Dancing as Redemption
One thing I love about my friendship with Blessed School for the Disabled is the DANCING—whenever there’s a celebration (and they have a lot of celebrations here) somebody pulls a couple drums out of thin air and someone else begins to spice the air with a familiar melody, and everyone (and by this I mean EVERYONE) joins in—loud and happy—they sing, and they laugh and they clap—and they DANCE.
The women here, when they dance, it’s unlike anything I have seen in the West. An elegant wave of the arm and arc of the hips—the allure, for me, is not so much sexual, but feminine. It is sensual and playful and beautiful and very, spectacularly, FEMININE. When a woman here dances, whether it is your beloved or your grandmother, an essential part of her self is unveiled. One is reminded that she is, in her deepest self, a woman.
Here at Blessed, the teachers help the girls learn to dance, as every Lebanese woman should know. So when the drums come out, the girls love to mirror the steps and sways of the beautiful young teachers before them. One of the students here has learned quite well, and her joy is barely contained as her fingers glide across her face with a flirty lilt. I fear, a person off the street might not consider, with their eyes, her to be attractive or someone they would choose for the dance, but here on this floor, she knows that she is beautiful.
I hear the struggle of families with an adult son or daughter who is developmentally challenged. The issues and dilemmas facing the maturing child (and their family) are beyond just sexual, they are the very questions of identity and what it means to be a man or a woman Out of so many doors closed to them, that one doesn’t shut so easily. It’s one more loss of those things that make us feel like a real, normal person.
There is a another girl here, a wisp of a girl, who is dancing. She is hesitant at first, shy, watching the moves of the other girl. She starts to dance, slowly, waving her hand across her face like she’s removing a veil, and then she twirls. And there’s a smile that emerges on this lovely young woman.
Jesus once said, “I have come to seek after and save that which is lost” (a fancy word we have for that in the Church is “Redemption.”) and I think he is talking about more than just where we go when we die. All of us have parts of us that have gotten lost somehow or somewhere on our journey. I believe that Jesus (and those who follow Him & His way) is deeply committed to searching for—and finding—those lost parts of ourselves.
In the prologue to John’s Gospel, he says this about Jesus:
“For those who trusted in Him, He helped them to become their true selves—their Child-of-God selves” (Msg.)