Sacred Time, Sacred Space, and Football

Recently, I’ve been researching what makes folks happy in the midst of life’s challenges.  Because my husband, Lynn, is in his eighties and still working as a maker of beautiful objects, he became my perfect case study.  His creative work makes him happy, but some days are tough because he must invent new ways of accomplishing what seems to be the impossible.  During football season, he finds a restorative source of happiness sitting on the sofa watching the skill, teamwork, and fan frenzy that is American football. This past season was no exception, and because of his interest in the games and final 2023 Super Bowl contest, I had an in-depth experience of the value of this sport to a person who never played the game but still appreciates its artfulness.

Coming from an all female household in which games of all kinds were associated with vacations, I have been fascinated by my husband’s interest in and affection for this physically demanding sport. A visual artist and spatial genius, magnificent forms appear, seemingly effortlessly, when he works.  He cooks, too, artfully and inventively, and makes clothes and hats, rattles and drums and labyrinths, all without patterns.  When he built a non-linear house for folks with whom we’ve become lifelong friends, he did so through creative problem solving in the moment of hearing what this family wanted.  He creates and teaches dances, as well, and for more than twenty years we’ve had the deep and wide pleasure of teaching dance together.  If all of these interests create a picture of a man more like a jazz musician than a football player, then I’ve described him well.

Even though I do my best to avoid stereotyping people, I confess I’d be surprised to discover Travis Kelce taking ballet lessons, or teaching them.  It’s not that big men can’t dance; his magnificent choreography with Patrick Mahomes this season enthralled football’s millions of fans, regardless of first loyalties.  Of course big men can dance.  It’s just that watching Patrick and Travis during the season and the 2023 Super Bowl made clear that both men use their strength and grace for creating stunning football plays.  Surprise is what I used to feel when I witnessed my artistic husband’s interest in watching what at first appeared to me to be more like gladiatorial combat than the artful beauty of a game well played.

What I came to understand over the course of our two decades together is that the solitary artist in Lynn – whose name means deep waters – craves the community that football provides its spectators and its players.  Research on team sports, on military units, on firefighters, and on ensemble artistic troupes explores the sense of belonging and comfort such memberships provide.  The recent box office success of The Woman King, a story about finding strength and meaning through inclusion in a group, suggests how collectively hungry we are for examples of connection, support, and the vision that makes justice and freedom possible. Whatever our race or gender identifications, Viola Davis in her role as Nanisca inspires the courage and dedication we need to build humane and loving communities of support in spite of the larger unjust and predatory cultures we all share.

As a solitary artist, both by choice and by sensibility, Lynn spends his work days alone, in silence, cultivating his creative responses to the various tasks that come to hand.  His Sunday adventures experiencing football through the magic of mirror neurons provide the deep peace that comes with sitting in a crowd focused on One Thing. Such focused attention is a source of peace in and of itself, because it calms the nervous system and engages both hemispheres of the brain. Perhaps because focusing on football plays provides a sense of common humanity, of human endurance and skill, and of life threatening dangers even during the best of times, just as The Woman King does, watching a game becomes a holistic, even holy, experience for many fans.

When Lynn and I facilitate dances together, we are aware of the sacred space we create with dance’s wordless prayers.  This sacred space is experienced as a timeless moment that leaves participants feeling connected to the joys of community and deep, somatic peace. Whether people gather to watch a film together, quilt together, dance together, or play football together, we are relieving the isolation that can descend whether we live and work alone or not. This relief is no small thing, since feelings of isolation when ignored or denied lead to the despair that triggers violence against self and others.

I am very grateful for the perspective shifts I’ve experienced because Lynn watches football.  I’ve come to admire the relationships of coaches to teams, of players to players, of games to fields and fans.  Of course I understand that the game has been taken over by corporations and that corporate commercialism is fueling the over consumption that leads social inequities and environmental degradation.  Still, most of the human beings enjoying the sport remain appreciative of the game’s required individual and team endurance, strategy, grace, and skill.  Players often express their gratitude to the community of enthusiasts who brave the rain and the snow and the heat, to say nothing of the deafening bellows of joy and agony, to watch a favoured team work its magic.

During this 2023 season, after catching snippets or entire games, I deepened my appreciation of football.  As I reflected on the outpouring of grief and hope inspired by Damar Hamlin’s shocking collapse on the field, I began to see the game in a new light. For many players, coaches, and their fans, football has become a deeply important, even blissful ritual.  For these committed participants, the game becomes a doorway into sacred time and sacred space, that ephemeral place of deep joy and reverence, infinitely more precious because the moments, the games, and the seasons do not last.

