|Donna Rougeux ARCWP
at Gethsemane Monastery where Thomas Merton is buried
Dance and Talk At The Same Time
By Donna Rougeux
We are shaped by what other people think of us. There are rules in our families and in our communities that shape us. This is a good thing when our culture shapes us with life-giving and healthy influences of encouragement and nurturing. This is devastating when we are shaped by those who want to be in control and are motivated by hate, fear and greed.
I have always wanted to learn ballroom dancing. I took a free lesson last year and I was amazed what happened in that 45 minute lesson. The instructor gave me a pattern to follow and I focused intently on the pattern but as I was trying to focus on the pattern the instructor started asking me questions so as to learn more about me. I told him that I couldn't talk because I would mess up the pattern that I was trying to remember. To my amazement before the 45 minute lesson was over I was able to talk and dance at the same time!
In today’s gospel Jesus breaks the pattern of the faithful Pharisees by healing on the Sabbath. In a way Jesus is teaching the Pharisees to dance and talk at the same time. The Pharisees seemed to think the rules about the Sabbath were more important than healing the bent over woman. The Pharisees could only focus on the pattern. They could not talk and dance at the same time. When rules and patterns dominate our thinking we are unable to dance or to live fully and well.
The woman in today’s gospel was bent over and imprisoned by a sprit that kept her from living fully and well. The oppressive powers of an evil spirit kept her eyes toward the ground and she was unable to be who God created her to be. It seems that she was being oppressed by a culture that wanted to control her using hate, fear and greed. This kept her bent over for eighteen years.
The passage from Jeremiah is the call story of this prophet. Jeremiah tells God that he is too young to be called. Jeremiah is afraid of this call and tells God that he will not have the words he needs to be a prophet. God touches Jeremiah’s lips and encourages him to let go of his fear so that God can work through him. God even tells Jeremiah that he will face great challenges and destruction but God will deliver him.
The call to live our lives to the fullest in a way of becoming our true selves often involves a struggle. We have to learn the patterns but not be controlled by them. We have to speak the words that God gives us so we can be part of bringing the kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. The great news is we are not alone in learning to live fully and well and in answering our call from God to be our true self. Jesus touches our wounds and heals us so that we can stand up and praise God the way the woman did.
God says to Jeremiah, “They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.”
What evil spirit is keeping you bent down? What call does God have for you? Are you, like Jeremiah telling God that you are unworthy of the call? Does it feel like the culture around you is encouraging you or destroying you? Are you trapped by trying to follow certain patterns or can you dance and talk at the same time?
Hear the words that God says to Jeremiah and that God says to you:
“They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.”
Be healed by the touch of Jesus so that you can live fully and well the life you are created to live. If you stand up like the woman in the Gospel and allow Gods words to be your words like Jeremiah then you will be able to talk and dance at the same time. You will be free to be who God created you to be. Trust God who will deliver you. Stand up to the evil spirits so that you can praise God and be used by God to bring the kindom to earth as it is in heaven.