Fighting Nerves by Dancing with Jesus

ballroom dancing - image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

I struggled to pray as my mind bounced from one distraction to another. The biggest distraction was preparations for a trip to El Salvador with the Sisters of Providence. I was surely forgetting to pack something; I hadn’t talked to the travel nurse; I should have studied Spanish more. I replayed people’s warnings about traveling to distant missions. Would I get dysentery?

I turned to the Gospels for inspiration and entered the story as St. Ignatius would recommend. I found myself at a wedding for a couple I didn’t know in Cana. I heard music and saw people dancing; people were laughing and happy.

El Salvador and the unknown days ahead were still on my mind, but I suddenly found myself as Jesus’ plus-one. That man loved a party.

And Jesus asked me to dance.

Surprised, I reached up to take his outstretched hand. He guided me along a path to the dance floor, and I suddenly felt glad I accepted the invitation to the feast.

He started with some simple moves, but I began to feel nervous. “Jesus,” I said, “I’m having trouble following. I don’t know the steps!”

He smiled. “Don’t worry. Let me lead.”

I closed my eyes and imagined Ginger Rogers dancing intricate patterns backwards in Fred Astaire’s arms. (Forget that we’re dancing like ballroom dancers in the first century.) Jesus swept me around, and I stepped along as best I could.

El Salvador popped into my head. I cannot see where Jesus is leading me. I can only trust.

The music slowed; I relaxed in Jesus’ arms. The song was a take on Psalm 23: “Even though I dance in a distant valley or in El Salvador, I fear nothing, for Jesus guides my steps.”

His hand on my waist gently led me in a new step, a new direction. “Jesus, where are we going?”

“Trust me. It’s going to be fun.”

We discussed my life as we danced. Jesus explained it’s a gift, wherever it turns. Even when my life party is running out of wine, it’s going to be great.

The next song I heard was, “Come to the feast…God will provide for all that we need…”

When Jesus asked how I was enjoying the party, I replied, “It is not what I expected.”

He laughed. His laugh made me laugh too.

When the music slowed, Jesus said, “Come with me. There are some people I want you to meet.”

I thought about the people and possible perils I might face in El Salvador, but Jesus reassured me. I realized that if I prioritized staying safe, I would stay home.

Jesus left me at his mother’s side. I felt relieved to sit with Mary, since I didn’t know anyone at the party. Jesus returned with people who were poor, cranky, broken, needy, and frail. All hesitation and fear about the pending immersion experience disappeared. “Jesus, I’m ready for the next dance!”

“Soon,” he replied. “Sit with my friends while I visit with other guests.”

During the nine-day immersion trip, whenever something unsafe or unexpected happened, I feared nothing. I saw Jesus laughing and sweeping me into another turn on the dance floor.

Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay.

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Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this beautiful reflection. It allowed me to imagine all the possibilities that exist when we allow Jesus in to lead.

  2. Wow! I never thought of dancing with Jesus, but he must have danced for sure at weddings.
    This is something to always keep in mind when the going gets rough.

  3. Truly an inspired image! Love it! Thank you. I often invite Jesus into my home for morning coffee. We sit together and chat.

  4. Loretta, thanks, thanks and ever thanks for the reflection and inspiration. You have made believing so simple.
    Roger

  5. Inspiring and beautiful. Thanks Loretta. One can imagine when Jesus was small and growing, his mother Mary might have danced with her son as most mothers do with their tiny kids. Whilst at work, even Joseph could have participated by providing the beats with his hammer, chisel, saw, and other instruments used at his atelier.

  6. Loretta, thank you. This is so moving and meaningful.
    I once heard someone talking about Jesus dancing with his mother at that wedding, but the thought of you ( or me?) having that experience is just wonderful. And then to be able to sit safely with his mother …
    This is a meditation that I will return to.
    Thank you so much 💙🙏xx

    • Peggy, I never thought about Jesus dancing with his mother! How precious that image is. I remember looking into my son’s eyes during the mother-son dance at his wedding. The love there was filled with joy.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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