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Monday, March 14, 2011

Dance like David….

He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

Dance like David….
Psalm 149
 3 Let them praise his name with dancing
   and make music to him with timbrel and harp. 

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Dance as though no one is watching you.
Love as though you have never been hurt before.
Sing as though no one can hear you.
Live as though heaven is on earth.
Fr. Alfred D’Souza

Dance moves me.  It releases me from my fear, my body consciousness, my shyness. It is said that liturgical dance is a form of prophecy.  I am no prophet.  However, I do believe in the transformative nature of dance to carry those who minister through it and those with whom they worship beyond their current circumstances.   Liturgical dance is relational.  The dancer needs someone to lead as much as the group desires to be led.  

Recently, the liturgical ensemble to which I’ve belonged for nearly 10 years ministered through dance as part of a program at my church.  I do not dance with my church's liturgical ministry; I belonged to my ensemble before we joined the church where we currently worship, and the affinity I feel to that group is permanent. At the close of the program, my pastor called our ensemble forward, and said that what she most appreciates about us is that, though we are technically trained dancers who take our art seriously, we never perform.  She said, essentially, that we lead those before whom we dance into worship.  Wow.  We’ve never wanted to be solely performers, and indeed, when we were not looking for a compliment; we received confirmation, we were caught in the very act of doing what we most desired; diminishing ourselves to allow our bodies to be used as vessels to carry His Word. 

We all know how we behave when we know we need to be on our best behavior, right? The right clothes, SPANX, the right shoes, jewelry, hair tight, nails right,  etc.  As a life-long African American Baptist girl with church roots several generations deep, don’t EVEN get me started on the art and science of the Easter outfit.  However, what do you look like, inside and out, when you’re not preparing to Dance?

My promise to myself as I age, is to be consistently authentic.  That means being ready to Dance at any time.  I don’t mean literally.  Preparing to minister through dance means my body is in its best condition.  I am well fed; well stretched; well rehearsed, in fact, so much so that I don’t feel anxious about the choreography.  As a liturgical dancer, I feel best when I move beyond the choreography.  This does not mean that I ever take the art and the technique of our choreographer lightly.  Rather, I am ready to dance when my muscles know their job and my mind can be freed to worship.  I hate stressing over choreography, and I have a particular process for learning.  I’m NOT the dancer who gets it right the first time.  Rather, I need to live with the Work, studying it, replaying it in my head.  My Aha moments usually come in the kitchen, a day or two after rehearsal, when for me, it finally comes together.   So, ready to Dance moments for me are the result of consistent preparation, the practice of habits that I need to return to, regularly.

I am approaching the point in my life where I’m always ready to Dance.  In stepping on the altar as a liturgical dancer, I am truly never nervous.  I never consider the “audience.” Those are the moments when I “dance as though no one is watching…” Those are the times when my movement is a gift offered up, intimately, privately, unashamed.  I’d like my entire life to be like that.  So, the discipline I try to give to dance is the discipline I must give to the rest of my life. 

What does that mean? Physically, it means not needing to wear my SPANX anymore, because the discipline I have imposed upon my physical self means a) I no longer NEED to rely upon shape wear, assuming b) I stick  to the regular routine of exercise I have adopted that has put both my body and my head in much better shape.

When I speak, particularly in this season of Lent, I do not raise my voice.  For Lent, I gave up shouting at my children, believing that the discipline required will develop into a better habit, and that modeling the lesson to my children is a valuable thing, not only for them, but for me.  It also means that when I speak, what I say, and what I do (which shouts, even when I whisper or am silent) says so much about who I am, and who I desire to be.  Lord, let my speaking be a Dance for You.

So, I’m dancing like David. Remember the story? It is said that David was so filled in worship that he danced before the Lord like he’d lost his mind, a kind of "wild worship.” It was, however, authentic. So, from here forward, I’m doing me.  Not just when I’m dancing, but like it’s all Dance.  I can choose to focus on the challenges, or I can praise him, worshiping wildly, for all He’s done, and what’s to come, because the best is still ahead.

So, I dance, because He created us to Love Him.  I dance, because He created us to be His Hands and Voice in the world.  I dance, because Praise is What I Do.  And its what I want to do, whether or not anyone watches. Because He is always watching.  And whenever you might be feeling alone, or unhappy, you are reminded, as am I, that God’s love is an abundant feast.  And there it is. Further evidence that God is Good.   

OneWord 2015

OneWord 2015

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