At our March 24/14 Open Annual Meeting, we announced that Kalyn Falk had been named as the saint benedict’s table artist-in-residence for the coming year. We thought it made sense to ask Kalyn to introduce herself, and to give a sense of the project she’ll be working at over the year.
I might not be the person you were expecting.
When people think of me in the context of saint ben’s, they might think of me as the woman who used to sit between a bouncy boy and a dog in a purple vest, doling out gummi bears. Or maybe they just know me as the blonde in the front right corner, occasionally helping with communion, but otherwise fairly indistinct.
But if you get past the motherhood and the middle-age, I have another identity that may surprise you. I was the founder of Celebration Company (now known as Masterworks Studio, a ministry of Youth for Christ), a Christian dance school. For a number of years I was also part of a women’s performance drumming group called insisto. Movement has always been a part of my experience of God, of being called to life and of connecting with myself and others.
When my boys were young and I had to move away from dance for awhile, I became increasingly aware that, although some people are called to perform at a high level, all of us are called to bring our bodies into our experience of God. Many of us come to prayer with so many filters of what we should think or feel, we cannot hear God’s voice authentically. For most of us, our bodies can be the place of vulnerability, the starting point where there are no filters and God can meet us in unexpected ways.
I grew very interested in making movement accessible for people who had no formal training. Over the last few years, I developed a simple movement pattern involving six postures of prayer for people to use in both corporate and personal prayer settings.
My proposal for my year as Artist-in-Residence was to continue to explore body prayer, and to specifically think more deeply about the six posture exercise. By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have completed a book on the subject.
Because movement is experiential, my research requires the participation of the community. In a few months, I will host a series of evenings for people to engage the postures and reflect on the themes that they represent. These evenings will be open to everyone, but will require a commitment to take part in the whole series.
I will also offer 3 evenings that are more general in nature. One will be about story-telling, so that people from the congregation can connect with their own stories in new and reflective ways. One will be about body prayer in general, and one will be to reflect on the project when the series has finished and the book itself is beginning to take shape.
As some of you know, I finished a book about parenting and autism this year, which was a great journey. Now, as I consider an opportunity to think and write about my other love, I am honoured and grateful to begin with the support and affirmation of my faith community. Thank you for this opportunity.
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Kalyn Falk, MA, is a spiritual director, workshop facilitator and retreat guide. She writes in the areas of both spirituality and autism. Her first book, Mother of the Year and Other Elusive Awards: Misadventures in Autism was released in December 2013. Her volunteer activities include coaching for Special Olympics and serving as warden at saint benedict’s table. She has been shaped significantly by parenting two wonderful people, one of whom is profoundly autistic. Kalyn lives in Winnipeg with her sons Jase and Noah, her husband David, and her service dog dropout, Charlie.