Laban Movement Analysis: (LMA). One of our members, Andy Wassenich, tuned me into LMA and I used it to give thought and theory to our communion experience each week. Before we came to the communion table, we had a walking meditation. People walked mindfully around the sanctuary with three reflection questions that were shared during the walk. We walked because Jesus' primary mode of movement throughout the Lenten stories was walking. He walked himself from the wilderness to Jerusalem. We did the same.
LMA is a theoretical and experiential system for the observation, description, prescription, performance, and interpretation of human movement.
"At the heart of LMA is a recognition that movement is a psycho-physical process, an outward expression of inner intent" (Ed Groff). LMA has four major themes: body, effort, shape, space. It works to bridge polarities in movement: bound/unbound, group/individual, simple/complex, exertion/recuperation, mobility/stability. I'm a LMA expert nobody and what I took away from it, and how it relates to communion, is how we can build awareness with our bodies and how we are present in our bodies in a space.
What shape does our body take in the sanctuary while walking? Growing. Shrinking. Hallowing. Are we controlled and contained? Fragile? Vulnerable? Relaxed and at ease? Tense?
Our body takes shape in space.
There is also the inner space of breathing. That's an inner shaping. Our bodies expand and contract while breathing.
One writer of LMA says:
People who develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality but as a reality in the process of transformation.
How we experience our bodies impacts how we perceive ourselves and our sacred power. The external shape (and internal breathing) can be a mirror to our inner happenings--do we feel powerful and proud, ready to create transformation? Or do I feel like shit about myself and I walk around with my body posture and movement reflecting that shitty reality?
Movement has meaning. We walked, like Jesus, to embody our reality---that we are not static but in the process of transformation. Always.
Communion: Continued vision for Pilgrims communion---dismantle the "normativity of the proper." ( I got this phrase from my friend, Claudio Carvalhaes). That means this: the Church has wedged it's tighty-whities up so tight with communion that it's created a sacrament based on anxiety-ridden ordering of space, patriarchal/colonizing doctrines, and clergy-ego-power driven liturgical practices.
Time to blow that shit up.
Coming back to the use of improv---we improved communion. We were gathered around the rickety table, standing in mountain pose and symbolizing our readiness to share. We offered up a time of prayers---people calling out the vulnerability of broken bodies and the broken planet. Then Jeff or a church member started to chant the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving. Basically what elements of creation, prophets, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit do we need to give thanks for? People called them out. We sang a lovely Sanctus. People didn't have bulletins so heads were looking ahead, not down. We improved the words of institution--people called out the story after a prompt by whoever was at the table. One Sunday neither Jeff or I was at the table.
We moved the sacrament into the margins of society and unexpected places. Clean water. ACA workers. A dying cousin. My nephew with leukemia.The sacrament was taken to those unexpected places and peoples through the improv.
Here the intrinsic relationship between the planet and the sacrament could be felt--and it wasn't constructed by me or Jeff. People were moved by nudge of the Holy. The dualism of planet and sacrament was broken down.
The experience of communion moved away from the right and proper words and gestures (and people/power) to "authenticate" communion and into the realm of the Holy Spirit.
Each week we were at a beautiful, crappy looking table surrounded by people trying to connect with each other, their hopes and dreams, trauma and heartache with each other. We gathered as a body seeking Gospel stories of Jesus to shape and move us, nudging/pushing/challenging us to notice God. We weren't bound to the imperialism of the Church that claims "if you don't do communion this way it won't be right." We weren't bound to time and space and things. Through words, prayers, song, movement, bread, anointing, and our bodies we found the sacrament waiting for us, letting us in, and cracking us open for what is to come.