Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dance with Me

So often it seems there are two opposing images of God and Life that stand in the ballroom of this world. And they don't dance well together. Life wants to boogie, and God (we think) wants to sit with folded hands on the sidelines. 

While we're making our moves through Life, jumping "to the beat of the rhythm of the Night", and "everybody working for the weekend," God seems like the garish light of Day. 

"OK, party's over. Get ready for Church!" 

In this vision, God is the Debbie Downer, the wet blanket that smothers any spark of passion we find on the dance floor of Life. We have here the dynamic of pleasure versus puritanism. If it feels good, there must be something sinful in it. If it's boring, dull, uptight, it must be the morally right thing to do. But what if both extremes are faulty steps in the dance?

Years ago, during my discernment in the seminary, I remember giving talks to high school students, and they would always ask questions like this: "Can you go to parties? Can you work out? Can you listen to music? Can you drink beer?" It was apparent that their vision of seminary, or of being "religious", involved walking around with candles, chanting in Latin, and generally looking like liver and onions was for dinner... again.

But is this vision of the "Divine as dull" accurate? Is faith boring? Is God's dream for us one of gloom and misery, penance and pain. Are we allowed to "enjoy" this world, this life, or must we somehow seek to bypass it for the Kingdom to come? Why did He create us after all? What is our purpose? 

It seems that the desire to dance runs deep... to lose ourselves in something bigger than ourselves, to find ecstasy (which means literally to stand outside of ourselves). What do we do with this desire? It's universal, it must mean something.

"The fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the wind, and join in the general Dance."
- Thomas Merton

Who is God? As the song goes (and ironically I'm not a huge fan of this song) God is the "Lord of the Dance." God's deepest identity in fact is not the lonely Old Man watching to see if you keep the rules, but He is the Dance. What does the Church really teach about God? "God Himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange." (CCC 221) Whoa.... ponder that one. Eternal giving and receiving, Eternal Love! Isn't that what our hearts really want? Wouldn't that be ecstasy? This is God's deepest identity! He is an ecstatic, eternal communion of life-giving Love! He is a Trinity! And this Blessed Trinity is Who we celebrate today!

The Old Testament book of Proverbs from today's first reading sings "When the Lord established the heavens I was there... and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race."

It's time for some revisionist thinking on just Who God is, and on just what kind of Dance we're invited into. Who's giving these blurred and stilted images of God to us anyway but those who are only "dancing with myself" as Billy Idol once piped? That sounds boring to me. So let's cut loose, and get footloose in a manner of speaking. As Augustine once said, "Love God, then do what you will!" Let's dance in the Love and Light of this incredible God today, in the Great Dance of Eternal Love. 

And a  word of advice from personal experience; Let Him lead.

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