By Carol Mockovak, Becketwood Member
John and Vanjie Bratt moved into Becketwood in April of 2003. In July, Carol Mockovak moved in and, at the new members’ orientation later that summer, was introduced as a T’ai Chi Chih teacher. John Bratt came up to Carol after the orientation and told her that his wife was away teaching at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, but that she was also a T’ai Chi Chih teacher.
So with that stroke of serendipity, Vanjie and Carol began teaching T’ai Chi Chih at Becketwood in the fall of 2003. In 2005, they began an outdoor practice during the summer months at Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul.
The beautiful site, right next to the Mississippi River, draws people not only from Becketwood but from the surrounding communities. The practice is now listed in the St. Paul Fitness in the Parks program, which focuses on the benefits of t’ai chi and qigong.
Joy DeHarpporte, one of the many Becketwood residents who come to the practice, was inspired to write this beautiful poem about her experience.
The photographer who took the photos of T'ai Chi Chih at the river is Don Darnutzer.
The T’ai Chi Chih Touch
by Joy DeHarpporte, Becketwood Member
Under the warmth and beauty of August
a soaring eagle shows us the way
to glide, sway, curve and feel
our generous earth, the breeze, the sun.
We gather and follow Vanjie, follow Carol,
We leave possessions, concerns, strivings,
and listen to our present existence --
listen to nature’s greeting of today.
We listen to the silence of our movements,
Listen to peace expand with the breeze,
Listen to the fullness of meditative motion,
Listen to the Mississippi’s murmur
as we gently lean and dip, step and stretch,
Arms circle, knees bend, hands settle,
With deliberate, simple motions
we calm our bodies and minds.
Instead of dominion, we have communion,
Instead of alone, we join together
to sooth and strengthen our spirits,
And we will return refreshed and ready
to help heal a tattered world.