Often on a journey, geographical or spiritual, I am tempted to say, “This is so beautiful; let’s just stay right here forever!” Santa Fe was one of those spots for me on this latest journey. At the top of a hill is the Museum Plaza, surrounded by striking Native American sculpture, encompassing a red and green brick labyrinth. Blue sky. warm air, a blending of divine and human beauty, good food, and friendly companionship, all made it seem like a foretaste of heaven. Surely this is as far as I need to go!
I remembered other stories where the beauty and accomplishment felt like an invitation to stay there forever. The three disciples closest to Jesus in encountering the glorious and exhausting experience of the Transfiguration floated a plan by which they could all dwell in the the reflection of that glory forever. But then, there was Moses at the beginning of Deuteronomy, in which he is gathering up the final pieces of his part of the wilderness wandering, and tells the gathered ones at Mt. Horeb: You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Resume your journey…” (Deut. 1: 6).
The invitation here in New Mexico came from a bronze statue by Allan Houser, a 20th Century Warm Springs Chirichua Apache sculptor. His sculpture called “Ready to Dance” reminds me that as long as we have life and breath, we are to keep moving on our journey with the Holy no matter where we are. Dancing is an elusive activity for me, but I am drawn to the focus and intentionality captured in the attention of this woman, with the poise for action implicit in the sway of her long robe. Many people of Spirit love to dance, and Mechtild of Magdeburg is my favorite:
Woman, you must adorn yourself! maiden you ought to dance merrily, dance like my elected one! Dance, like the noblest, loveliest, richest queen!” I cannot dance, O God, unless You lead me. If you will that I leap joyfully, then You must be the first to dance and to sing! Then, and only then will I leap for love. Then will I soar from love to knowledge, from knowledge to fruition, from fruition to beyond all human sense. And there I will remain and circle forevermore.”
It is an invitation to keep moving toward and with the Holy One.
Yet, I am often tempted to stop moving–at something glorious and beautiful, well-nigh perfect or something catastrophic or something too baffling for words, or just because I am weary, I feel as if in the words of the young, “I am so over it.” I am done. The woman ready to dance assures me that it is not over until it is over–there is Mystery to pursue, love to be shared, hope to be passed on, praise to be offered, acts of justice and mercy to be administered. Withe the wave of her robe, she signals me to keep on dancing to the rhythm of the Spirit. And in Truth I know that there are more miles to go, there are more songs to be sung, more dances to be offered. The comfortable place of beauty is not always my permanent abiding place. In the two weeks left of this liturgical year, I need to keep moving along the path that lies before me. In the United States we will be celebrating with Thanksgiving the blessings of the Holy One, then sharing them in tangible ways with those who feel so far removed from those blessings. And then as a Church we celebrate the Reign of Christ, not here yet, but on its way. I look to see the ways in which I am to prepare the way for God’s intended rule, clearing the way for God’s justice and mercy to be available to all . Dances to dance, songs to sing, acts of mercy to be accomplished—the road lies ahead–I am to keep moving!
These words beckon me: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. (Song of Solomon 2: 10) So I keep moving…I have come so far…and there is more to discover.