to not keep ourselves together,
to not think we have this nailed,
this life, this God, this mystery, this question.
Our dancing is our stumbling and our stumbling is our dancing
and how disorderly we may seem,
and how undignified and messy,
we dive headfirst into not having the answers,
giving ourselves to a more spacious rhythm.
The song that is heard only in the silence,
only in the listening ear,
only in the unexplored landscape.
The whisper at the edges.

We find ourselves
when we lose ourselves.
The wilderness and the wild.
The Christ who gathers.
The Christ who descends.
The giving up of control.
The smallness of humility.
The largeness of the mystery.
The immensity of seeking the sacred in everything.
Never running from life
but plunging ourselves more wholly into her.
We dance and we feel our lumbered bodies begin to move.
We dance and we feel the heavy begin to take flight.
We dance to find liberation.

We dance to bring redemption,
the untwisting of the beautiful,
We dance to the new rhythm, the ancient rhythm, the holy rhythm,
the rhythm that holds it all together.
We dance to bring space.
We dance to hold hands.
We dance and we dance and we dance and we dance
until we are dizzy and falling.
We dance. We dance wild.

We are the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks.
—Joel McKerrow

Betsey handed out a few copies of the poem to us and asked each of us to rather quickly pick one line that spoke to us and create a movement for that line.  We were in groups of 5 to 7 people.  We each danced out our movements as we each spoke our line.  Everybody in the group repeated our movement and words. Then each of the 3 groups had a chance to show their combined dance with the other groups.    Here is one of the other groups.

This group is dancing

My line was, “We dance to find liberation.”

Continue reading


Interplay at Campfire at the Heart – 3rd day

Rose and I did a walk up towards the hills around the area this morning before breakfast.  Before our workshop began I took a few photos of the grounds for my memories.


The theme for the beginning of our activities today was fire.  We did movements that explored the elements (earth, water, fire, and air).  Then we were given the opportunity to choose the element that we felt the closest to today or that moved us in some way.  The wind was blowing in the trees. I realized that I was much more tired than I had thought.  The parrots were talking and flying from tree to tree.

The parrot is in the tree

I started to move around and the breeze continued to blow.  I don’t think that I really chose my element, but instead realized that I was being air and wind.   We chose partners and shared in dyads.  Then we danced some more.  In the large group we each shared our thoughts about which element we were at the moment.

Susanna had us form two concentric circles with the people who went to the Lament on the inside circle.  We faced each other, danced, and then grouped into dyads and triads making sure that there was at least one person from each group with us.  Each person had a chance to non-verbally share their experience from last night with movement.  Finally we formed one large circle and anybody who wanted to walked around the circle telling the story of their experience.  This was another example of the community building that Susanna and Betsy are so adept at accomplishing.

We then drove to a riverbed where there was a giant Red River Gum tree. Betsey and Susanna prepared for today’s ceremony while I stood in absolute awe of the tree.

They are preparing for a ceremony.

Our group began to gather around the tree.  The enormity of this incredible tree was overwhelming.

We are gathering near the tree.

We sat in a circle while Susanna and Betsy told stories.


We gathered in a our circle near the tree.My tiredness hit a wall. I think it was a very good time for sleep to overcome me because when I asked Rose to tell me about the stories later, she said they were mostly biblical stories.

I awoke in time for when Susanna was doing a communion ceremony.  I was reminded of the Camino and, of course, I participated.

Then we gathered close to the tree to bless the tree.  Betsey invited us to climb onto the tree. Yes, I wanted to do that.  I love this tree.

We are blasting the tree.

We then had some time to just spend with the tree.  It was not enough time.  Each part of this tree is so spectacular.  The branches were expanded over our heads.

The branches expanded over our heads.

Here are  a few close up photos of parts of the trunk and branches.

Red River Gum Tree Trunk.

Red River Gum Tree Trunk.

Red River Gum Tree bark.

When we were going back to the bus, I took a photo of another incredible Ghost Tree.

This is a Ghost Gum Tree.

It is so difficult to put into words the spirituality of this place.

After our free time we gathered again.  Betsy again awed us with her story telling.  Today’s story was about Hildegard.

This is a dance story of Hildegard.

The wind was blowing and the trees branches were dancing over our heads.

Tree branches were dancing in the wind.

I absolutely loved the afternoon session.  We were asked to be quiet for about 15 minutes (meditating); then move around by ourselves,;  be quiet again; move with a partner.  It was the most playful, childlike movement time I have had so far.

I am not remembering the exact words that Susanna used to describe what we were to do in the next activity but it was something like, “Get with a partner and find a way to lean into each other so that you are being supported and supporting.”  We did this with several different people.  Susanna asked us to try letting go of the support and finding it again over and over.  I loved this part.

Our dinner tonight was around the fire pit.  David made Damper in the fire pit.  We gathered in a circle around the fire for a sharing meeting.  It was close to sunset time so I shared with the group about Rosh Hashanah.  I wish Shanah tovah to all my friends and family.

