These were the past four days: an officer from the Pontville Detention Centre for asylum seekers arrived on Friday afternoon to check out Windgrove; two refugees followed on Saturday accompanied by five staff from the detention centre along with three of my friends who provided lunch; followed in the late afternoon and evening by seven Contact Improvisation dancers coming to Windgrove for a dance jam over the weekend; lastly, the arrival today of my webmaster who managed to get his 22 foot motorhome stuck in rain soaked sand where four of us worked harmoniously/patiently for two hours to free it but only succeeded in making it worse and in the end calling in a tow truck.
What can I say but that these past few days were a varied assortment of physical, emotional, philosophical, cultural, spiritual and ethical challenges in learning how to get along with other humans
Coupled with an abundance of good humour, heaps of delicious food, mounds of tender care and every heart wanting/yearning to make some sort of contact with other hearts, well, speaking for myself, despite cautious uncertainties of entering unfamiliar territory, I’m still smiling (even if I can’t dance).
I wasn’t allowed to photograph the asylum seekers (who even had to have a security officer follow them to the toilet) hence no photos, but I can tell you this: Even though there seemed to be the heavy hand of federal bureaucracy limiting personal freedom, the bottom line was that these young men were granted permission by the bureaucracy to come to Windgrove and experience the uplifting beauty of this land and my people; a land so distant from their birth homes and trauma; a culture so foreign. A trauma so deep that they risked everything to put themselves on leaky boats in an attempt to make it to faraway Australia; a land whose people — because of our relative comfort and safety — have no direct experience of the pain of war, rape and torture these refugees carry in their hearts to our shores.
It is our work to unloosen the bonds of fear wrapped tightly around their hearts. And, in so doing, unwrap our own.
Everyone involved, from the three security officers, the personal counselor, the religious liaison officer, my three friends Kate, Maculla and Vanden, to myself, all showed such a depth of compassion for the boys’ well being and future prospect of living in Australia that it was all so very touching and emotionally moving. The boys couldn’t have felt anything other than warmth exuding from all nine of us. Bless their tender, wounded souls.
Immediately after the ten people involved with the asylum seekers left, six dancers and two children started arriving.
From Wikipedia we read this about Contact Improvisation:
Upon entering a Contact Improv structure, two bodies must come together to create a point of contact (i.e., back to wrist, shoulder to thigh, head to foot, back to back, the options are endless), give weight equally to each other, and then create a movement dialog that can last for an undetermined amount of time, as long as both participants are fully engaged.
That’s a short technical aspect of Contact Improvisation. It’s real essence, though, is how one person moves in and out of another person’s personal space. “Respect”, “sensitivity”, “acceptance”, “allowing”, “trusting”, “testing”. These are words I might use.
I, myself, hadn’t expected to be anything other than an observer/photographer, but as things turned out I got my timid “inner dancer” — who was hiding behind old bones and ossified assumptions about what it might mean to dance in an aging body — out and down onto the floor along with everyone else. Hence, as with the refugees, no photos of the actual floor movements; just one of the warm up period.
A stanza from a Rilke poem provided the courage:
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
And so I gave myself to it. All my vulnerable aching self. Personally, a breakthrough experience.
Yet a tiny niggling question remains about the movement Steve Paxton started some 40 years ago in America. This concerns the “ethics of boundaries” that come from such sensual animal movements with partners entwined supine on the floor softly, at times, quietly stroking each other making “contact”. Seeing people — who had partners waiting for them back in Hobart — snuggling as one would with a lover, certainly pushed my sense of propriety and what it might mean for the sacred feminine and sacred masculine to hold and touch another.
I have no answer. We certainly need bigger hearts in this world. We are all seeking a place of refuge. No matter where we live.