I will admit, that even before the obvious, the two things I missed the most during my 15 years as a Buddhist nun were dancing and blue jeans. I love to dance and there is nothing more fundamentally fabulous than a great pair of jeans. Today I reflect on dancing as a doorway to Divine Love.
As long as I can remember, hours alone, at home, lights dim, candles, sliding into contemporary rhythms, I would sail away. Out, dancing in the clubs. Sunday afternoon tea dance my favorite, jeans and a white tank, boots with a heel, I love to dance in a heel. The music, the lights, I could sweat for hours on that dance floor. I am glad to be dancing again. It is my chill. Senses alive, body and spirit communing through music. And when there are others there, the collective energy generated is a palpable force of joy and celebration, a place we can meet in our common humanity.
It is ballroom dancing that has captured my imagination these days. It is a dance of partnership, a new dance for a new time in my life. I am learning to lead. The role of the lead represents a chivalrous ideal appealing profoundly to my Sapphic nature*. The lead provides a frame for the lady. If well done, she will turn and bend, with grace and ease. She will appear to float around the floor. It is the lead that shines the light. It is the lady that shines. A powerful gift offered to another, beautiful, like poetry. I dream of dancing, dancing her around the floor, offering her a moment to bask in the beauty and the wonder that is her alive in the world.
Beyond these moments of magic, I look to my everyday, where do I make way for others to shine? Where am I generous in a way that offers so much yet takes so little? Not just my “peeps,” the one’s I am close to or that I like. Or of course those folks we need to know or hope to know. What about each person that finds themselves in my orbit? What if there was something that I could offer that would let them shine? Let them see themselves more powerfully, to feel into their strengths? What if I looked with “the eyes of God?” Looking past the layers of reaction or fear, mine and theirs, acknowledging their beauty, their worth. Then, quietly, gently reflecting back what I see.
I look to the great masters as my role models. Committed in the fullness of their hearts to living in compassion, what would they do? Time after time they hold the space for others to flower. They offer us the opportunity to see the beauty that is our own face reflected back to us through them. Can I do that? I know it can be done. And I know it can change a life forever.
Has there been a moment when someone has seen your truth, has seen in you the things you wished were true but feared might not be? I have received this gift many times. It has changed my life more than once, ordinary people loving in extraordinary ways. I had that experience recently and it was truly empowering. My fears relaxed. Nothing had changed really, just that I had been accepted in my self-perceived imperfection, someone reflecting to me my strengths as they see them, having room for me exactly as I am. A gift given, a gift received, beautiful.
What if, in each moment, we were to look for our common humanity in those we meet? What if we looked past their style, their presentation, past the awkwardness, the devices we use at times to protect ourselves. What if we look with our Wisdom eye, through their eyes, into the heart? What if we were to take a firm step in the direction of seeing the light in everyone? No matter how hard we have to look. We all just want to be happy, many of us just have a strange way of going about it!
What if we got really radical and just refused to judge, to criticize, or to condemn at all? A very dear friend of mine has begun a movement. He invites people to take a vow that they will remove the very acts of criticism and judgment from their behavioral vocabulary, from their speech, from their thoughts. You will hear more about this. He is brilliant. His work is brilliant. It is catching on like wildfire.
I caught on to my inner critic and her destructive antics this past year, a brilliant coming together of insight and awareness. She is part of my lineage, an old deep habit that has been shared through the generations. She had been hard at work for most of my 50 years, building momentum, strengthening her voice, criticizing, complaining and condemning. The habit insidious, hiding in plain sight, she wrecked havoc. I believe our criticism and our judgment wrecks havoc all over our lives, all over our world. I believe it is a divisive force that accentuates our differences and gives us a false sense of self-importance. I am committed to something different.
I invite you to look and see where this might be showing up in your life, in your thinking, in your conversation. Then, just stop. Stop criticizing, complaining and condemning. Shine your light, illuminate others and all our lives will be that much brighter. There is something powerful, something loving to giving someone back to themselves uplifted.
Then we dance, maybe together, maybe each to our own rhythm, all a beautiful expression of spirit alive in the world. I continue to learn to dance, the dance of the body, of the mind, of the heart, the dance of life. Come, dance with me.
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*Sappho, poetess of the Isle of Lesbos (600 BC)