April 30, 2006
Do you remember your first high school dance?
Maybe you were one of the free and the brave who stepped out on the dance floor as soon as the music started.
I certainly wasn’t.
I was one of the majority of kids hanging out in the corner of the gym thinking how much fun it would be to dance,
but much too shy and awkward to take the plunge.
It was the early 80’s when disco was just about dead
and breakdancing was beginning to be all the rage.
My parents had taught me a few polka steps for my cousin Marylou’s
Polish wedding, but moonwalking and spinning on my head was
way beyond me,
not to mention actually asking a girl to slow dance!
As an adult I remain a reluctant dancer,
although it still looks like a lot of fun to me.
Dance, however, has become a central image in my spiritual life,
especially since meeting Fr. Bob VerEecke and worshiping here at
St. Ignatius where we are so fortunate to have the Boston
Liturgical Dance Ensemble pray with us at Christmas, Easter and
other big holy days during the church year.
This week, for my birthday, I received tickets from Fr. Bob to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
I loved every minute of the flawless performance.
The dancers were stunning.
Their energy, their precision, their grace and beauty,
were a revelation to me of God the dancer.
They spoke to me of the kind of passionate, embodied life and love that we are all called to as sharers in the resurrected life of Christ.
One of the things I really appreciated about the Alvin Ailey dancers was the intentionality of their movements and the fullness of their presence to each other and to the audience.
This kind of intentionality, embodied movement, and real presence
are what liturgy
and Christian service are supposed to be about.
I think that too often our liturgical lives as Christians here in Church
and our lives of service out in the world
look too much like the early hours of a high school dance.
As Christians we can be much too reluctant and fearful.
We stand against the wall in a dark corner watching a few brave
dancers in the middle of the room.
We dream of joining in the
fun, but we never really find the courage to bust a move.
Too often we are like those first disciples huddled behind locked doors in the upper room.
Our fears and self-doubts keep us from embodying our faith and love.
Our indifference and complacency keep us from being really present
to God and to each other.
Our singing is restrained.
Our posture is pathetic.
Our service is too selective.
Our kiss of peace is unconvincing.
Our work for justice is wanting.
We fail to look the poor and oppressed directly in the eye and welcome them into our friendship.
But the good news is that Jesus breaks through those locked doors.
He comes down off the stage, off the dance floor,
into the dark corners of the gym and reaches out his hand to us.
He invites us to dance.
He never stops inviting us to the fullness and freedom of his resurrected life.
Oh yes, it’s terrifying, and the sight of this risen Jesus, dancing toward us, pulling us into the spotlight
can startle us just like it startled those first disciples.
But he is gentle, patient and forgiving:
“Why are you troubled?” he asks.
“And why do questions arise in your hearts?”
Touch me and see that I am real.
My love for you is the most real thing in the world.
I won’t leave you alone on the dance floor.
In fact, I’ll make you look pretty darn good.
Be not afraid.”
Those first disciples who were startled and terrified
soon became amazed and incredulous with joy.
In this joy they danced their way to their own crosses and
their own resurrections.
We can know this joy too.
We can all be among the free and the brave.
With the risen Christ, the world is our dance floor.
Shall we dance?