catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 10 :: 2013.05.10 — 2013.05.23



I’m not a dancer.  That doesn’t mean I never dance, but I rarely dance.  My body just doesn’t speak that language of the Spirit the way others’ bodies do.  Along the way, I think some folks have tried to make me feel guilty about that.  Even St. Augustine says, “O man, learn to dance, or else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you.”  Sometimes I give in and believe that I’m less of a person because I don’t get on the floor.  Other times, I think it’s just who I am, and the angels will probably understand.

I dance occasionally, but I’m not a dancer.

But I am a writer.  And a listener, a friend, a daughter.  These things require moves, too, and listening and letting go.  And, I remember lately as the dirt works its way deeper under my fingernails, I am a gardener, which is not unlike dancing when springtime is the music, and the earth is in the lead.  Each year, the timing and the steps are different and I have to watch closely so as not to step on any toes.  This year, every spring thing is in bloom all at once, but the frost is late, so the tomatoes will have to give the lilacs the stage for a bit.  Now this is the dance that’s truly in my blood: I don’t have any formative memories of my family dancing growing up, but I do remember my dad encouraging me to press my bare feet into the earth to make a trench for carrot seeds in the rectangle of soil we dug out of the back lawn.  From what I remember, the carrots didn’t do so well, but the sensation of earth between my toes gave me garden fever.  I need it.

And I learn some of the same lessons when I’m gardening as when I’m dancing, such as: I prefer structure over free form, but the Spirit moves in the cracks between our carefully ordered steps.  Perhaps the angels could pick up a shovel and weed that patch over there, where the potatoes will go, for I think the delight of discovering wild sorrel and mint is nothing less than the delights of the dance floor — another way of honoring materiality and movement, growth and surprise, joy and connectedness.  Creation’s dance takes all manner of forms.

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