It was 2005. Imagine. The dome, filled with the voices of 30+ women, singing, singing, singing. At the end of one song, there might be a gentle chorus of sighs. Another might conclude with a wild cheer of exultation, complemented by stamping feet and extended applause. Some tunes were seemingly simple—just two or three lines—but required precise timing. Others involved complicated rhythms that eluded a few of us but left us laughing.
Repeat this scene for several years, some women returning many times. Summer after summer, four teachers inspired us, lifted us, helped us become better than we thought possible. One of the songs demonstrated to us our own untapped abilities: I can do that/I just don’t know how yet/Show me now.
Lullabies sung in the dark to the Lama Beans. Songwriting. Dancing dreamily as we sang “This body, this breathing/This/This.” Walking the labyrinth, hiking to the spring, traipsing up and up and up to the Maqbara to sing at Murshid Sam’s grave. A Saturday night salon, emceed by teacher Mel and Lama Bean alum/accomplished comic Megan.
Different each year, depending on who returned, who came for the first time, who we missed. Always new, but knowing there would be a transformative experience.
Then, 2014. The tenth year. Our teachers thought it was time to record. Oh what a new experience this was for us. Practicing, honing, rehearsing a song until our timing was just right, rather than singing only for the sake of making song. After each concluding note, 47 women held a collective breath, waiting for the “click” of the button that signaled we could shift, breathe, move a foot or a chair or a focus.
To be part of something bigger than ourselves is one of the keys to being healthy and happy in life. Whether this comes from spiritual practice, our families, our calling in life, this work we do provides meaning, much like being part of Lama itself.