Chaplain’s Letter October: Ballroom Dancing

Dear Friends in Christ,

Last month I was asked by a ballroom dance club in Utrecht – USDV U Dance, to write an article on the virtues of dance for a publication in which they are asking representatives of different religions for their thoughts.  It seemed a little crazy for me to write about this, given that, when it comes to dancing, I have two left feet!  But here is part of the article I wrote for them.

“Ballroom dance, being a communal act, where there is a reciprocity and exchange between those who engage in it, can be a perfect expression or icon of life in a restored community:  a community where everyone has his or her part to play and the gifts of individuals all contribute to a harmonious whole, where there is unity in diversity.  In Dante’s Divine Comedy dance is scarcely mentioned in the Inferno, and it is a horrid dance, but dance is the outcome and overflow of joy in the earthly paradise at the end of Purgatorio, and souls dancing together is a very frequent sight in heaven, in the final book, the Paradiso.  Fra Angelico paints BAT43961serene pictures (right) of the life of heaven, it is a community dancing!

“There is something beautiful in dance.  What is it that we see and experience in music and in a well performed dance “but pallid reflections of the unimaginable beauty of the countenance of God?” (R Crouse)  Here we can taste something of the divine and it leaves a trace, a remembrance in our souls, that leaves us looking up with hopeful expectation of so much more.  I pray that in your dancing you may catch a glimpse of it often!”

It made me think of how that image of dancing could be an expression of a well ordered church, where there is reciprocity and exchange, both of ideas and mutual encouragement, but also simply in the various parts we play together so that all runs smoothly.  It is held together as we all look up for guidance to the same Lord.  It requires each of us taking our part and seeing how we might contribute to the whole, humbling ourselves before one another, and participating with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving for the opportunities to serve one another and our God.

This month Hanna Cremer Eindhoven begins as Chaplaincy Administrative Assistant – she joins a team of many others.  Soon we hope to invite an Assistant Chaplain – this month making decisions about interviews.  I pray that we might all play our part in the life and ministries of our local churches here in Utrecht and Zwolle – so that together we may flourish within our churches and provide an image, an icon, to the world of community life being restored by our blessed Saviour.

Yours in the love of Jesus,

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