Waltzing with God

Leah Libresco, a former atheist and a fellow writer at Patheos, describes in America Magazine how she came to appreciate praying the rosary:

Since I’m a convert, learning to pray was basically like learning a foreign language…. [O]ne prayer I struggled with was the Rosary. It was the most stereotypically Catholic prayer I could think of, but it was hard for me to progress through the beads and Hail Marys without getting frustrated or self-conscious.

I kept worrying about whether I was getting enough out of the prayer or thinking hard enough about the meditations. … What helped me make peace with the prayer was thinking about my experiences learning ballroom dance.

When I started learning to waltz, I spent a lot of time just practicing the basic waltz step—the same kind of endless repetition as the Hail Marys of the Rosary. The reason I was supposed to keep practicing was so that my feet could keep the rhythm, no matter what.

Since I’m a follow when I dance, I don’t need to have learned every step to be able to dance it—usually, if I have a good enough connection with my partner and a reasonable grasp of the basic, I can follow my lead through more complicated steps than I could execute alone, since their motion leads me into the next place I should be.

I wound up thinking of the rosary as my chance to follow a “basic step” for prayer. My goal wasn’t to produce epiphanies about the lives of Christ and Mary, but to fall into God’s rhythm and to be ready to move if he led me.

I love her image! Today I will imagine that my daily prayer, even when it does not produce consolations or insights, is about falling into God’s rhythm.

Read more of Leah’s journey at http://arrivingatamen.com/.

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Tim Muldoon
Tim Muldoon is the author of a number of books, including The Ignatian Workout and Living Against the Grain, and teaches in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College.

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