Susanna asked us each to share “What is our passion?  What is it that lights our fire?”  It was a fabulous sharing messing.  I loved hearing from each person in the group.

Then a group of us went to a laser light show in town.  It was not what I expected.  Yes, lights were being shown on McDonnall mountainside.  But the interesting part was the light show of the Aboriginal artists work.  We were able to dance on a carpet of lights depicting several different artist’s work as a tape was being played of  them explaining the piece.

Light show of an artists work.

There were lit up displays explaining telling about the Aboriginal People and their art.

These are photos of art being displayed on material that was flowing like a petticoat.  This art work is more in the style of Albert Namatjira and at least one was done by his grandchild.


This was a very beautiful day.


Interplay, Campfire at the Heart, and the Lament

Campfire at the Heart is such a peaceful, beautiful place to be.  I have been enjoying walking among the Eucalyptus trees, listen to the birds, sitting in the grass, looking at the cacti, and just generally feeling good.

Rose, Sue, Kate, Sharie, and I went to visit the Alice Springs Desert Park.  It is a place where people spend the whole day but we only had a couple of hours.  The first thing we saw were a couple of Dingoes  I sure hope I get to see these in the wild sometime on this trip.

These are Dingos at the Desert Park.

Rose, Kate and Shaire went to the bird show which is similar to the one we have at the Oregon Zoo.   Sue and I went to the small  bird sanctuary where their was no screen between us and the birds.  We also visited other sanctuaries and the nocturnal house.

These are birds an.d lizards from Desert Park

Now for Interplay.  I didn’t know what a Monk’s and Mystic’s Interplay event would involve.  I asked Sharie (Rose’s friend from Seattle) and she tole me that it is, “an active and creative way to unlock the wisdom of your body using singing, storytelling, movement, and stillness.”  I had no idea that it would be so much fun.

We began yesterday with some breathing and movement.  Susanna Pain and Betsey Beckman are the leaders.  Since this blog is actually my journal, I am going to try to record some of what we have done to help me remember the activities.  It may not make sense to anybody reading it.

Betsey told a “Creation Story” that she had read.  It was from the perspective of a black man.  She also talked about Saint Frances.  We sang a song and used motions to go along with the song.  Here are the words.

“The world is my heart.  The world is my home.  The world is my monastery.”

Then we each individually found an item or place that spoke to us and spent some quiet, alone time.   After a while we met in dyads to share what we were feeling and thinking.

Then we had some time to ourselves. I met a woman, Farida, who lives in Alice Springs.  She was only able to attend the workshop for the 1st day because she is a doctor at the hospital and needed go to work.  She shared a poem with me.  Here it is.

Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does anything weird,
But the God who knows only 4 words.
And keeps repeating them, saying “Come dance with Me, come dance. “

Before dinner we were invited to go to the labyrinth.  What a fabulous experience.  We were all walking around the beautiful labyrinth at the same time.  It didn’t matter if you were passing somebody or not.  I felt so at ease as I was walking around.  One of the participants decided to do the whole walk with her eyes closed.  A couple of people did it barefoot.  This is the largest labyrinth I have ever experienced.  I loved passing a little yellow flower both going into the center and returning out.

The following photos were taken the next morning.  You can get an idea of the size because Pip was sitting in the middle praying when I took the photo,

Labyrinth at Campfire at the Heart.

The labyrinth at Campfire at the Heart.

Here is my little yellow flower.

A flower in the labyrinth.

After dinner we gathered in what they called the “Prayer Room” to share.  Susanna told us about an event that was going to happen in town the next night.  From what I understood, it was going to be a “Lament.”  This is the 50th anniversary of Pine Gap which is the American base in Australia.  The event would also be lamenting the Frontier Wars (the wars with the aboriginal people when Australia was settled).  There was quite a discussion with varying opinions being expressed about whether we wanted to attend.  What impressed me the most was the way that Susanna and Betsy honored each person in the group and made sure that everybody was personally give a chance to speak.  If I had any anxiety about what activities we were going to be invited to do during this workshop, this experience removed any of them.  I was fully ready to participate.

They begin each morning with a “Prayer Time” at 7:30.  So far I haven’t been interested in that part.  Since I stay up writing the blog at night, I just want to get up and shower in the morning.

Today the theme of our activities was, “Water” and we were first driven to a place called, “Clay Pans.”  Because there has been so much rain, there was water there.  Susanna was waiting for us to gather in a circle.

This place is called, Clay Pans.

We were invited to move (dance) around in the space.  I immediately took off my candles and headed to the water.  The muddy clay bottom squished between my toes.  I love it.  Other people joined me in the water.

As we moved around, we sang a song together as we moved around.  The words were, “May what I do flow from me like a river.”

Then we did some activities with partners. In one activity, the first person would get into a shape and the other person moved around them.  Then we would switched roles.  We did this with several partners and then as a whole group.  Of course, we had time to share feelings and thoughts after the activity so I will probably stop writing about the sharing time after this.

