There Is Only the Dance


After the kingfisher’s wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.
T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, stanza IV


For me to be still, I need to move. I need the muscles to engage in order for my will to spin free. But going alone to a peaceful place can be just an exercise in missing beauty. With a noisy mind, I can be stuck in my inner world.

A woman I spoke with about anxiety and worry said to me that sometimes the best thing you can do to find rest is occupy yourself.

I’m terrible at taking purposeful time away unless I’m paying for a class. Art has been amazing. So has ballet. I’d felt guilty about the money spent on classes and dropped ballet when our son went to college. But over the past few years I’ve put on weight, slowed down, and been much less happy in my body. I’ve been less effective. Ballet is not just exercise; it’s a still point.

Recently I found out (after all these years!) that I get tense trying to work through the everyday because I have a fairly severe attention issue related to transitioning between tasks. I get things done, but it costs me. I thought I had a horrible memory. I don’t. I just have one that needs to be given a little space between things. Knowing this has made sense of a lot of funny and frustrating glitches in my days.

It’s become imperative that I schedule in not quiet, but loud. I need the loud of movement and music and friends, of being outside and waterfalls and boat rides and swimming. Oh goodness I love immersing myself deep into the water where the sound goes away and the water glides over my back and the light—the blessed light sifts in and dances under the surface.

Then I’m able to slow down, like the center point in a fast spinning galaxy.

It’s similar for me with prayer. Often the quiet thought comes not in an hour spent staring at my bible readings, but sitting in the pew while the words and worship wash over me. The verse that is spoken, or even the way the evening is settling all around us through the open windows, ushers me into God’s presence. I’ve made a date with something bigger and grander than me, and it pulls me outside myself into that still point that T. S. Eliot speaks of. That point where God lies close to the axis of my everyday, pointing me toward eternity.

He is a God of stillness, but stillness in counterpoint with abundance and creation and wildly beautiful works. I wonder if that isn’t the essence of Kingdom Life—work done through great love, stillness at the heart of each step. It’s the purpose threaded through the movement, the spirit large in a body that needs to move and stretch and breathe.

Who knows if this isn’t the axis, the origin point, of the true work we are supposed to be doing?

At the still point of the turning world…at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity.

Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
Burnt Norton, stanza II, selected lines