Shall we dance?


"One cannot dance well unless one is completely in time with the music," Ann Morrow Lindbergh once wrote, and in this reflection by Fr Chris Gleeson SJ, we are all invited to find the intimate rhythm of the Lord.

- Madonna Magazine

In mid-March this year I had the opportunity to attend an Ignatian School Leaders’ workshop in beautiful Tagaytay City in the Philippines. High in the rolling hills above a thankfully dormant volcanic lake, Jesuit Father Johnny Go and his team deftly led about thirty of us through some exercises on Ignatian discernment and decision-making

During one of the sessions, Fr Johnny was talking about our various images of God and how they can affect our decisions and behaviour. One of the pictures he developed for us appealed to me a good deal—God as my dancing partner. It reminded me of a book by psychiatrist, Gordon Livingston, And Never Stop Dancing. The title comes from a piece in The Washington Post Magazine:

"After a bomb killed two dozen young people at a Tel Aviv disco a few years ago, Israeli youth refused to be cowed. They resumed a robust nightlife. Today, outside the scene of the bombing, beneath a stone memorial listing the names of the dead, is a single inscription: Lo Nafsik Lirkod. It means, We won’t stop dancing."

While I have never mastered the art of dancing, I have always enjoyed it. Sadly, my dancing partners did not have the same experience. Many good Catholic girls in Melbourne have had problems with their feet ever since those heady days of dancing class on Friday nights at St Peter’s, Toorak.

Dancing takes many forms, of course, and I often return to some lyrical words of Daniel O’Leary’s in his book, Already Within: Divining the Hidden Spring: 'I am now discovering that the more vulnerable I become as a human person, the more authentic I am as a priest. The light and the shadow—they need each other always; they dance together to give the colour to our lives. As Rainer Maria Rilke said, "If I manage to get rid of my demons, I fear my angels may leave as well.”'

In recent years we seem to have been talking and thinking a good deal about dance. Dancing with the Stars has been an increasingly popular television program, and it has been interesting to hear American Franciscan theologian, Richard Rohr, describe the Trinity as the Dance of God.

For many centuries Hindu India has developed a beautiful image to describe the relationship between God and creation. They talk about God ‘dancing’ creation. God is the Dancer, and creation is the Dance. While the dance is different from the dancer, it has no existence apart from him.

Read full reflection: My dancing partner - Chris Gleeson SJ (Madonna Magazine)

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