THEOLOGY OF DANCE
How to Love God
The central mystery of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Word made flesh. God become man, took on flesh and dwelt among us. His incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven are what the entire Christian faith is built around.
The Christian rarely says "Jesus was." Instead he says that "Jesus is." A Christian does follows the teachings of Jesus, in a way one might follow the teachings of Socrates. But its much deeper than that. A Christian has a living relationship with Jesus Christ. While a Christian imitates Christ she also follows him. She has a dance with Christ in the music of the Holy Spirit, and in doing so makes Christ visible in the world while finding her joy.
The Leader: God
Jesus is the leader of our dance; he defines the space in which we live and move and have our being.
God is both transcendent and intimate. In terms of transcendence he is very different from us; he is far away, high above, and grand. He is the creator and author of the universe; he is a king- the King of kings.. Because of that he has the right to our obedience and worship and the right to rule us.
Like a father he is both transcendent and immanent. We share our parent’s nature but when we are young they are also quite different and much more powerful than we are. Parents are the source of our being and our loving nature. Parents provides for us. God is not merely like a father. Rather he is our Father, and all earthly fathers are kind of like our father in heaven.
In terms of immanence he makes himself small enough to enter into our hearts. He lowered himself, took on our nature, even becoming man. He wished not merely to become like us but even one of us, that he might raise us up to be like him. In this immanence he became our brother; in this immanence he is a lover that would never force his beloved to do anything, but desires to be a gift to her that she might be a gift to him.
To describe God as a king or even as a father seems reasonable to us, because there is an inequality. But what makes Christianity unique is that God chooses to make us his equal in loving him. For that reason it's important to understand the analogy of lover, and to love well in life. All are necessary to have an adequate understanding of who God is and how to follow him.
The Follower: The Saint, The Church
In dance the role of the follower is to fill the space created be the lead with great passion and energy. By doing this she expresses the pattern in her person and finds her joy. This is an image of both the saint with Christ and the Church with Christ.
Our relationship with God is both communal and individual. As a community we form the church, instituted by Christ. The Church is the bride of Christ. Just as dancers learn in community so too saints learn in a community. One wants to learn dance from the great dancers, and spirituality from the great saints. Since we are part of that community and since we share a common humanity, we understand that the language that God uses to talk to us is also common to us all. Just like dance, the spiritual language with which we talk to God is not arbitrary but is based on our very being, and only through learning this language can understand what God is saying to us. But more than a group of people the church is a body, a body of complimentary parts with Christ as her head.
That means we are each unique, so we also have an individual, or personal, relationship with Christ. This relationship does not compete against our communal role but works in harmony with it. Our unique role starts with and builds on our vocation (which we share in common with some others) and incorporates our unique gifts to become the perfect part of the body of Christ that God made us to be.
To do this requires discipline, virtue, self-knowledge and a prayer ife. Every person is called to some extent to be a mystic, to experience contemplative prayer. In contemplative prayer we experience union with God- oneness with God. The kind of oneness imaged by a husband and wife in the one flesh union, the kind of oneness imaged by the leader and the follower on the dance floor. St. John of the Cross tells us that the surest sign of union of God is not what we feel, but doing his will; which is something dance teaches us.
The Music: The Holy Spirit
When a couple gets ready to dance they wait for the music, and once it comes on it tells them the how of their dance. If it's a waltz they will have a smooth and flowing dance. If it's a salsa it will be staccato and defined. The Holy Spirit does the same thing. He prepares us to encounter Christ. If Jesus tells us the what, when and where of the dance then the Holy Spirit tells us the how of our relationship with Jesus. How we will speak and act and dress flow from the music the Holy Spirit puts into our lives. This includes the the gifts and the fruits of the Spirit such as peace, joy and fortitude.
Think about an army marching into battle. In old days that would sing battle hymns which would give them fortitude-steadfastness and bravery. Think of a party, when people play upbeat muisc to bring joy. Think of a mother who calms he child by singing a lullaby, which brings a child peace. Music, which is a symbol and even an expression of the Spirit, brings these gifts in a natural way. A particular song may bring several gifts at different times in a song. The Holy Spirit is the soundtrack of our lives; if we understand how to listen to Him he will bring these gifts in a supernatural way as he plays the song of our dance. He provides the perfect gifts to complement the lead of Christ in our lives.
In our relationship with God, the Father reaches out to us through the Son and the Spirit. Just as the follower listens to both the leader and the music at the same time, so too the saint must listen to Christ and the Spirit at the same time.