Monday, April 26, 2010

Dancing with Broken Bodies

On Saturday I was out in the driveway, rehearsing a dance project for my Liturgical Dance class. The project is to be a dance for Pentecost. I have created a set of red/orange/yellow flags to whirl around as if the Spirit descending in tongues of flame, and I was enraptured by their motion through the air. Looking up at the flags in the early evening light, I neglected my lower appendages, twisted my ankle, and tore a ligament.

The irony in this situation is incredible. I gave a minor speech in class and have been writing a paper on my purpose in the dance project: to display the beauty of the Body of Christ via the unity of dance.
I have several elders of my church in mind, who through hip replacements, arthritis, or plain old deterioration are no longer to participate fully in the liturgy of the church. Our worship involves a choir processional and recessional, and a few cases of standing up and sitting down, but there are elders who cannot participate in even these simple movements. In honor of them, I wanted to choreograph a dance that we could all participate in from any position, whether seated or fully moving around the room. I (as lead dancer) would begin the dance very simply with arm movements, and as the dance progressed I would slowly incorporate more and more of my own body into the motions, until side by side we would have healthy and young bodies dancing freely alongside older and broken bodies, and all in the same spirit lifting our prayers to God.

The thing is, I expected to be the "youthful and energetic body" in this scenario.

Now it seems I will dance my way through my own healing process. Today, I'm doing the arm movements from a chair. In a few days I may do them standing still. By Pentecost I may be able to pick up the fire-flags and let them fill the air with the sound of a mighty wind... but I will probably have a big black plastic boot on my foot as I do so.
Where I thought I was preparing this dance in order to tell OTHER people that they should honor the inherent beauty and dignity in their own bodies, broken though they may be, I suppose I can take a taste of my own medicine, slowly relishing the little bit of motion i DO have in my foot, and perhaps allowing someone else to be the dancer who, with whole and full body (although all of us are in some way broken) takes our prayers into the flags, the flames of the Spirit. It doesn't matter who carries our prayers to God; they are carried, by any vessel no matter how broken.

“...we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” (2 Cor 4:7).
After my recent humblingexperience of emptiness (see: preaching) ... I figure I ought to trust the process.


  1. Isn't it great how God always uses things that we think are bad or inconvenient to teach us?

  2. you know what? "great" wasn't the word I had in mind. ha! but thanks for the encouragement! XD