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.
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.