I smiled as I watched my daughter and her husband dancing cheek to cheek, enjoying a rare “private” moment. Suddenly their son, Freddy, practically flew from his table to jump into their arms. Their twin daughters, Gemma and Ellie, quickly followed suit and were soon pulling on their parents’ sleeves, begging to be included into this circle of love. Laura and Zach automatically caught the girls into their arms. The original dance of two became a sweeping embrace of five, with smiles, laughter, joy, and giggles on the faces of all.
The Trinity, defined as the perichoresis, describes a dance of pure love and energy flowing between the three divine persons. This divine dance, God’s pure love, naturally creates and then seeks relationship with the created. The embrace of love between the husband and wife naturally widens to welcome the gift of a baby. The circle of love within a family naturally reaches out to neighbors and strangers.
Jesus’ final words commission us to go into the world and make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey everything commanded. The call to discipleship is an invitation into this divine love. Baptism sweeps the human person into this eternal dance and we are caught up into God’s arms as beloved children.
As children, this dance provides a sense of joy and security. We trust God to lead our steps –each fresh and exciting. As we grow older—more independent—we may be tempted to break free and create our own dance steps. Or at times we may feel stifled and constrained by the fox trot, when we desire the romance of the waltz or the excitement of the tango. But if we continue to follow God’s lead, the increasingly spirited dance will carry us into places we never imagined. The dance may get red hot as we confront power, violence, and injustice or dark and sultry as we confront social woes at the edges of the dance floor. Either way, our dance partner will hold us close, grant us directions, and whisper words of affection.
The Spirit will lead the community of disciples into places most in need of God’s love. Soon we will be dancing in the slums of Bangkok, the housing projects of Detroit, the immigration courts of Phoenix, the veteran’s hospital of D.C., the crisis pregnancy centers of Minneapolis, the prisons of Anamosa, the nursing homes of Cedar Falls, and the Hospitality House of Waterloo. The dance may get fast and furious, wild at times, but we can trust God to catch us if we slip and fall. This dance, the dance of God’s love, is the great adventure of life—where our lives find a meaning and purpose much larger than ourselves.
Jesus says there is only one requirement to participate in the dance: “This I command you: love one another” (John 15:17). As disciples, we are to deny self, widen our circle, welcome and include others. The original dance of the Trinity has become a sweeping embrace of humanity. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son …” (John 3:16). Zach and Laura may have initially enjoyed the dance between just the two of them, but the embrace of five became much more than one plus one.
First published in 2012. Since then Johnny has joined Freddy, Gemma, and Ellie into the dance of their family life! Publishing again as this reflection is one of my favorites!!!
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.