I had been watching too many of those romantic European period pieces, the ones where the ball is the make-or-break moment of the whole movie. Somehow the courting couple has the most intimate conversation of their lives while switching partners, stepping perfectly in line, and twirling across the dance floor, the woman in a four-foot-wide hoop dress. The artistry of the moment sets the stage, but it is the dynamic between the couple and the space between them that compels me to watch. That is the intimacy I crave.
After four months of not being able to attend Mass in person, I stepped into the sanctuary of St. John’s at Creighton. My heart exploded with a sense of being home. Sun flowed through the stained glass. Easter flowers adorned the altar and smelled heavenly. Friends waved and air hugged as I had to remain socially distant. The music of “Glory to God” echoed through the transoms. This was more beautiful than any 1700s castle ballroom in Europe.
Closing my eyes in prayer, I felt one of the deepest and most shocking consolations of my life. Jesus was standing right in front of me. He held out his hand and said, “Dance with me.” I’m not sure if it was a command or a request, but I knew there was no way I would ever refuse. All that intimacy that I craved from the movies was there in his intense gaze into my eyes. The beauty of the sanctuary fell away, and all that remained was Jesus and me, staring into each other’s eyes and dancing. It wasn’t about romance but about intimacy. Not another word was imagined between us. There was no need.
I go back to that moment of pure consolation to steady myself during tough times. I think about the reading of Peter jumping out of the boat and walking on water to get to Jesus. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he could do the impossible. But when he started to focus on the waves and the fears, he lost his way. I need to keep staring into those eyes of Love while I twirl around the dance floor.
I thought about the Two Standards reflection in the Spiritual Exercises, in which one discerns under which flag to march. For St. Ignatius, the image centered on a military campaign. For me it was an invitation to dance or stay seated against the wall and just be a spectator of the festivities.
A favorite prayer encourages, “Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” That has definitely been true for my 30-year marriage. But falling in love with God, not just praising God or praying to God, is a different level of intimacy that almost feels giddy. This gentleman has been patiently courting me for 53 years! As I dance through my day, we take a few steps forward, a few steps back. I switch partners for a bit. I miss a few steps. But I focus on coming back to his lead, his touch, his gaze. The only possible response in this life is, “Of course, I will dance with You!”
Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash.
Beautiful! I’ve felt Jesus’ invitation to dance too. Intimacy is exactly the word. That and perhaps freedom. The freedom from self in receiving his love for me and his delight in me and the freedom to love in return with no sense of inadequacy or fear of rejection.
Nice report of a meaningful encounter. God be praised.
Imaginations. Mine is not so colorful. I go to Jesus every day, almost every day. Just the two of us face to face wearing green and black flannel CPO jackets outside a grayish shed. “in your presence, Jesus.” and I listen. It was good for you to share your intimate encounter with the Lord. But I guess the essential experience to my almost daily encounter is that “I listen.” He’s there for me. “What do you want me to do, dear Lord?” And He answers.
How beautiful! Just recently had a very special moment with God while in adoration in the Cathedral in Barcelona. The moment was so special that it brought tears of joy. But the real beauty of the moment was that my husband of 57 years was also so moved and we could “ dance” with the same partner at the same time while there. Both of our comments as we came out was”surely the presence is in this place”
Thrilled to read this Pat. Just like Lisa’s encounter with Jesus i am encouraged by your and husband’s encounter with Jesus too.
Thank you dear Pat.
“This gentleman has been patiently courting me.” The story of my life. I have nothing else to say. I have said to you before, somehow you know my soul. God ALWAYS bless you.
What a beautiful imagine – Jesus holding out his hand to me and asking me to dance with him. Of course I will, how could I refuse!!
What a timely message! You brought it all together for me in a simple, far-reaching concept, “I crave intimacy” with my God. Thank you for helping me sweep aside the blizzard of words swirling in my head and seeing the bright sunshine once again!
This reflection touched my heart…thank you!
Thank you! I’m so happy you are well. I needed this reflection, it touched my heart and soul.
Powerful! Thanks for sharing this very special encounter with us. Hearing about the faith experience of others increases our own faith
Really found This insight really helpful. Thanks for sharing it.