Lord of the Dance
When was the last time you danced? That was the question posed in an Easter Vigil homily this year. For some, it was during Roosevelt’s administration—Franklin’s, not Theodore’s—when jazz and jitterbug were the cat’s pajamas. Although I had asked this question in a health-care facility—primarily to priests and brothers in their seventies, eighties, and nineties—also represented in the congregation were generations who displayed fancy footwork doing the Twist and Mashed Potato in the late 1950s, the Monkey, the Jerk, and the Funky Chicken in the 1960s, and the disco fever that ailed me in the 1970s.
I digress to acknowledge that as a high school student, I participated in a charity dance marathon in our school gym. To dazzle the judges, my dance partner, Ann, and I executed an elaborate pretzel-like arm formation that was the envy of every circus contortionist. After performing nonstop interpretations of the Hustle, my two left feet spent the next evening at home propped up on the sofa while I watched Starsky & Hutch. My container of Dynamints is likely still buried somewhere beneath the cushions.
“Join in our Master’s rejoicing,” exclaimed an anonymous homilist on Easter in the fourth century. “You who were the first to come, you who came after, come and collect now your wages. The rich and the poor sing and dance together. You that are hard on yourselves, you that are easy…make merry today….Away with bewailing of failings: Forgiveness has come from the grave. Away with your fears of dying: the death of our Savior has freed us from fear.”
Our Savior’s death has even liberated us from fear of that unselfconscious, spontaneous kind of dance that’s propelled by our delight in God’s plentiful redemption. In “The General Dance,” Thomas Merton wrote, “The Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance.” Imagine, then, our God tapping his foot while the choirs of angels sing! Picture Father, Son, and Holy Spirit interlocked in a sacred pas de trois…then inviting us to join in.
Summer, the season for rest and relaxation, is an ideal time to engage with the Lord of the dance. The change in routine allows us to put aside inhibitions and reflect on our blessings of family, friends, freedoms, and faith, to name only a few. May we be granted enough unstructured time to prop our feet up on the couch and resolve to forgo bewailing of our fears and failings. Then, in a moment of total surprise, we just might jump to our feet, grab a loved one, pick up a child, or take our guardian angel by the wing and dance for no reason other than the love of God in our heart! Disco ball, optional.