One month after I was home in Arkansas… from my home in India… I returned to my home in New York. And the month and a half I spent with my Brooklyn Heart’s Home family comforted my heart with the truth that I will forever have a home within Heart’s Home. A home whose door they assure me is always open… with a welcome that calms the storm within a transition full of tender mourning for the life I had discovered in mission and now the realm of possibilities for the endless “what’s next?” questions. It’s about going from an awareness of standing at the edge of my life, the finality of my life, in a context that always led me into the mystery and meaning… back, but really a forward back, into the familiar unknown reality of home. Proving to be almost even more challenging than when I arrived in India… because now my eyes have changed and the criteria by which I want to live has been transformed.
How easy it is to return to a complacency that kills the mystery, or fogs my eyes from regarding His presence among us here, in a place that I’ve seen before; a place that does not have the firefly twinkling trees or the ropes of scented jasmine buds… the flocking to me of bright eyed children in the street or the contemplative grandmother awaiting my passing by. The mission is filled with many special graces that enlarges the eye of the soul, and this enlarging I believe is allowed then, to serve me now. My time in Heart’s Home Brooklyn was a gift to continue the teaching of my heart, so that I may see the clusters of light in the dark and the cry within the smiles of my people, my family, and my friends. Discovering little by little how to continue living the mission of compassion immersed within the culture of dance and design. Discoveries that occurred in the simple acts of meeting friends for coffee, visiting the nursing home, taking dance classes, sewing clothes, praying with the community, welcoming visitors, and sharing about my mission. And the biggest discovery: unity within all of who I am does not arrive out of my willing it nor out of my own efforts— it is given. But I must be awake to receive the gift.
I arrived in Brooklyn at the beginning of May, right in the midst of the organizing and putting on of the annual Heart’s Home fundraising gala. Preparing table décor, proof-reading speeches, making my dress… loading the van, setting the tables, folding the napkins… turning the National Bohemian Hall on the Upper East Side of Manhattan into a space with demonstrates our efforts to create a home for everyone’s heart. It was a very special moment for me to witness the expansion and growth of Heart’s Home USA; I was full of immense gratitude to be a part of such a great thing. I, along with many present, realized further or even for the first time how much I need the friendship of Heart’s Home in my life. Hearing the words of the artist Sean Scully say in receiving the Compassion Award that “We do the same thing”… both striving to re-humanize a culture that devalues the dignity of human life. Re-humanizing through his eye of simplicity and beauty and purity of line; through the way he lives his life. I want my art to live out of this same gaze of compassion.
That gaze begins with an inner gesture that sparks a friendship, and that night I shared with everyone the story of Sofia, our friend from the Garden of Mercy who died of AIDS last August. It was a powerful moment to experience the love lived within the mission extending beyond that time and space to be present now. My only desire was to share the essence of Sofia and the gift she offered the world through her life. And in that moment she was at my side again, entreating us all to wake up to the beauty of life and the power of presence. I was deeply touched by the response of those listening… speaking to me afterwards from a deep place in their hearts as they could only say “Thank you. Thank you for sharing Sofia.” And my heart could only whisper through glistening tears of hope “Thank you Sofia.”
My first encounter with Heart’s Home was in Brooklyn two February’s ago when I arrived at their door on a dark night after a dance rehearsal, having no idea it would bring me to where I am now. They welcomed me simply right into their life of prayer, and community, and visits to the neighboring nursing homes and housing projects... and into their teachings that resonated deeply with what I was looking for in my life. It was in the smile of the friends they serve and in the witness of the volunteer’s happiness that I knew my “yes” was already made. To return almost two years later, meeting again a city I had once wanted to run away from, and to see it with new eyes and new love… meeting again the friends and neighbors, finding myself within the story of their lives. It was overwhelmingly simple and filled with a renewal of gratitude. The arrival of new friends and the birth of babies… the moving forward of careers and the starting of new ventures all proved my absence yet marked my return with joy. I found myself in many beautiful conversations with dancer/artist friends that told of our parallel journeys connected in a mystical search for the same truth. Dialogues of life and presence and community that left each one of us walking away refreshed and enlivened… with certitude that we are not alone.
Being a part of the bustling life in Brooklyn eased my transition by giving me rhythm and purpose… and plenty of listening ears to follow and direct my heart. These days, like many lived in a Heart’s Home, were filled with many stories and encounters and activities to draw me out of myself into another. How encouraging it has been to meet with so many different people that in one way or another were following my time in India… that have been anticipating my return in order to hear from me first hand how this experience has changed my life, with an availability for theirs to be changed as well. Encounters that have been keeping me forever in awe of the magnifying effects of saying “Yes” to be a witness of Christ’s love.
And that’s all I know. If you ask me where I live I’ll tell you the address of where I am currently standing! Right now it’s St. Louis, Missouri, next week Van Buren, Arkansas… several weeks after that Vienna, Austria. Traveling to meet my loves… family, friends, and dance. Although I can’t tell you exactly what’s next, I trust that I will simply end up right where I am supposed to be.