January 11 – Ted Shawn – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
“To know God without being God-like is like trying to swim without entering the water.” Orest Bedrij
Underneath all we are taught, there is a voice that calls to us beyond what is reasonable, and in listening to that flicker of spirit, we often find deep healing. This is the voice of embodiment calling us to live our lives like sheet music played, and it often speaks to us briefly in moments of deep crisis. Sometimes it is so faint, we mistake its whisper for wind through leaves. But taking it into the heart of our pain, it can often open the paralysis of our lives.
This brings to mind the story of a young divinity student who was stricken with polio, and from somewhere deep inside in him came an unlikely voice calling him to, of all things. dance. So, with great difficulty, he quit divinity school and began to dance, and slowly and miraculously, he not only regained the use of his legs, but went on to become one of the fathers of modern dance.
This is the story of Ted Shawn, and it is compelling for us to realize that studying God did not heal him. Embodying God did. The fact of Ted Shawn’s miracle shows us that Dance, in all its forms, is Theology lived. This leads us all to the inescapable act of living out what is kept in, of daring to breathe in muscle and bone, what we know and feel and believe, again and again.
Whatever crisis we face, there is this voice of embodiment beneath our pain ever so quickly, and if we can hear it and believe it, it will show us a way to be reborn. The courage to hear and embody opens us to a startling secret, that the best chance to be whole is to love whatever gets in the way, until it ceases to be an obstacle.