“Anywhere people need to feel connected, I bring my drums and show them that connecting with people is easy. And yes, we can work together as humans to create magic. Rhythm succeeds where words often fail.”
It was one day before the attack into Gaza, and I came into iPeace with no idea of what was about to happen. I was excited to see the constructive energy of this network, to feel the vision of its founder, to take the pulse of its vibrantly creative members.
Immediately, that first day – I noticed the energy and commentary of a remarkable woman – a writer with vision and touch and sensitivity, who made things around her blossom, who made conversations stronger, who made writers into better writers.
I don’t know exactly how -- but “somehow” I got connected into this iPeace place. Everything came together, everything felt so positive.
And then – how can this be!! The bombs were coming out of the sky, the buildings were turning into rubble...
As I have experienced it, everyone here in iPeace was shocked and devastated. We were wounded, we were horrified, we were astonished. I can certainly say that of myself. Some of us, including me, could only respond with silence. So very quickly, I found myself “Beyond Words”. The iPeace network trembled from the shock...
But this community has endured, and its vision endures. And one of the reasons – is this remarkable woman, who I am privileged to introduce to you today.
I want you to meet – someone I have never met in person, someone whose voice I have never heard, someone – who I think I can confidently say is a real friend.
Ruach -- this Irish farmer’s wife – is a poet, a drummer, a visionary, an activist, a connector of souls. A mother...
She has a message. She has a vision. She has a skill and a special touch. And all of that comes together in a simple and unpretentious way that is deeply real and profoundly graceful.
So please allow me – to give you my friend Ruach, as she responded by email to a few questions I asked her.
THE ONLY WAY
Ruach, I have enjoyed getting to know you through the iPeace network. Wherever I go, I see your imprint, your touch. Your voice encourages the network to grow, you give it strength, you affirm the good in everyone you meet. Can you please tell us what it is that originally drew you to iPeace? What is it, deep inside yourself, that calls you to participate here, and give of yourself as you do?
As a very small child, I remember always having an awareness of the rest of the world both seen and unseen. I grew up in a very globally aware household, as my father was a great reader and his passion was politics. Names like Che Guevara, and Karl Marx were familiar to my ears, and a sense of global consciousness was almost a part of my upbringing.
I remember as a child writing a letter to the Yorkshire Miners in the UK after a mine collapsed and many men had died. I took their pain so deeply into my young heart. I remember watching the news and feeling intense shock and fear at what was happening "out there". Inside, some part of me knew that there was another way. What I now realize now, looking back, is that this was the birth of compassion within me.
As I child I also suffered very much with a skin disease called eczema, and experienced the harsher side of children's cruelty to each other, and was often bullied and isolated. As a result, I became a fierce defender of the underdog and got into many a scrape from desperately trying to mediate where I was not invited.
Perhaps as a result of all of this, I have always had a deep sense of connection with people regardless of colour or race, and also a deep desire to connect. I remember a friend of mine saying to me "how deep can you go over a cup of coffee", after I had asked her a particularly probing question that perhaps a more sensible person might have avoided. I have always been very bad at small talk, preferring to take a risk and cross boundaries to the very depth of a person's heart and ask "who are you?".
Of course, parallel to all of this was an unfolding spiritual journey which brought me often to the depth of despair as well as gracing me with the presence of divine beings showing me that LOVE is the only way.
So, to find iPeace so full of people willing to trust and let me in, to share and to give voice to their vulnerable selves as well as their deep wisdom, just filled me with passion.
You have a house full of drums. Tell us what it is you love about your drums and your drumming. How does your drumming connect you to people? How does it connect you to iPeace? Please tell us how your drumming is a positive force to bring people together....
My drums … !!
Almost 10 years ago a friend rang me up one day and said there's an African drumming workshop, will you come with me. So being polite, I thought why not. On the morning of the workshop my friend pulled out so I was driving to the venue on my own, thinking "I must be completely mad, what am I doing ??!!"
When I walked into the room and saw all of these drums, something deep inside of me leapt for joy. And when we began to play I was in total shock at how severe my reaction was. Every cell in my body was screaming. Every cell in my body was pulsating.
Over the last ten years, I have been blessed to have had so many amazing teachers and to be a part of a drumming community that changed my life. My journey through the drum has been deep and profound, and also deeply painful as well as deeply joyful. To me, drumming allows me to connect with the pulsating force of life itself. To feel a rhythm pounding through your body and to allow your body to just be within this rhythm is the closest thing to unity for me.
When I drum I allow this passion, this life force, this connection to carry me. My heart bursts open and I become a vessel. Every cell of my body dances with joy.
The drums have not only connected me with the rhythm of life but have brought me into my body as a woman...
Let me tell you briefly of the story of my skin before I return to the drums.
I used to have to take sleeping tablets before washing my face at night as the itch would be so bad. When I took off my socks my skin would peel away with them. My eyebrows had fallen out, and my hands were the hand of an old woman. I would walk with my head down so people would not see my ugliness.
Then one night in bed, before drumming came into my life, I had a conversation with the then God of my understanding.
