It seems to me that a great deal of 18th- and 19th-century English literature has to do with matronly women persuading eligible young men to invite eligible young women (and some not so eligible) to dance. Think of Darcy (popularized now in the PBS television series and also in film), that arrogant aristocrat so deftly imagined by Jane Austen in her classic Pride and Prejudice. When Darcy, at a country dance, is asked to comment on the local beauties, particularly Miss Elizabeth Bennet, he haughtily replied that she is “passable.” Not a great start—later in the story, he asks her to dance, only to learn the “passable” young woman had overheard his judgment!
Having been raised in a conservative religious background that frowned on social dancing, I have no personal history with this kind of social invitation. However, since literature, film (think of Dirty Dancing) and stage (this summer we saw Bernstein’s musical, West Side Story, and loved the scene where a well-meaning community organizer brought opposing gangs together on the theory that if they danced together they wouldn’t fight with each other), I think I understand that dancing with someone else is all in who is doing the inviting and how the invitation is given.
Perhaps it would be good to remind ourselves of some of these scenes in the vast body of creative work that chronicles all these invitations to dance. Perhaps it would be good to think about the last person to invite you to dance who you wanted to invite you to dance.
Then, think about the invitation that God is extending to those humans with whom He is choosing to partner:Shall we dance?
Perhaps this poem might help your meditation. Who is it who is inviting you to dance…?
before the world began; he danced in flame,
and galaxies were born, and songs became
the sinew of our bones, and he was Lord.
blue mountains of the Water of our birth,
and all the bells rang, and along the earth
the incense of a prayer rose, fresh and light.
He danced in speech, in names that had a power,
in dreams with symbols vibrant and unknown,
and all that was and is and is to come
was whole in race and worship in that hour.
But we have fenced him in and tied him down,
we think he comes as words and not as Word,
as only what we prove, what we have heard—
not seen, not tasted, and therefore not found.
We preach a thousand sermons, and we lift
a thousand prayers in motions memorized,
and stumble home and have not realized:
the dance is mind and heart—the dance is gift.
He seeks us in the bread we fear to break,
the banners that we lift with trembling hand,
the images we fail to understand,
the steps in God’s strange dance we fear to take.
He is the Word, a wild and dancing Word;
he sings; his joy is fierce, his longing deep.
he calls us from ourselves and bids us weep
and dance and worship him, for he is Lord.
When He invites you to dance, what will you say to His outstretched hand?
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.