I picked up a book of daily meditations by Richard Rohr on the weekend and committed to reading one a day. I am often far from disciplined in my spiritual life and so when I find something that might keep me on track for a while I grab it. I've only been reading the meditations for three days, but am convinced that this book found me.
Yesterday's reading took me back a few years to a retreat I attended. The group was challenged to spend some time reflecting on what our soul space looked like. This soul space is the "place" that, at the best of times, is filled with God or the Spirit and, at the most difficult times, seems empty. At the time I imagined my soul space as a large ballroom. The space was largely unused as I sat quietly, and somewhat comfortably in the centre. My realisation during this reflection was that a ballroom is made for dancing. I began to see my relationship with the divine as a dance that filled that big, empty ballroom taking me uncomfortably out to the edges of the space.
Yesterday's meditation from Richard Rohr was about a different kind of knowing God. He says, "God becomes more a verb than noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. There is Someone dancing with you, and you no longer need to prove to anyone that you are right, nor are you afraid of mistakes." What a beautiful image!
I can't say that I am the most comfortable dancer. It often takes a few drinks at a wedding to get me on the dance floor, but once I'm there I enjoy it. Dancing is about the experience, the relationship, being vulnerable and being held. This is how I view my relationship with God. God is not in the audience watching and waiting for my mistakes, but there dancing with me and part of the movement.
The reading for today was about prayer. This is another part of my spiritual life that I often struggle with. I have often been cynical about prayer and how it can be used abusively in churches. Part of my job each week is to choose or write prayers that connect with the people in my congregations. So often, words seem inadequate. I am far more comfortable lighting a candle, dropping a rock in water or sitting in silence. These days my personal prayer life has no words. I sit in quiet. I close my eyes and soak up the warmth of the sun. I watch intently for the signs of God around me. I listen. I gaze on God and allow God to gaze on me.
Richard Rohr comments that we sometimes make prayer "a pious exercise that somehow makes God happy, or a requirement for entry into heaven." Maybe this is why I often feel cynical about prayer. He goes on to say, "It is much more like practicing heaven now." What could be more heavenly than dancing with God, no words needed. In this ballroom there is freedom and life. In the dance there is passion and spirit. In the movement there is rhythm and intimacy. How would it be to imagine our spiritual journey not as linear with a goal up ahead, but as a dance circling and turning within us?