Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Recycled Greenpatch: The "D" Word

Another vintage (well, maybe vintage isn't the most appropriate word) Greenpatch circa 2008: a reprise of my reflections on "Listening to the Music of the Spirit," with updated clips. And one-two-three, one-two and three...

"God is the lead dancer and the soul is the partner completely attuned to the rhythm and patterns set by the partner. she does not lead, but neither does she hang limp like a sack of potatoes." (Thomas Merton, quoted in Listening to the Music of the Spirit: The Art of Discernment, by David Lonsdale: Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1992)

"The thorny issue of discerning God's will is mentioned but not examined. The author is forthright in saying we would "be fools to believe we knew God's will for certain." Yet the sense of seeking the will of God hovers around much of the spiritual journey he maps. Do we pray to find definite guidance, even direction, for the decisions we face? Or do we pray for courage and wisdom to make those decisions for ourselves, and so take the responsibility for the consequences instead of blaming them on God?" (Peta Dunstan in  Church Times review of Deep Calls to Deep: Going further in prayer by David Foster, Continuum, 2008)

As my course moves into a new phase, the 'green' tinge remains, but readers might notice  the not so  much dreaded as ever-fascinating 'D' word moving to the forefront. I've never been one of those people who appear to think that God micromanages one's life down to what colour socks to put on in the morning. However, the tricky issue of maintaining the delicate balance between trusting that God's will will be done and individual responsibility is one that's kept the Greenpatch thinking cap in constant use these last few years.
A friend put me on to Listening to the Music of the Spirit last week, and I'm finding the imagery of  God as the lead dancer in co-operation with the soul really speaks to me, resonating as it does with recent experience. Looking back through old photos (our silver wedding comes up in a few months time) at a rather scared looking younger self being steered up the aisle on the arm of my father - reminds me of the co-operation, trust and teamwork  that's needed in any sort of partnership, especially, as I discovered, if one of you is taller than the other. Beneath the yards of tulle a tug of war was taking place, as I made determined attempts to loose myself from his well-intentioned but rather too firm grip, (think old Victorian portraits a la aspidistra and you'll get the picture), turning what should have been a dignified glide into a sort of hop, skip and jump more often seen in a three-legged race!
Or if you've ever performed that perilous square dancing move the basket, when by supporting themselves with arms round the shoulders of the men, the women should be twirled round in the air. In my (admittedly limited experience) the move generally ends up more like this:
Women who do not want to go flying can a) push down with their elbows, b) keep the basket slow by tripping up the men, c) grab the men round the neck to strangle them or `accidently' digging a thumb in under the ear or d) determinedly lean back. Most `respectable' dance clubs prefer to keep the women under control (which leads to a faster basket); the barn dance crowd likes to show off. I leave it to the women to say whether they want to go flying, and don't do it at all in a crowded room since flying feet are quite heavy weapons.
Armed with this wisdom, I'd like to think that my dance   with God will take on all the purpose, skill, certainty  and championship quality of these people . Sadly, knowing myself only too well, I fear the reality will be more like the scenario here!


  1. Love this! Glad you've recycled it. It's sparked so many thoughts, too many for a comment so there may be a blog post in the offing... And memories of my folk-dancing days!

  2. Glad it's inspired you! I so find it helpful to review my past wanderings every now and then; spiritual as well as physical. I hope all your memories of folk dancing are happy ones...


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