I said, "God, you gave me this skin for a reason. I don't yet know what the reason is, but as you have given it to me, I will accept it. From now one I will hold my head up high and allow myself to be seen just as I am. Thank you God because I know that someday I will learn why I have been given this skin."
Now for those who don't believe in miracles, I can tell you that what took place in my life was a miracle. Within one week of this conversation with God my skin had healed. And I mean healed. No more sleeping tablets, no more skin sticking to my clothes, and my eyebrows started to grow back. My hands still remain like an old woman's to this day, but I blame an over use of cortisone for this.
A few months later I had what can only be described as an awakening. Suffice to say…God started to talk back.
Now -- let me clarify something here…it wasn't exactly God who talked to me -- before some people light a match under me -- but an essence that was of God. An essence that choose (for my sake) to use the name Seson.
Apparently (I was informed), my skin was to teach me compassion. To really know suffering, one must experience suffering. And suffer I did. But out of it again came compassion. So I thank God for my eczema for the gift that it was and continues to be.
So here I am as a woman, having been so ashamed of my body, now learning how to love it once again. Through the drumming and rhythm I learned to explore my skin. I allowed myself to dance and be free. I was blessed to have a safe community that was there to hold me and support me as I grieved the lost years of my womanness.
Now when I drum and sing, I can feel my skin and my body dance in gratitude.
When I drum, not only do I feel connected to myself but I become "as one" with the other drummers. In the style of drumming that we do, we use rhythms from around the world (Poly-rhythms). These Rhythms consist of many parts, and when the parts are played together, they weave in and out of each other to create one magical piece. Each person (or group of people) hold one rhythm and this is their journey, to play this particular piece as a gift to the rest of the group. So when all parts come together, each person is contributing to the creation of the final piece.
When we have "settled" the rhythm, it begins to cook. There is a moment when we all know that "this is it". We are on the rhythm train now and the journey is about to begin -- and the best bit is, you never know where the journey is going to take you.
I have drummed for hours, then fallen to my knees and cried tears of the universal mother from the depth of my soul. I have laughed, I have trembled, I have heard choirs of angels in my ears.
And then, when the journey comes to an end and we fall with exhaustion into a sacred silence, I look around at my community, whom ever it may be at that time, and my heart is filled with love for them. As without them I could not be. And without me, they could not be. I feel such a sense of connectedness that I know we really are only just the one. Anything else is just an illusion.
In 2007 I had an accident and I lost a finger on my right hand and severely damaged another losing the ability to grip. I sat back and asked God…"OK, what is this showing me, what do I need to learn from this?"
What followed was to be one of the most painful journeys of my life to date.
The journey of letting go.
People, places, thought patterns, habits, addictions. Everything that I had built around me to prevent me from seeing my true self came tumbling down.
In return I found me. In all my beauty. I found my own Goddess. And she was love.
I started Ruach Rhythms and went out on my own leaving behind the comfort of one community to create another similar community. A global community.
Now I bring my drumming to schools and youth groups. I work with women's groups, men's groups, people in crisis, addiction, juveniles. Anywhere people need to feel connected I bring my drums and show them that connecting with people is really easy and fun….and yes; we can work together as humans to create magic. Rhythm succeeds where words often fail.
Drumming has brought abundance into my life. I have an amazing team that now work with me and I am privileged to meet the most inspiring ordinary people, who are bravely exploring their extra ordinary selves.
I use my drums to heal. To laugh. To have fun. To connect. To explore. To reach out. To honor.
You posted a powerful blog piece, "Because we are women", pointing towards something deep that connects women. How can this connection help the world? How can this connection bond women in ways that advance the cause and momentum of peace everywhere?
I am deeply passionate about the power of Woman. Always the women grieve the pains of the world. Many have got lost along the way. But many are re awakening to their own internal Goddesses. The power to love. As woman, I love not just you, but I love yours, and everything that is you. Our love is profound. For too long men have been scared of the power of our love and for too long women have forgotten how to love themselves. Our connection is love. Simple.
The power of our Love unites all women.
"How can I not love you when you are but a reflection of me. How can I not love you when you are an exact expression of God"…… This is the voice of woman.
Some women have forgotten. But many are remembering now.
We can change the world because we can love our men and honor them for their beauty. But more importantly we can stand beside our men and say "No. I love you, but enough is enough".
But now we are saying this globally, universally. The universal mother now has a voice. And it is woman.
If your dreams could come true, and real magic could emerge through our work here on iPeace and around the world, what do you think that would look like? What is it that you are doing that might help that dream come true?
I believe real magic is already happening here on iPeace. We are creating a space to hear and be heard. When we enter the iPeace space we are giving the best of our true selves. And the more we give of this essence, the more it becomes us in our "real" worlds. iPeace is the micro of the macro. As within, so without.
I am not sure we as humans will ever have Utopia here on earth, but if we can at least manifest tolerance for diversity and release greed and develop a sense of compassion and responsibility for our fellow man, then I think the remainder of the journey will take place in another dimension…