Monday, June 30, 2014

Daring to dance freely in life

As we ponder frequently and deeply about what really matters in life during our moments spent in meditation, something about life can sometimes pop up giving us fodder for further contemplation – and this is whether or not life has truly mellowed us to be able to enjoy the dance of life as it is presented to us, or have we been perhaps a tad too rigid and stiff.  And I am not just making references to our physical selves. 

Spiritual gurus and directors who are truly in touch with themselves seem to share one thing in common – and this is the struggle to maintain some semblance of balance in their lives – a balance between living out a righteous life, and knowing when to enter into the flow of life itself to as it were, enjoy the dance of life.  It is not so much a carte blanche to live as if one needs to fall from grace or perhaps beneath one’s dignity and thus sully one’s quest for holiness.  Just the opposite – it is rather that at these times, when faced with the options of preserving the self and risking the consequences of a truly loving and life-giving act, that one courageously chooses the latter, and the result would be that God is revealed in ways much clearer and more real than if the former choice was made.  Jesus showed great examples of such ways of courageous living when he went out of the traditional ways that a Rabbi was supposed to live when he worked miracles on the Sabbath and dared to dine with prostitutes and touch lepers. 

We all have limited experiences of life and its seeming vagaries.  Those of us who are schooled and trained in the virtues of steadfastness, accuracy, discipline and safety, tend to be the ones who find it hard to respond with any degree of spontaneity when such moments surprise us when people and situations appear out of the blue, without our being prepared for them.  Like images that emerge from out of the blind spots in the rear-view mirror of our cars, these moments not only require of us to be on full alert to respond with love, charity and kindness, but also will reveal to us our truest and most raw of selves simply because we were not able to be on our guard to be at our seemingly perfect best.

When Ronald Rolheiser asked that poignant question “Are our lives driven more by fear than by love?” he was asking if in fact if we are far too interested in protecting our selves (and our egos) than living in right response to God’s often hidden and unplanned overtures of love.  But to be sure, it often takes an awakening of sorts to arrive at that level of living and loving.  Not that it means that we are called to some kind of wild and uncontrolled debaucherous and ecstatic living with no limit and borders, but that we will know when and what is appropriate and when it is necessary for us to go beyond borders and socially accepted “OB markers”.  This calls for an extremely heightened awareness of what and who we are made for, and it is also extremely difficult to live all the time at that level.  For many, it would be like breathing rarified air 24/7. 

Jesus has always shown us that the opposite of love is not hatred but fear, and for most of us unenlightened ones, it is fear that keeps us from being loving, kind, charitable, patient and generous when they are asked of us.  Instead, fear can often end up making us just the opposite – hateful, despicable, judgmental, selfish, unkind, impatient and even cantankerous without trying.   

Ultimately, we need to constantly ask ourselves what God really takes pleasure and delight in – is it our concern for safety, our scrupulous concern for the world’s moral failings, or in symbolic terms, the keeping of our baptismal garments in its pristine condition at the expense of every thing else?  Or does God in fact take far more delight in the fact that we are keeping our eyes open to see his outstretched hand, inviting us to dance with spontaneity the joyful dance of life? 

It’s never going to be clear cut, and we will make some wrong choices, but we must never tire of that great learning curve of how to love as God loves.  

And train our lungs to breathe rarified air.


  1. Hmmm frLuke it is a delight to read your reflection this morning. Even in prayer, i realised that i am 'rigid to the core'. And this morning before the Blessed Sacrament, i asked "am i doing my HH out of fear, habit, desire or ....." And my answer was somewhere in your ruminations. Thank You Lord and thank you too, frLuke.


  2. Dear Fr Luke

    Your post reminded me of a poster I read in one of the social media yesterday, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain."

    Indeed, if without the graces of God guiding me to walk this journey, faced with the many challenges in life I wonder where and how will I cope. Daring to let go.. is a fear that is often difficult to do, due to the "I" ego. Daring to love, not the usual BGR thingy, but to love the needy, the most difficult people, is a test on our faith, on how much we trust in His providence to do it... Zita

  3. Thank you, Fr. Luke for another insightful post. It really made me think.

    If true love, or loving deeply, is some sort of Divine dance, then I suspect that most of us were born with two left feet! It doesn’t come that naturally, and we need to be led, by the Divine dance-instructor, who incidentally, also wrote the (musical) score. A piece of music so beautiful, so sublime, that it would leave even the supremely talented Amadeus W. Mozart open-mouthed with awe.

    But how are we going to learn to dance the dance, if we insist on leading in the first place? This is always going to be a problem. We would never get it right. Or worse still, if we even refuse to get on the dance-floor at all, for fear that those looking on would laugh at our many missteps? Oh, the shame of it all.

    But everyone, irrespective of inclination, ability or status is invited to the ball; to dance; to trip and fall - and to get up and dance again.

    I danced in the morning when the world was young
    I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
    I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
    At Bethlehem I had my birth

    Dance, dance, wherever you may be
    I am the Lord of the dance, said he
    And I lead you all, wherever you may be
    And I lead you all in the dance, said he
    (Lyrics from “The Lord of the Dance”- verse 1 and refrain)

  4. Dance freely when i am able to open myself and let the Lord leads even the people think I dance in an insane way. During the difficult dance steps, I should continue to trust my partner and let Him leads. It should be a both way of communication without fear and dare to ask : Lord, what am I dancing for? It is my honour to dance with You, my Lord.