Dancing to the Beat of a Different Drummer
By Sandra Higgins Smith, LUT

“The event turned out better than I ever imagined, and I’m looking forward to the next adventure on the happy road to fulfill my Divine purpose of ministry.”

When Rev. Valerie Mansfield, minister of Unity of East Louisville (UEL), asked me to lead a drum circle, I had no idea how to do it. As I am always open to trying new things, my immediate response was ‘yes’ without giving a second thought to the fact that I had never even participated in a drumming circle. I found UWM Drum Circle Songs on the Unity Worldwide Ministries website. I created a handout of the lyrics for participants to read, sing, and drum along. I created a playlist from Apple Music and purchased a loud speaker so that the music could be heard over the drumming. I watched a few YouTube videos, consulted with Beci Rohkohl, a fellow UUMS student and an experienced drum circles leader, and researched ideas on creating an interacting experience. I decided to introduce the children’s game, “Follow-the-Leader,” coupled with a unique melody I found from the Ewe Tribe in Ghana, in which the drumbeat is syncopated with the words “ham and cheese,” “peanut butter and jelly,” and “mac and cheese.”

It was a team effort. Suzanne Gregorio, a member of the UEL board, posted the event on Facebook and community drum circles websites. The church prayer chaplains set up chairs and built a fire in the firepit. They even brought extra drums.

On Wednesday, June 14, 2023, the 69 degree weather, tree-lined church, and beautiful spring flowers in full bloom provided the perfect backdrop for an evening of community and spiritual connection. The church parking lot began to fill up as guests arrived.

At the beginning of the program, I had everyone form a circle around the firepit and opened with a “Oneness Meditation” of gratitude and awareness for the life-sustaining heartbeat that we all share. I divided the group into three sections and had each participant take turns with follow-the-leader and the Ewe Tribe’s tradition with a specific beat for each section.

We drummed to the UWM Drum Circle songs for about 30 minutes and enjoyed S’mores we made around the fire. Several participants signed up to receive information on future events at Unity of East Louisville. At Rev. Valerie’s suggestion, we opened the last half hour for “free-style” drumming to anyone wishing to express themselves. As divine order would have it, there were several “seasoned drummers” who were delighted to share their knowledge and skills.

As we danced to the beat of the drums, our spirits were lifted, our cares disappeared, and we felt the sensation of one heartbeat–the oneness of Spirit.

Sandra Higgins Smith is a Licensed Unity Teacher and second year student at UUMS and Volunteer Adult Education Leader at Unity of East Louisville, Kentucky. This was her first Drum Circle experience and, as she said, “The event turned out better than I ever imagined, and I’m looking forward to the next adventure on the happy road to fulfill my Divine purpose of ministry.”

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