In a conversation with some Greek Orthodox friends, one of the women, a theology student used this phrase to describe the nature of the Trinity. “Ah, yes,” she said, knowingly. “Perichoresis koinonia.” Perichoresis koinonia? … I had never heard of this. My Reformation, Protestant, Anabaptist background had obviously left me with some holes in my theological understanding.
A word-search explained things. Peri- is from the Greek word for “around,” and is also the root for the English word “perimeter.” The English word “choreography” (literally, “dance-writing”) is from the Greek choreia and graphe. It is also related to the Greek choresis, which means “dancing.” Koinonia is the Greek word meaning “fellowship.” The whole phrase—perichoresis koinonia—means, literally, “dancing around.”
In a sense, the Holy Trinity is the first dance troupe! More amazingly, we humans are invited to step into that sacred dance, to keep step with the Holy Three as they are in step with one another.
I believe we humans long subliminally to enter that joyful circle—to be part of an encircling embrace in which we feel (at last) that we truly belong.
So how do we get to that place where we begin to understand that we are “dancing around” (in step finally) with God—with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?
Here are a few of the rules I am trying to learn in my own daily ‘dance’ practice.
Those who learn to dance with God must understand these basic dancing concepts:
- A dancer must want to learn to love being a part of the holy dance.
- A dancer must learn to accept the invitation (in daily and weekly practice) to the dance.
- A dancer must understand that there will always be missteps, that as far as holy dancing is concerned, we are all novices.3
- All must work at becoming proficient at stepping in time.
- Good dancers must learn to let go and follow.
- It is important to realize and continually remember that this is not solo dancing; it is a tandem exercise.
- Eventually all great dancers learn to let the dance take over.
- In time the dancer becomes the dance; and the dance becomes the dancer.
Just to give you an idea, here are a few of the “dance” steps I have practiced already this day: When I wake in the middle of the night, I turn my spirit, gently and quietly, to prayer. This is a quiet soft-shoe step that reminds me that God is not sleeping, that His love is nearby, and that my concerns are His concerns. This morning, early, I read a chapter in the devotional book I am reading. I wrote, as I do often twice a day, in my prayer journal—I placed all the activities and plans of my day in his hands. All of this took place before 5:30 in the morning.
A whole day stretches forth in which to keep step with Him—this day and the next and the day after that.
But first, do you want to join the perichoresis koinonia? Do you want to step in time with the Ones who are beyond time?
Other projects involving Karen right now are: Working with teams of Christian women to design Retreats of Silence, in both 24-hours and three-days formats, through the aegis of Hungry Souls. Developing hospitality initiatives that train Christian men and women how to use their own homes in caring outreaches through the Open Heart, Open Home ministries. Launching the Global Bag Project, a worldwide effort that markets sustainable cloth shopping bags to provide sustainable incomes for bag-makers in developing nations. Researching the impact of listening groups while overseeing some 240 small groups over the last three years. Experimenting with teleconference mentoring for Wannabe (Better) Writers. Designing the Tales of the Kingdom Web site.