After several activities we had bush tea (or Billy tea) that David had prepared for us.  He made the tea in a Billy Pot over a fire he had built into the sand.  We brought banana bread as a snack and it was great with the tea.

We drank bush tea.

Terri walked back out into the water.

Terri in the water at Clay Pans

I found this activity exhilarating. Betsey asked us if a group of us would be willing dance in the water again while Sharie took photos. This is just another example of the respect the leaders have for the group.  She had told us last night that she wanted to do some filming and some people said it might make them feel self-conscience and interfere with the activities for them.  Some of the people who didn’t want to be filmed, sang music for us as we danced.  I loved participating again.

We are dancing in the water.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Palm Valley from Alice Springs

We took a tour to Palm Valley in a very large 4 wheel drive vehicle. It held 25 passengers.

Our first stop was at  the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct.  First we stopped for tea and scones.  We stopped for tea and scones

The driver encouraged us to also purchase apple strudel because they are known for having the recipe from one of the German missionaries.

The first Aboriginal Mission in the northern Territory, was established by the Lutheran Church in 1877 on the traditional lands of the Western Aranda people. The Mission was revitalized by Pastor Carl Strehlow from 1894 to 1922.  Below are some photos of the buildings that remain.

The Old Church at Hermannsburg Historic Precinct

School House at Hermannsburg Historic Precinct

On the chalkboard in the school-house was written:

Counting in Arranda:

nyinta = 1   tharra = 2  Tharra-ma-mynta = 3

All that is beyond 3 is called a mob

Mortuary and Correspondence School

Water tank and meat house

We learned about Albert Namatjira.  Because I think this is a significant story, I  am going to repeat it.

Albert was one of Australia’s great artists, and perhaps the best known Aboriginal painter. His western style  landscapes – different to traditional Aboriginal art, made him famous. Fame led to Albert and his wife becoming the first Aborigines to be granted Australian citizenship. It was a significant achievement, because at this time Aborigines had few.

Albert Namatjira was a celebrity, but not always a comfortable one. It was always a relief for him to leave the big smoke and return to his desert home. Success brought money – and Albert planned to use it to secure a future for his family. He wanted to lease a cattle station – but as an Aborigine he wasn’t allowed.

Next he tried to build a house in Alice Springs. Once again the law prevented him, just because he was Aboriginal.  It was a strange situation. Here was a man, heralded as a top artist, treated like a celebrity and yet not even allowed to own land.

Public outrage at Albert’s predicament pushed the government to grant him and his wife full citizenship in 1957. This meant they could vote, enter a hotel and build a house anywhere they chose. It took ten years for the government to grant similar rights to the rest of the Aboriginal population.

As a citizen Albert Namatjira could now also buy alcohol. In keeping with Aboriginal custom, Albert’s friends expected him to share any alcohol he bought. But in doing this he broke white man’s laws. In 1958, police charged Albert with supplying alcohol to Aboriginal people. He denied the charge, but the court didn’t believe him. After two months in prison, Albert emerged a free, but broken man. He had lost his will to paint, and to live. Albert Namatjira died in 1959. He was just fifty-seven years old.

Albert Namatjira’s life and work have inspired other Aboriginal people to paint. Among them have been his children and grand-children  This great painter captured Australia’s heart in artwork and was praised around the world. His life showed white Australians the injustice of racist laws, and contributed to long overdue changes for his people.

The Aboriginal People were not give the right to vote until 1962.

Here is one of his painting taken from the web.

Albert Namatjira was a great painter.

We drove onto the riverbed of the Fink River which is dry.  The road was very bumpy.  The driver told us about buffelgrass was introduced in the 50s as cattle feed and to control dust.  It burns at 300 C. which is too hot to burn all of the seeds.buffelgrass is also significantly more flammable in creek beds than the soft native grasses. This can fuel very hot fires which damage River Red Gums and other trees. Prior to the introduction of buffelgrass, sandy creek beds acted as firebreaks but now the opposite is occurring. Buffel-infested watercourses provide channels for spreading fires rather than stopping them.  It has now been declared a weed in Southern Australia.

This is Buffel Grass

After a while we stopped for lunch.  We took a walk around the area and took some photos.  Then we continued up the river bed which was now extremely bumpy.  The driver did a great job of going slowly over the bumps in the road, but the vehicle still bounced and bounced and bounced.

Here are some photos of the road.

The road up the Fink Riverbedroad-shots-2  At the end  of the road, 6 of us took a 2 km hike.

Usually this area is very dry.  But lately there has been an unusual amount of rain.  Because of the rain we were able to see many more flowers than usual.  During this trip, I met Mary and she knew the names of so many of the flowers.  I tried to take notes as we walked, but I dunno (that is another new Australian phrase that I have learned) if I have the names of the flowers correct, but here goes my best attempt.  Some of them I just can’t remember so there are no names.

This is a flower collage.

Continue reading