August 6, 2014 The Feast of the Transfiguration
I continue to smile at what happened last week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A group of women three generations strong gathered in one of the most beautiful places in America to pray, play and discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Though many of us were strangers before we arrived, our common thread is that we are all in Christian ministry—with several of the women having ministered to others full time for upwards of thirty years. We spent time worshipping God, praying for one another and offering words of healing, hope and encouragement. During our off time, some took in the rodeo and others went white water rafting. And on our last night together, we danced.
It began over pizza when eight-year-old Chloe, the grandchild of a friend of the retreat host, began to dance to the Disney music playing on the boom box. We all watched in silence then applauded as Chloe demonstrated her dancing skills--flawless moves she had obviously practiced much. Suddenly, our host Katsey disappeared from the room. Moments later, in she pranced wearing a brightly colored wig and an aqua tutu. She was carrying a glitter wand, along with a wig for Chloe and a bag of other costumes. Chloe quickly accepted the invitation to don a wig and cut loose. Then, one by one, we all joined in. We laughed uproariously as each new wig went on, and as costumes came out of the bag and on to various bodies. Before long fifteen women and an eight-year-old girl were wearing wigs, dancing and singing “We Are Family” at the top of our lungs. And a little child had led us.
“Unless you change and become like little children, you will not see the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said (Mt. 18:3). I had come to the retreat feeling more like an old lady than a little girl, burdened with stale grief and distant voices that had been pummeling my peace for weeks. I left with light feet and a light heart, remembering a word I had received from the Lord in prayer a few years ago that I wrote in my journal and have pondered since: “I don’t want you to change, I want you to dance!”
The Lord spoke that word to me during a time of deep interior struggle, when I was longing to change this and that about myself, wishing I could fix my life and myself in so many different ways. But the change God wanted was for me to turn to Him in trust, abandoning myself to Him like a little child—a child free enough to enter His dance.
I better understand what that means today, now that my husband Mark and I are taking dancing lessons together. Dancing with a partner requires trust, intimacy, surrender and freedom—plus self-forgetfulness in allowing oneself to be led. Good dancers are able to take the slightest cue from their partners, and they are able to follow the one who leads, believing they know what they are doing. These same qualities are vital to the spiritual life, and indispensible in the pursuit of “becoming like little children.” Children trust absolutely, and surrender themselves with ease to those whom they trust. They are also quick to enter into spontaneous joy when it presents itself, whether through playing, laughing or dancing.
Where will the little child lead us? To the mountain of the Lord, where there is no harm or ruin—and no burdens that make our feet heavy, so that they drag like dead weight. I found that holy mountain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with a group of dancing women and children. And I hope to find it again and again in the heart of the Father in heaven, who reveals His love and joy--and the rhythm of His dance--to the childlike, young or old.
"A humble and trusting heart…enables us ‘to turn and become like little children’, for it is to‘little children’ that the Father is revealed.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2784- 2785.