Why I danced when someone awesome died

208373_10152662748660107_723163359_nI heard a scream. It didn’t sound like fear, it sounded like anger. I turned and I saw a woman pounding the floor, shouting in pain. In front of her, people swirled in a wild dance. To her right a couple in love was grinding their bodies on each other. To her left, a mother laughed, clutching her 2 year old to her bare breast. And in the back plates of chocolate sat between flowers and pictures of Brian.

Pain and laughter, dance and rage, grief and ecstasy took turns and blended into spiraling intensity. I was at a memorial service for Brian Baker, an avid dancer, passionate lover, and exuberant chocolatier with whom I just barely started building a friendship. I abhor memorial services and I didn’t know Brian well and yet I felt an irresistible urge to be at his memorial. Many members of the dance and poly community say that although they didn’t know Brian well, they feel the impact of his death strongly.

I concur and for the first time in my life I voluntarily went to a memorial. And I danced. Along with a couple hundred other people I danced because Brian’s life was a dance. When I was younger I would often say that I wanted everyone to dance at my funeral and people thought I was crazy. But here we were, dancing and laughing and hugging as well as sobbing and screaming.

We danced because Brian would have wanted us to.
We danced because our bodies wanted to move in the midst of grief.
We danced because anger at Brian’s untimely death stirred our blood.
We danced because Brian’s life was the dance.
We danced because we celebrate the life of someone awesome.
And we danced because we are so very alive.

The response of the community to this death has moved me deeply. Brian was a YES to life and to freely cry our grief and scream our pain and dance our joy and live our life is to continue in the spirit of Brian.  On the dance floor all of life was present, the shadow and the light, and a community of brave souls dared to embraced life in its totality, including its excruciating finality.

I will miss getting to see that beaming face. And I want to honor Brian even though he has passed over. I commit myself to take inspiration from his life and say YES, to expose myself to all of life’s beauty and ugliness and embrace its intensity.

In the words of Kahlil Gibran:
“If in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, back into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears… But if you would know the secrets of your days and nights, then come with us. If you would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams, then come with us. For when you walk facing the sun, what image on earth can hold you then?”


About Annika Mongan

As a born-again Christian minister I set out to convert Pagans. But through years of traveling and studying I became alienated from fundamentalism and found a new home in Witchcraft. Today I celebrate being born again and again, a lifelong cycle of transformation. A few years ago I founded an intentional Pagan community in California and am now in the process of networking and building an eco village. I love getting out into nature. During rainy seasons I am an avid mushroom hunter, in the summer I enjoy hiking, swimming, camping, and playing music around campfires. When I am not busy doing interfaith work or volunteering for too many events, I spend a lot of time studying and writing about religion. My writing can be found at Cross and Pentacle on www.pagansquare.com and I write as the Born Again Witch on the Pagan channel at www.Patheos.com.
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