Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thoughts on a Dancing God

This morning as I sat down to do my morning reading I was struck with a funny thought. In Chapter 6 of Henri Nouwen's Spiritual Direction, one of the reflection questions was "How do you picture God?" A seemingly normal question, and a priest once told Nouwen it was THE question. So, I sat down to think on this and oddly my mind went to Mia Michaels. Before I get into more of my thoughts on how I see God, take a gander at this piece that Michaels choreographed:


This isn't really even my favorite piece she has done, but the imagery involved goes a little more with where this post is headed. As I closed my eyes to meditate on God, to begin to answer how I pictured God, I simply saw this dancer. This dancer that went about singing and painting, and throughout the process creating. In other words, I saw this creative, emotive God that went about the process in great artistry. And the understanding of what I saw was this, God is beautiful, so why would the processes of God not also be beautiful. 

Now, I know that some people with a more utilitarian view of God may take issue with this. Engineers, scientists and others who tend to view things more orderly and mathematically may have come to see God as this very functional being that perfectly situated Earth where it could sustain life, and the human body so that it is perfectly functional. And I am down with that really. But what it made me realize is that as we are all made in God's image, the ways that we view Him/Her will be quite different. Also, the season we are in may change the way we view God.

I think that last thought has frequently paralyzed me in the past. Changing views on the eternal God who never changes makes me a flake, doesn't it? This morning that thought finally kind of lifted. Why would God, a multifaceted being always present Himself to me in the same way in every season of my life? If I am broken, in need of grace, mercy and compassion, why would God present Himself as harsh judge? If I am full of myself and blind to how my actions are causing others to suffer, why would God present myself as a doting mother?

 This is my favorite dance of Michaels' I have seen.

That is not to say that God changes, or that God is indeed flighty and insecure. Indeed that cannot be so. It also doesn't mean that we conjure up God in the image of what we need (want) in a given moment. I think anyone with college loans can attest that God isn't a banker who delivers a check anytime you want it! Also, anyone who has been seriously injured in a sporting accident or car wreck can attest that God isn't a magic fairy who magically heals all wounds at once just because we are inconvenienced. (Though I will not dismiss the possibility of God erasing debt or radically healing someone! These things happen.)

What it means is that God is other. God is not human. God is not restricted to the things that we can do. So creation of earth and human life need not only be the work of a can also be the work of a dancer...or a teacher...or a craftsman...or a farmer...or whoever it is that we need. Because God is all of those things. We have teachers and craftsmen and farmers and singers and doctors because we are reflections of God.

So this morning, I am thankful for God showing herself through a reflection of someone like Mia Michaels.* God is creative, and beautiful. And the God that is reflected through Michaels beckons us, the children of God, to watch this beautiful intricate dance and then in turn join in that dance. And in doing so we do the job of following Him.#

So, though not the most Orthodox of posts, I think it goes to show part of the process I am going through these days. God as dancer is not something 18 year old James would have grappled with, and may not be something 63 year old James is into, but in this season of life it is God showing James who He is...and I am.

* For those of you concerned with a feminine pronoun attributed to God, I would encourage a look at the original Hebrew throughout Old Testament Scripture, particularly Isaiah and Psalms. Also, the word from which we get Spirit is feminine. 

# For those of you concerned I rely so heavily on masculine pronouns for God...I get you, but I'm still in process and it reflects the traditions I come from.

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