Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Beginning the Christmas Dance

The picture above was taken two Christmases ago. Alex was much younger then, just a kitten. I had no guests in my house, although I did have some neat friends come in to help me decorate the tree. One of them snapped that picture of Alex and me. I used it on the cover of my Christmas cards that year.

With less than two weeks until Christmas, I had been unable to feel the “spirit of Christmas.” I realize that a big part of that inability to feel the Spirit has been the presence of my egocentric “guests.” Another ingredient has been the alienation I feel from my #1 son: he refuses to come around here because he says my home—or is it me?—depresses him. Likewise, the alienation from my sister, who is irate because I remain unemployed (other than my online businesses and the non-paid positions I hold as President/Moderator-elect of the Kentuckiana Association of the United Church of Christ and Chairperson of the Kentuckiana Steering Committee of Bridge of Hope) and that I have continued to share what I do have with others who have even less.

A few years ago I read Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book, The Wounded Healer. In it he speaks of being able to heal the wounds of others through our own woundedness. Of course, to do that we must first admit that life has wounded us. We must also allow ourselves not to withdraw from the world, but to be in contact the others who are also wounded. Not only that, but we must be willing to dance the dance of life and love, even in our woundedness.

I was reminded of the importance dance yesterday by a post by Milkmaid. In her comment on my comment, she invited me to dance: Nick...wanna dance? You look sorta like Santa, you'd fit right in to this bunch of our friends. Her comment is what engaged my contemplative thoughts and led me words that a wise pastor said to me many years ago: All of life can be a dance, if you are willing to listen to the music.

I fear that, in my own woundedness, I had begun to withdraw and egotistically refuse to hear the music of life. I was becoming like my self-seeking guests and my self-centered son and sister. So today I spent the morning in contemplative prayer, listening for the music of life and love, which to me is what the Advent season is all about. I am just now beginning to again hear that music—and to again realize that, even with my self-perceived woundedness, I can dance the dance of life and love. More than that, I can and will celebrate the season!

During my morning contemplation, I again read a prayer by Edward Hays in his book, Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim:

Awaken my heart,
God’s reign is near;
the Peaceable Kingdom
is in my hands.

If the wolf can be the guest of the lamb,
and the bear and cow be friends,
then no injury or hate can be a guest
within the kingdom of my heart.

Eden’s peace and harmony will only return
when first, in my heart,
there hides no harm or ruin,

for the Peaceable Kingdom is in my hands.

Isaiah’s dream became Jesus’ vision:
“Come, follow me,” Emmanuel’s echo rings.
“Reform your life, recover Eden’s peace.”
for only then will salvation appear.
For Advent’s dream is the healing of the earth,
when the eagle and bear become friends,
the child and the serpent playmates
Awaken my heart,
God’s reign is near;
the Peaceable Kingdom
is in your hands.


  1. What a GREAT picture Nick! And you make a perfect Santa!

    You are always on my dance card and thanks for the reminder to listen to the music, so true.

  2. You ARE Saint NIck, aren't you?

  3. I think I need to read the Henri Nouwen book.

  4. Nouwen's book is a very good read. And, Nick, you are absolutely right--you have to be able to listen to the music.

  5. The music is always there, I just have to choose to tune it in - and dance. In this kind of dance, I dance with a much higher Being and it's all to His music. ec

  6. ex-Louisville Guy Retired in TucsonSunday, December 18, 2005 2:15:00 AM

    H know what you are saying, Nick. I say: Come West! The music is louder here.