THE DANCE TO PENTECOST
As we prepare for Pentecost, for many of us our lives are humming a repetitive tune of a day filled with work, family and the all too familiar daily grind. If you relate, then I hope this article encourages you to a new openness, to hear a new tune and to feel a new excitement as Pentecost approaches.
Rhythm is a dancer
I am particularly fond of the Liturgical Office of Readings for Holy Saturday morning – a time when the Church is in the shadow of death. We have celebrated Jesus sharing a final meal with His friends, we lament His suffering and death and we await the Cosmic event of the Resurrection.
From the beginning of time, the Universe has moved to the pulse of God creating. The Cosmos is not stagnant, we are not stagnant. The discoveries in Space, Science, Medicine, to name a few, reveals to us a God working through and in our world. The Catholic Church has developed a liturgy to assist us to dance to this living rhythm in both remembrance and participation. After Resurrection, the Divine tempo builds to Pentecost where the Holy Spirit’s tune wraps around us, transforming us (if we are willing) in its melody.
You’re probably wondering how an ancient homily for Holy Saturday have anything to do with the anticipated crescendo of Pentecost. It does. The interval of Holy Saturday gives us an opportunity to pause our attachment to the past and be receptive to future possibilities. Although the liturgy for this Holy Day points to Resurrection there is a particular quote which, to me, also applies to Pentecost and which I find to be an invitation to personal preparation for the descent of the Holy Spirit. This ancient passage gives an astounding insight into where many of us have settled, when the unknown Author of the Year 1600 wrote:
“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you.
Through Baptism in the Holy Spirit, we are invited to the dance floor of the Upper room. ,We recognize the music yet how many of us really expect the Holy Spirit to take our hand and sweep us off our feet?
Pentecost is just that: it is an invitation that moves us into the waiting arms of God, leading us from our own dance floors to the movement of a sacred dance.
Here we swing away in Trust even as we order our steps in complete surrender, waiting for His lead as a new song unfolds.
The School I attended holds a Marian Ball every year. As always, we practiced the dance steps diligently. On the big night we would usher in with euphoric excitement as boys would line up on one side of the dance hall, and the girls on the other. When the dance was announced the boys would rush forward to grab the hand of the most popular and prettiest of girls and lead them on to the dance floor. Inevitably there were always the last few left (myself included), who while being led to the floor knew we were ones ‘reluctantly chosen’.
Can we approach Pentecost the same way? That the Holy Spirit will rush to choose others but will be reluctant to choose me because I am not as valuable? Negative experiences can lead to small ‘deaths’ within us. These small deaths rob our spirit of life, they cause us to stumble, to miss the true life giving rhythm. As we grow in maturity we realize that even the ‘pretty’ girls struggle in their dance and they too experience their own small deaths in ways unknown to us. How fittingly therefore that the resounding song echoed on Holy Saturday from 1600 years ago continues to be sung….”all who are held in bondage – come forth….Rise up….I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell……you who were made in My image…..Leave this place….for you are in Me and I am in you!”
The Resurrection assures us that Pentecostal possibilities have been prepared for us. The Divine Music is forever playing, even when we fail to hear it or choose not to listen to its melody or to join in its dance.
The darkness that our self-destructive thoughts can evoke can be enlightened by the promises of Pentecost transformation.
Even when we give up on ourselves God never gives up on us. And therefore, now is always the opportune time to begin.
No matter what our lives have been up to this point, Pentecost promises us that our future is forever pregnant with wonderful new possibilities. St Francis de Sales said “Every moment comes to us pregnant with a command from God, only to pass on and plunge into eternity, there to remain forever what we have made of it”.
Isn’t that amazing? Every moment of every day is a gift, given to us by God. The question is how will we respond to it? What will we do with it? Will it bear fruit before plunging into eternity forever? Will we taste heaven here and now?
I recently read a quote by G.K. Chesterton “Learn to look at things familiar until they look unfamiliar again”. Familiarity can abort the pregnant moments which fill our lives. We are rarely aware of moments, let alone the life promises within them, as we busily go about our day, usually on auto pilot. We plan and think we know how the day will progress – it’s the same as any other day. We order our coffee and leave without thanking the Barista for their service. We greet familiar faces in the office or school ground without connecting to them. We work, prepare a meal, watch TV, go to sleep and get up the next day and repeat it all over again.
This familiarity leaves no room for newness, for surprise, for joy, for Pentecostal promises to be born. This familiarity closes our ears to the Divine tune and shackles our feet in the Divine Dance. Pentecost invites us to look at things familiar until they look unfamiliar again. Pentecost transforms these familiar moments and brings to birth the new life within them and releases within us the joy and wonder of a child fully awake; a child as if seeing and experiencing a world around them for the first time.
Sister, as we await the Celebration of Pentecost 2021, it’s time to wake up, arise from your sleep, leave the familiar places and move in to the Divine Dance with freedom, joy and trust. Choose to trust Him, that He orders your steps to His perfect rhythm even as He gives you joy to burst forth into a new song.
You can dance again! Happy Feast!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Brereton lives in Tasmania, Australia with her husband David of 40 years. Ann’s ministry involves over 40 years in leadership positions including being the first woman National Chairperson of the Australian National Service Committee. She also served as a member of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) situated at the Vatican. She is a mother to 4 sons and grandmother to 6 granddaughters, has lived as a Missionary in Uganda and travelled extensively as a Conference Speaker.