Volume 33, No. 19
Dancing with God
I’ve seen an article making the rounds on social media about the positive effects dancing has on the brain. “As we grow older we suffer a decline in mental and physical fitness, which can be made worse by conditions like Alzheimer's disease. A new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.” Not only does dancing have a significant effect on the brain, I believe it enlivens the spirit as well.
A couple of Sundays ago, one church attender said to me, “I had a spiritual experience like I’ve never had in church.” Thinking I had preached a fabulous sermon or the music was especially beautiful, I asked what had made the worship service so meaningful. This person said that Lily Brashear was dancing. Not only was she dancing, but on this particular Sunday she danced with rhythm, with passion, and with spirit. When the music increased in volume, her arms raised higher into the air and her spinning became more dramatic. And when the music decreased in intensity, she folded in on herself with reverence and emotion. It was clear she was not dancing for us. She was dancing out of her own joy and with her own sense of freedom. Lily had a divine dance partner. She was dancing with God.
I know at some point Lily will outgrow dancing in church. She will feel self-conscious and embarrassed and will likely find other ways to express the joy bubbling in her heart. I think that will be a sad day for me. Each Sunday I look for Lily to lead me into worship. I long for my spirit to find such freedom, for my soul to jump in excitement and shrink in humility. Lily is the perfect dance partner for my spirit, the perfect way for me to enter into the presence of the divine. So, dance on, Lily. For you are dancing with God.