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The Path to Mature Spontaneity

To achieve mature spontaneity in the dance there are three broad stages a person goes through. The first is before someone learns to dance; often such people often do not go out on a dance floor unless there are already a bunch of people there, and when dancing are very limited in what they can do, both on their own and especially with a partner.

The second stage is as a novice dancer. Novice dancers in a sense are under the law of the dance, or under its style. Teachers deliberately “put students in a box” so that they can focus on mastering just a few skills at a time. There are some patterns and techniques a novice could dance well in many aspects, but they are limited to what they had been taught and practiced. If a novice deviates from a pattern or style often the result looks and feels bad. Yet at the beginning there was a great joy in learning the rules. Before they could neither speak nor hear, but with training comes the joy of mastery, of connection, of the ability to say something meaningful. The more patterns and techniques (that is rules) that are mastered the better that a dancer gets and the more fun they have. Indeed, one cannot be creative without first being truthful, for every art has its own science which must be mastered. Nor can one be creative without discipline and self-control.

At a certain point there is a transformation to stage three. A dancer begins to rise above the law of dance. It’s often not a clear break- we are constantly entering into this third stage on a broad front. A dancer begins to learn what any given pattern ought to look and feel like, and deviating from known patterns began to result in a new, legitimate patterns. The dancer adapts patterns from one dance to the other and develops an ability to put together elements of the patterns in new ways that are true to the purpose of the style; she understands how to shape the moves and manage the energy and momentum and how to do so in the flow of the dance. The connection is always good. She comes to understand that the rules of dance are based on her spirit and body, working in concert. What makes dance beautiful, musical, comfortable and loving has become an interior part of who they are. In this final sense the spirit and body have become a team, much like in the beginning before the fall.

We see this same progression both in our relationship with God and with each other. Persons who are outside the law of God believe that they have a freedom; they can do what they want when they want. Such people will be horrible at relationship. To leave stage one the saint needs to have an opportunity-the gift, which is grace, spiritual blessings directly from God, and nature, material blessings that indirectly but also ultimately comes from God. The saint also needs to act on that opportunity, which is the response, the choice to enter into prayer (grace) and the choice to communicate with our teachers and guides (nature.) This is why a good spiritual director is so effective, because he tells the saint both how to recognize the gift and to give the proper response.

Once they saint enters under the law it becomes her master, but this is meant to be a temporary situation! It is the process of mastering the law that makes the law her servant, and the saint comes to find freedom. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The process of mastering the law is the process of developing virtue. Having had the law of God written upon her heart the saint is able to relate with excellence with both God and neighbor with this mature spontaneity.

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