Dancing With God To Life
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
My wife and I once attended an evening’s entertainment at Central Michigan University where I worked. After eating a good meal and listening to many talented performers, the orchestra moved to a large hall where we had few hours of dancing. After my few valiant attempts to move with the music which Barb graciously endured, we took seats at a table to watch the folks who knew what they were doing. We were amazed how some couples moved so effortlessly together knowing exactly where the each other was and how to coordinate their movements. They were beautiful to watch.
I’ve thought often that mastering the Christian life is like learning to dance with God. When do we move quickly; when slowly? When do we touch and when do we create a space? Are we turning left; are we turning right? God leads not for the sake of ego or control but for the sake of the dance. We follow not out of fear or subservience but, again, for the sake of the dance.
The analogy doesn’t exhaust the reality by any means since the dance we do with God isn’t for our enjoyment alone but for the joy of all creation, especially the rest of humanity. Still, the image is useful. What’s the music that God is moving to? Are we moving to the same melody? How is God loving? How do we love the same? What’s God trying to give? How can we cooperate in his generosity?
I’ve known a few young couples who were excellent dancers but all of the really good dancers that night at Central were older couples. They had learned over many years how to avoid one another’s toes and how each heard the music and liked to move. Their grace wasn’t magic and it hadn’t come quickly.
Well-meaning Christians sometimes think that they can learn God’s steps simply by having a good heart and being determined. They follow the rules – like school children moving their feet on diagrams of printed steps. But it takes watching God and listening to God and growing comfortable in God’s arms. That’s not learning rules; that’s a conversation – with or without words – that’s praying.