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By Rev. Nancy Bacon
Tehachapi Community Congregational Church 

Dancing Hula with the Divine

 


“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 14:15b)

Are your feet beautiful? Mine aren’t. I have injured toes from hiking and running and occasionally wearing ridiculous women’s shoes.

Have you ever looked at the feet of professional dancers? They are pretty ugly. My beloved sacred dance instructor, Carla DeSola, had the most worn mangled feet and worn shredded bible I have ever seen. She could dance and interpret scripture through her graceful body like nobody else. Though very petite, she made Mary come alive and fill the space of giant cathedrals, then eventually double over and ache with pain for her beloved son. Carla encouraged her students to embody stories as a means of learning more about them. She also encouraged students to use dance to express their own spiritual struggles.

I’ll never forget one man I watched performing in her class. At the start of his dance he was very proud and strong, and then bit by bit he became confused and eventually he was lying near the ground, barely moving, barely breathing. A shallow tiny movement portrayed his still beating heart. His dance was about his faith, its deconstruction and eventual reconstruction into some other form. I’m not sure how it became reconstructed, but it was clearly different than it had been originally.

Great pain shapes our lives. It shapes our feet and our faith. Yet there can be great beauty emerging at the same time.

Several years ago I watched the beauty of an evangelical hula ministry dance group. Their movements and sincerity told me about their passion for and devotion to Christ. While their message was different from the faith I experience, I could appreciate both their message and our differences.

There’s a book I like that summarizes different forms of Christianity, especially chapter four, “The Seven Jesuses I Have Known.” The book, written by Brian McClaren, is entitled: A Generous Orthodoxy: “Why I am a missional + evangelical + post/protestant + liberal/conservative + mystical/poetic + biblical + charismatic/contemplative + fundamentalist/Calvinist + anabaptist/anglican + methodist + catholic + green + incarnational + depressed-yet-hopeful + emergent unfinished Christian.” Anyway, reading about seven distinct ways of viewing Jesus helps me to appreciate different forms of Christianity, which may seem like different religions. My Jesus appreciates Sufi poetry, like this poem by Daniel Ladinsky: Every child has known God, Not the God of names, Not the God of don’ts, Not the God who ever does anything weird, But the God who only knows four words, And keeps repeating them, saying: “Come dance with Me.” Come dance.”

I have invited the Aloha Ke Akua Ohana Hula Ministry group to perform at our church on Sunday morning, August 17th, during our regular 10:30 worship service and they have graciously accepted. It will be an honor hosting them and hearing the good news they bring, baring their soles. Come catch their wave. Shoes are optional.

 
 

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