I’m thankful to have witnessed football’s ability to inspire feelings of connection and joy, those bliss-filled experiences Abraham Maslow described as “Peak.” Feeling connected to self and others despite life’s inevitable tragedies provides hope and healing for body and spirit.  In the end, it isn’t so much the winning or losing.  It’s about being present, with others, and feeling the connection Presence inspires.

Until next time


Winter Solstice 2021 / Celebrating the Return of the Light

When people have been seriously traumatized – I count myself a long-time member of this vast group – we often discover an inner Guidance System that leads us to comfort and beauty, harmony and safety, against all odds.  This Guidance System operates in our every day lives and manifests as simply as, “I feel great here.”  When we decode “feeling great,” we discover we have gravitated to experiences that accept us as we are.  This sense of acceptance is demonstrated by our physical-emotional-intellectual-spiritual ability to respond to what is, to be present, to immerse ourselves in the flow of life.

From a very early age, I felt this profound acceptance out of doors, in our garden, at our neighbourhood park, and on the beach at Point Pelee.  The sense of acceptance I experienced when ice skating, swimming, wandering in silence, and staring up at the sky from my bed of autumn leaves, summer grasses, or snow taught me that no matter what misadventures might be happening among the adults who were charged with my care, I could step out into what I have come to call The Eternal Mother, my Earth Home.

As I aged into adolescence, I learned to look up, to search out the moon and the planets, to connect with their rhythmic steadfastness.  Parents might disappear, but the moon was always somewhere above the horizon and ready to shine on or play peak-a-boo with me.  When I learned of the moon’s magical phases and their relationship with the sun, the most steadfast of heavenly bodies, I began to understand how light . . ., sunlight, made a profound difference in my life.  I felt better when I could close my eyes and offer my face to the sun.  I felt better when I could shed clothes and wander around seeing, scenting, and eventually sketching the world in which I found contentment and belonging.

Eventually, I learned an Old Celtic Prayer that honoured the connection I feel to the sun.  I continue to say this prayer pretty much daily, my face upturned to the eastern horizon, my hands on my heart as I recite the words:

You, who are the source of all power,

Whose rays illuminate the world,

Illuminate also my heart,

That I too may do your work on Earth.

When I say the third line, “Illuminate also my heart,” I describe the biggest heart I can on or around myself.  If I’m in a confined space, the heart I describe is over my torso.  If I’m standing in my garden, the heart I describe includes everything my wide open arms can include, right down to my feet and the Earth supporting them.

Experiencing myself as an essential part of the natural, larger-than-human world has kept me alive despite my early, life-threatening trauma.  Feeling this steadfast, unbreakable interconnectedness with the non-human world gives me a sense of kinship with animals and plants, earth and stone, that makes me more reverent than I would otherwise be.  This natural-world connection reminds me that in spite of human failings, Life belongs to Itself and that whether others know it or not, I am and will always be a part of this miraculous expression of creative chaos that unfolds throughout our galaxy and beyond.

May we all feel this sense of belonging to the vast web of life as we know it.   As the Light returns to the Northern Hemisphere, may we learn the dance of connection, of peace, of meaning, and of love.  Happy Winter Solstice!

Until next time,




Tapping and Thankfulness

Please Note:  Winter Blooms is an educational website only and is in no way meant to replace experience with a trained EFT practitioner, counselor, or therapist.  To find an EFT Practitioner, visit the AAMET website, the EFT Universe website, the Tapping Solution website, or contact Jane at 802-533-9277 or for EFT coaching support.

It is often challenging to practice stewardship at a time of year when everyone seems mad to eat from a sense of duty and tradition rather than gratitude and hunger and to buy goods to “fuel our economy” in its quest for limitless growth rather than out of personal need.  And yet we know in our wisest, most conscious moments that our habits of excessive consumption are killing our planet, shortening our individual lifespans, and alienating us from our brothers and sisters all over the world.  Here in the west, perhaps unwittingly, we have become insular and parochial rather than thankful world citizens.  We have made having more of everything the greatest good and in the process chained our souls to a brutal and unforgiving way of life.  We witness the signs of dire poverty on every street corner of every town, city, and village.  We witness racism at work in our educational, political, and judicial systems.  We complain about our leaders, but show no leadership ourselves.  We go along with things as they are because to do otherwise requires an effort we cannot imagine making.  Change, however, is always possible.  At this time of year, as the seasons change, as our fuel bills change, as our wardrobes change, as our relationships with our modes of transit change, the energies of change – of fundamental transformation – batter at the doors of our yearning hearts.

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