Last night I taught a short TOD theology segment at a parish, and afterward one of the students, who is also a friend, came up and talked to me about his experience. He's been around TOD for a few years and he's been attending the Sunday dance lessons pretty faithfully. He told me that he really enjoyed the dance lessons and believes it's a good thing for parishes to host and promote them. He thinks what I do with TOD is a good thing. But, he told me, it just doesn't resonate with him. What he does on the dance floor does not connect with the theology, and he felt that he would always lack that connection. When he is on the dance floor, he's just thinking about himself- usually where his feet are supposed to go. He said he was probably an aberration.
I told him that actually he was probably right on track and quite normal. When I am dancing, I can focus totally on the music and on my partner and forget myself. When I am dancing, I can have a conversation with my partner. When I am dancing I am often in prayer. But, I told him, when a person first learns to dance, none of these things happen. They can't happen. The new dancer cannot not think about themselves. And their partner is not someone to converse with- they are a distraction and a cause of confusion. This is all part of the learning process.
My friend then said it sounds like TOD was something for intermediate and higher dancers. That was a great observation. Until one is skilled enough to forget about oneself and listen fully to the music and to ones partner, the Theology of the Body is still only in the head. It's when the body starts acting in line with the Theology of the Body that the Theology of the Body makes sense to both body and spirit.
So where are these intermediate and higher dancers in the Church? The truth is there are very few of us. This is why it's important to teach people how to dance before we do more in depth Theology.