“I Hope You Dance”
Those shepherds accepted the challenge of allowing God’s glory to be seen in their lives. That same challenge is ours! And when we manage to perceive God’s working in our lives, amazing things can happen! People behold the divine glory present and working in and through us. That’s why we dare to commit “ourselves and our resources to respond to the needs of our times with the very compassion of Christ.” We respond not simply with Christ-like compassion, but with the very compassion of Jesus, our new-born savior and Lord of our lives.
I perceive that’s our challenge at this point in our history as individuals, and as a community. On the cusp of one year, and the dawning of a new one, we have come to a greater acceptance of the reality of what Joan Chittister describes in her book THE WAY WE WERE: (Joan says) “Only one thing I know for sure. I know we have to do more with less. (I know) We are getting older. And, we are getting smaller. Most of all, I know we have to do it together.” Think about it: (I am not the first to says this) the miracle of the Red Sea was not that the waters parted. The miracle was that the first Jews dared to step into the open chasm. And others followed their lead. And, miracle of miracles, they came out on the other side.
Recently I got a new purse. That meant emptying the old one, digging to the bottom where I found a crumpled scrap of paper. I smoothed it out as best I could. What I read scribbled there must have been important the day in the past when I first wrote it. And it seems to me it’s a good directive as we contemplate the days ahead in our unfolding future: “Look to the past. Look to the future. And, then do the dance in the middle.” And I’ll add: don’t be afraid to be the first one on the dance floor. But neither do you have to be the first one – just don’t be a wall-flower. Heed the words of the Dan Schutte’s hymn: “Join in the dance of the earth’s jubilation! This is the feast of the love of God.” Join the dance, be it a two-step or a three-step waltz, the twist, the Bunny Hop, a line dance, a square dance or a reel; a gentle swaying of the body or drumming one’s fingertips. Do not fear, others will eventually join in. Remember, we’re together in the rhythm of the dance of community life. We’re the ones who give expression to the music of creation that we call Community.
Dance to the rhythm of communal prayer and meal times. Dance to the call for extra service when substitutes are requested or extraordinary tasks need doing. Dance to the silent beckoning of objects you spy out of place – return them to their usual home. Don’t ignore the nudge of a soiled surface and dusty corners. There’s a reason why God let you see their longing for a cleaner’s touch. Dance lightly when a person’s distracted or has a blank look, a pinched brow, or seems to be waiting for a smile or a “hello” or “want to talk?” Bend low with a ballet dancer’s grace as you offer gesture of gratitude. And, when you feel like you’re dancing as fast as you can but the whole world is spinning beneath you, it is. In the words of Albert Einstein: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Singer-Song writer Lee Ann Womack put words on my wish for you, for each, and all of us. I paraphrase her life-affirming message that invites us to step out and embrace life, in her uplifting song, “I Hope You Dance.”
“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder but always keep that hunger.
May you never take one single breath for granted.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance;
And when you get the choice to sit it out, or dance? I hope you dance.
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’.
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you’ll dance.”
Please, “when you have the choice
to sit it out or dance, I hope you’ll dance.”
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB