Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In the Stillness of the Dance ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In the Stillness of the Dance ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

It was not your typical ballet. No tutus. No violins. No toe shoes. The orchestra consisted of a small ensemble seated onstage playing very pensive Japanese music on traditional Japanese instruments. A dancer wearing a long ceremonial robe walked slowly, very, very slowly to the center of the stage and dropped his robe to the floor.

Half an hour later, the tempo remained the same. I kept thinking, "Any minute now they're going to pick up the pace and really start dancing." Finally it dawned on me, "This is it. This is the ballet." I wasn't sure how I felt about that. I was expecting to be wowed by the legendary speed and virtuosity of the New York City Ballet dancers. Instead I was restless and fidgety. And that bothered me more than the unorthodox choreography.

What was going on? I think that my New York City rhythm had hit a wall of stillness and didn't quite know what to make of it. I sat there in the dark, listening to the gentle, wistful music, watching the graceful, yet oh, so controlled dancers, when it occurred to me that perhaps the point of this ballet was not the form, but the quality. Perhaps the intention was not so much to entertain or impress, as to invite the audience to enter a place and a rhythm that were restful and still. I decided that if I could surrender to this gentle, soothing quality, it might be a very healing thing.

It's a lesson that's been reinforced many times in the intervening years: the value of stepping back from the busyness of life just to be still, to pray, to listen, to dwell quietly on the sacred things of life.

Apparently Jesus understood this well. He gave very generously of himself to the people who came to him for help. The Gospels relate that he was often surrounded by crowds of people clinging to him for healing, for counsel, for inspiration. And yet he took long breaks, seeking out solitude, often spending all night in prayer. So in tune was he with the rhythm of Love's regenerating presence that he simply could not be swept away by the press of the crowd, or the urgency of the need. Always calm, always measured, always sure of God's control, he could subdue the most turbulent storm with the words, "Peace, be still. …

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