2022 the year we learn to listen to love
Week 4--in which we discover the radical paradox in Free Your Voice hiding in plain sight
Friends, soul writers, mystics, and lovers of prayer,
The first prayer intensive for 2022—the year we learn to listen to love—is about to open. You might well assume that because I’m the one offering this intensive that I know what it’s all about.
You would be wrong. So wrong. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing.
I learned what it’s really all about in the predawn dark Friday morning. I sensed something wanting to be written and reached for the yellow pad that is always beside me in bed. Eyes closed, I scribbled two pages of dictation on the radical transformation waiting for us in Free Your Voice.
I was surprised at the beauty, simplicity, and clarity of the language. But I also had to laugh at myself.
How had I missed the profound mystical paradox at the heart of this profound alchemical intensive?
After all the paradox wasn’t hiding from me. It is right there in the title, hiding in plain sight.
We have always experienced transformation in my prayer intensives from the first in 2018 with Kahu Lahela on the ancient Hawaiian shamanic prayer practice of forgiveness.
After that one, I began to slowly feel my way into the radical difference between a course and a prayer intensive. I knew how to teach a course. I had taught courses on soul writing, soul vows, and soul purpose for ten years. I had complete confidence in my ability to guide people to discover their own divine voice, soul vows, and sacred purpose.
But when prayer artist landed in my body, it was clear I was to stop teaching my courses and start offering prayer intensives. Only problem was I didn’t know what a prayer intensive was. And no one else did either.
The prayer intensives themselves taught me how to bring a community into a whole new way to experience and embody radical non-patriarchal prayer practices.
Whatever prayer intensives are, it’s clear they work. Over 2,000 of you have joined me in prayer intensives exploring the mystical wonders of the goddess rosary, tree of life, labyrinth, forgiveness, and many more. Each one a bit different. Each one a step on the path to an “intensive” so big it morphed into a pilgrimage that eclipsed time and geography, The Return of the Witches, last summer.
Several things happened during that pilgrimage that are now coming to life in Free Your Voice.
Two weeks ago, you read Aubrey’s story about realizing how her body carries the epigenetic memory of being strangled. In addition, during the pilgrimage, I received the rather startling news that what makes these intensives so powerful is that they happen in the Theatre of the Miraculous.
My job as the producer and director is to invite you into that Theatre, where miracles happen, not because of anything I or my co-teachers say or do, but because you, the members of the intensive, become personal and collective containers for the Beloved, the Mystery, by any and all Her names.
It is She who invites us into our own alchemical transformation.
I always open our gatherings by stating this mystery in words that were given to me in one of the first prayers I received in 2018. Words that hold the paradox of all my prayers and all my prayer intensives. Words that really define what a prayer intensive is.
You are not praying; you are being prayed.
No one, including me, can say they understand this paradox. That’s what makes it a paradox. But even as I relinquish the need to comprehend it, I know this is true. This is the truth about prayer and the truth about the magical presence of the Beloved in all our intensives.
I love this paradox. It is perhaps the greatest gift given to me as a prayer artist. One I’ll be exploring and integrating for the rest of my life.
Even so, I had not connected the dots fully between this paradox and Free Your Voice.
So She awakened me in the wee hours Friday and dictated the depth of this radical paradox in Free Your Voice. Cameron Altaras and I had planned the content of our four weeks back in December. We are going to explore freeing our physical voices with voice teacher Sharla Nafziger, then gather to free our truth voices, our ancestral voices, and finally our creative voices.
So the paradox was right there smack in front of me. But I didn’t see it. Here is what I received in the night:
- You are not freeing your physical voice;
your physical voice is freeing you
- You are not freeing your truth voice;
your truth voice is freeing you
- You are not freeing your ancestral voice;
your ancestral voice is freeing you
- You are not freeing your creative voice;
your creative voice is freeing you
I know this isn't logical or linear.
You’ve never been taught this because no patriarchal religion or structure is capable of even considering this deep twist, this sacred drop into the way life really works.
But my co-teachers totally get this. They’ve lived it.
Consider Sharla Nafziger, who will help us free our physical voices on Tuesday in our first gathering.
Sharla grew up in a conservative Mennonite community where women were expected to be silent, obedient, subservient. Women were not to go to college, or draw attention to themselves, or even have their photograph taken.
- So how in the world did Sharla become a classical singer on international stages?
- How did she become a renowned vocal coach?
- How did she become a voice teacher at a famous NY college for the arts?
- How did she become the go-to voice teacher for people who’ve lost their ability to sing?
And, of the greatest importance, how did she heal her own voice after it was severely damaged?
- And what did she discover in the course of that healing about the direct connection between unprocessed and unexpressed emotions and constrictions in the vocal cords?
- And what simple and fun exercises can literally free your voice?
I asked Sharla if she’d like to speak directly to you. She sent a lovely document that will be a bonus for the intensive, but here’s a taste.
As children, our imaginations and inhibitions allow us tremendous freedom in expression. We sing and dance and paint, and our hearts are full, until someone points out that we’re out of tune, have two left feet, and the lines are blurry. We have learned awareness of our limits. Society teaches us to speak in turn, to behave appropriately, maintain the status quo, and one day we wake up and are not sure who we really are anymore. The freedom to speak our truth is measured by the effect it has on others, and our voices retreat inwards.
Each of us has our own unique, authentic voice. Finding that voice, and freeing it from unwanted or misplaced tension is a process that has potential to release buried emotion. The process of release can be liberating, and frightening at the same time. This process brings me tremendous joy and reward every day in my voice studio, and reminds me that there is always so much more to learn, and to uncover.
I know there’s no prayer intensive out there with a guest appearance by a classical singer and voice coach.
But that’s how things unfold in the Theatre of the Miraculous!
I do hope you'll join Sharla, Cameron and me and free your own most precious and holy voice.
Follow this link to learn more and register:
to the mysterious and holy paradox: you are not freeing your voice; your voice is freeing you!
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