Dancing through life, not with the stars

15 Aug

I admit it–I’m no dancer. Coordinated body movement is not my strength. My eldest niece is a professional dancer, but she didn’t inherit her talents from me.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that I am somewhat mystified by the dancing with the stars, dancing with the profs, dancing with whomever thread in popular culture at the moment. No doubt I’m missing something that explains its significance.

Don’t misunderstand me, though. I have nothing against dancing. In fact, my favorite classical music (those who know me know that I love classical music–rock and roll passed me by) is ballet. Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty–there is music that is by turns haunting, yearning, sad, joyous, celebratory, noble.

All this leads me to share something I read this morning. I recently started perusing The Westminster Collection of Christian Meditations, compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild. One reading is now lodged in my heart, and I am meditating on it. It is by Rubem A. Alves, a Brazilian Protestant theologian, from his Tomorrow’s Child: Imagination, Creativity, and the Rebirth of Culture (SCM Press, 1972), pp. 194-196:

There is no universal recipe for living. Living has to do with a choice of contexts. It is up to us to choose the relevant points of reference–the horizons–the directions–or, if you will, the stimuli which are going to make up the world to which we are responsible. Living is like dancing. As you dance you move your body according to a rhythm and a harmony which fill the space. The complexity of our human predicament is due to the fact that a number of conflicting rhythms and harmonies are being played at the same time. You cannot dance them all; if you try, you become schizophrenic and your body is split (or immobilized) by contradictory dynamics. Personality demands integration. As Kierkegaard once said that purity of heart is to will one thing only, so we might say that purity of heart is to dance to one rhythm only.

You may dance the tune played by the present reality. Your style of life will be realistic and pragmatic. Or you may choose to move your body under the spell of a mysterious tune and rhythm which come from a world we do not see, the world of our hopes and aspirations. Hope is hearing the melody of the future. Faith is to dance it. You risk your life, and you take your risk to its ultimate conclusion, even the cross, because you detect a strange odour of death mixed with the fascinating music of Mephisto, lord of the ‘present evil world’. The rhythms of the future, on the other hand, contain promises of freedom, love and life. It is worth the risk–even if we lose!

This set of images–this grand metaphor–of dancing to the melody of the future new creation seems a very promising way for me to be open to the work of Spirit within me and around me as I begin a new academic year. Perhaps it will be fruitful for you, too.

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One Response to “Dancing through life, not with the stars”

  1. Pam August 15, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    I love this. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

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