Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Oriah Mountain Dreamer's "The Invitation"was very popular on a lot of inspirational web sites and was passed around on a lot of emails. I don't remember how I came across it, but when I did, it made me curious about her when I saw this book advertized, I wanted to read it.

The best way to give you a taste of what her writing is like is to repeat "The Invitation" here:

"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living

I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love

for your dreams

for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon...

I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow

if you have been opened by life's betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your

fingers and toes

without cautioning us to

be careful

be realistic

to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless

and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand on the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,


It doesn't interest me

to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after a night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the center of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom

you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone

with yourself

and if you truly like the company you keep

in the empty moments."

I guess what I like most about her writing is that she tries to challenge you to live with passion, energy, and honesty. She believes that sometimes happiness gets buried beneath the clutter of our harried lives. She tells some stories from her own experience and encourages us to slow down and return to the sacred emptiness, where we encounter our true self.

Though some of her writing at times seems to border on New Age spirituality, she herself has been an outspoken critic. She says she doesn't like sloppy thinking, a refusal to ask questions, or an easy acceptance of things we cannot know to be true because we find them comforting or far more entertaining than our everyday lives, and she sees too much of all of this in some New Age philosophies and groups and thinks it is dangerous. And yet she does write under the name Oriah Mountain Dreamer (which she took when she was studying and participating in shamanic ceremonies, it means "one who likes to push the edge) and gets some of her wisdom from a group of elders that appear to her in her dreams that she calls "the grandmothers" she is obviously a woman of great contradictions.

Her writing seems to me to be an interesting mix of spirituality, inspiration, love of poetry and nature, sprinkled with self deprecating humor as well as an acceptance of life's absurdities. I am usually turned off by New Age type stuff and yet I find myself charmed by her openness and disarming way of baring her own hurts and blunders in her stories. She doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but instead tries to show us how to live the questions. That I like.

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