I’ll Live in You, if You Live in Me; Dance then, Wherever You May Be.
John Mogabgab, founding editor of Weaving, prays, “May the Lord of the Dance kindle in us a passion for the promenade of love that moves to the music of the new creation.”
The Advent image of the Dance appears in the gospel today in a negative way, ‘some played the flute for you, and you did not dance’. We can sway to the rhythm of Advent, redeem those who do not dance, and show them that the season of poinsettias is not for wall flowers! In fact Jessica powers in her poem “The Visitation Journey” may show us just that? “Love hurried forth to serve”, but this girl upon a donkey ‘has thoughts blown past her youth’. On her jolting donkey ‘she rides further and further into the truth. Mary’s not dancing. Mystery is moving deep within her. When the journey ends John’s dance in Elizabeth’s womb greets Mary. Now Mary’s dance can begin for real.
We want to dance because of the One who danced in the morning when the world was begun, who danced in the moon, in the stars and the sun; who came down from heaven and danced on the earth, In Bethlehem he had is birth.
There is a story of a mean old shepherd living on a hill above Bethlehem. The Holy Family arrives in the darkness of night, and no one will open a door. The only light is a shepherd’s fire. He refuses to help Joseph but relents seeing that Joseph has nothing in which to carry the burning coals from the fire. Joseph says thanks and puts a few hand fulls in his mantel and rushes back to Mary. The shepherd follows. ‘What’s going on?’ he asks. Joseph truthfully answers, ‘If you cannot see what is going on, there is nothing I can tell you.” The shepherd sees a stable and a young mother with a newborn baby. She is shivering. Joseph’s fire has not yet warmed the place. The mean shepherd who has never been kind to anyone before is moved by a feeling he cannot describe. He takes off his coat, the warmest in Bethlehem full of wool. He lays it over Mary. At that instant he sees what he could not see before. What does he see? A stable packed with angels, from the hills around Bethlehem armies of angels march to pass the stable to see for themselves the baby Jesus. When they pass, they break ranks quickly making room for others, and the marching gives way to angelic dancing. The mean old shepherd stopped being mean. He always looks around the hills and remembers what he saw. His heart dances; a baby, dancing angels, the smile of that young woman.
Madeline L’Engle tells of a ‘Dance in the Desert’ when the caravan taking the Holy Family rests for the night. In the light of the campfire desert animals, and a dragon and unicorn, come before the child Jesus to dance for him. Mary stops one of the me who would kill a snake thinking to protect the child. But Jesus moves close to them, arms open, welcoming them and laughing at some of their awkwardness. Mary realizes their acts of reverence. The final dance ends with the unicorn laying her head in Mary’s lap.
During Advent let us dance because angels and saints among us dance to see the Savior; sinners among us dance because they see the love of mercy; and those who do not know Jesus, they will dance, because they will know the invitation to life.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Jamaica, New York.