By Sister Marcella Clancy
I don’t know when I realized how much I love, no, need to dance. I am amazed others are able to stay stock still when a “lively” tune begins. The music strums the very fibers of my being and I must move, sway, or at least tap my foot. I never took dancing lessons yet there is something about dance that lifts my heart, improves my mood, and makes my spirit joyful.
Dancing Makes Us Joyful!
How delighted I was to learn that in Eastern theology a Greek term, “perichoresis” (pronounced per-ee-kor-ee’-sis) is used to describe the inner relationship of God. Our English word choreography is derived from it. Perichoresis suggests a dynamic interaction, a movement of intimacy and receptivity within God and between God and all creation. God is a Divine Dance!
As Sisters of St. Joseph, we promise to “move always toward profound love of God and of our ‘dear neighbor’”. This could evoke an image of climbing a long, arduous ladder of love. The image of God as a Divine Dance suggests an alternative concept that for me more accurately describes my relationship with God.
Who doesn’t love to twirl?
A round dance of individuals weaving in and out, whirling, twirling, spiraling around and about each other to a contagious beat, responding to each other’s movements, moving separately yet not independently requires:
- A willingness to let go, to focuses less on personal control and self-consciousness and more on yielding to the vitality of the dancing itself.
- A creativity that flows unimpeded. There is a free expression of self that is so much more than the repetition of memorized steps. One is attune to an inner movement that itches to express itself in the outer movement of the body.
- A receptivity that is open and responsive to the rhythm of the music and to the living energy and charisma expressed in the other dancers. When receptivity is at its peak, the dancers dance as one.
- A surrender to joy, to laugh at one’s missteps and accept the missteps of others, allowing the delight of dancing itself, not its perfection, to be both one’s motivation and one’s goal.
We all hear the music
These four qualities guide me in my relationship with God.
- The Image of God as a dynamic Divine Dance beckons me to listen attentively to my own heart. What God wants is inscribed in my own heart. “I will put My law within them and write it on their heart.” (Jer. 3:33) What inspires me, touches me, draws me? What is life-giving for me? There. There is found the Divine music to which God invites me to dance.
- Yet I am not the only dancer. All around me are others who moving to their own inner music. Their steps may be different than mine yet to be fully faithful to the dance I must be open and receptive to the unique energy and charisma each dancer expresses. They teach me new steps. I absorb their energy. I am not the choreographer of the dance. God is. “May they all be one.” (Jn. 17:21)
Don’t worry about the right steps,
- Often my greatest concern is the “right steps”. When that is my focus I become rigid, stiff, exacting. My focus is myself rather than the rhythm and beat of God’s living music and movement. The more I am able to surrender myself to the Divine music and movement flowing in and around me and in and around all creation the better dancer I become.
- God does not play dirges. “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn. 10:10) In times of sorrow and pain God draws close with a Divine melody that is comforting, caring and attentive. When my own missteps are the source of shame and suffering, God switches to a tune that both forgiving and healing. Always God finds me where I am and plays a Divine tune that slowly beckons me back to joy. “I want My joy to be in you and in you to reach its fullness.” (Jn. 15:11).
You can always find joy
in the dance with God
God longingly invites:
“Could I have this dance for the rest of your life?
Would you be my partner every day and night?
When we’re together it feels so right.
Could I have this dance for the rest of your life?”
About the Author
Sister Marcella Clancy currently lives in the Detroit area. She offers spiritual direction, serves on Congregational committees, and companions one of our newer members. She loves long walks, good movies, and leisurely lunches with friends.