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From the distance, they watched a bloodied pulp, two-inch thorns squashed into his head, lugging a crossbeam over his shoulder, its end zigzagging a dusty trail up a steep hill. Hecklers, spitters, and garbage throwers, exacerbated the mayhem. Spiteful crows cawed, circling above the coming feast.

There were women watching, a handful as far as we know, their veiled heads shielding the noon sun, their dark eyes stinging with dry pain, their revulsion provoking gags. Perhaps men stood further away and gripped their guts.

Today, others are also watching—not just a handful but the planet Earth: you and me, our neighbors, everyone feels the atrocities meted upon the Ukrainians, people like ourselves wanting a peaceful, productive life. Such watching bores deep trenches of psychic powerlessness, of frenzy toward the Evil threats lobed upon us, in the fourth week of conflict.

Like those watching the Man of Sorrows on that barren hillside—He has been there—prayer permeated their angst. So not to lose heart …  

Dancers enjoy varying degrees of intimacy and exhilaration that depend upon their relationship.

But another dancer has captivated my imagination, that found in the Medieval Advent Carol, Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing-Day. The anonymous poet has Jesus, as dancer, anticipating his incarnation, within my true love—humankind. The eleven quatrains barely hold his desire.

 Tomorrow shall be my dancing day:
I would my true love did so

To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance

Then, He narrates the legend of my play, in which he invites us to dance with His experiences of baptism, the desert, His conflicts with Jewish authorities, His passion, and death—as we encounter similar suffering in this existence. He clearly wants company, and each brush with the untoward deepens intimacy, together with joy and focus.

There does follow resurrection and ascension:

Then up to heaven I did ascend,
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God, that man
May come unto the general dance

We have William B. Sandys (1792–1874), a collector of antiquities, to thank for the discovery of this carol and its publication in Christmas Carols: Ancient and Modern (1832). From his study of Tomorrow… he surmises its integration within the Medieval mystery play of the Incarnation, with the actor singing the role of Jesus, and the peasants standing along the roadside, singing the refrain.

Up to my true love and the dance.

Such dancing enlarges hearts, flourishes belief, and serves the needs of others.

At 2:25 A.M, a dream gentled my awareness:

It was Sunday morning; an oatmeal sky gloomed the city street as worshippers headed toward the church, its steeple still mottled from earlier rains. Among them sloshed a solitary woman in ill-fitting galoshes, her paisley scarf framing saw-toothed bangs, sallow cheeks, and pinched jowls. Winds whipped the tails of her faded coat, belted several times around her birdlike frame.

Initially the dream drew my compassion until I began to work with it and recognized myself in this impoverished woman.

Unlike her Good Will appearance, however, I was always dressed to the nines. It was her spirit that appalled me: bleak, colorless, taut as the power lines above her. Her aura seemed splintered, her energy dribbling upon the cracked sidewalk. A stranger to humor, to her tears, she seemed unaware of the wasteland burdening her stooped shoulders.

Because my Dreamer never lies, I own this beleaguered spirit; it feels rough, gangly, like a pimpled teen falling off a skateboard. Grounded, I no longer placate the god of control spinning webs of sticky illusion to appease my fear. In my arrogance, I had thought I was further along in my transition. But how absurd is it to plan for the totally known, despite years of scripture studies, of near death studies, and sitting with the terminally ill. True, I’ve learned much, but still the unknown remains the unknown. There’s no getting around it.

With the Psalmist, I continue to cry out, “Create, O God, a clean heart within me. Renew a right spirit within me.” On my own, this is impossible.

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