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“This is the Body of Christ, Liz,” she said placing the cross-incised wafer into my outstretched palms and returning to the chair in my study. Silence of communion etched innate belonging upon our psyches; we gleamed with the gift.

Only after raising my eyes did I begin to speak. “Thanks, Bridget, it’s been a long time. I so appreciate your coming to my home this morning,” I said, scooting back in my arm chair and noting the sun’s glimmer upon a cardinal’s wings, in flight. Before her arrival, I wondered what we’d have to share. Yet, words came easily, despite my departure from the church seventeen years ago, caused by a significant dream.

“I’m also glad to see you again, Liz. Your home is lovely, so welcoming. How long have you lived here?” And so, the conversation grew, with intervals of laughter.

In her younger years, Bridget had taught religious education to the parish children, then, went on for a degree in theology in spiritual direction and retreats, all the while, raising children with her husband, still an avid chess player. Her interest in my life experiences led to questions about my terminal illness.

“Do know that your name appears in the weekly bulletin—among the ill parishioners? Although you are not physically among us, we come to each of you, in prayer, Fridays at the church.” Of special note were her strong hands with a simple gold band and her lively eyes filled with life’s rough and tumble amusement.

Before we separated, I asked, “Bridget, will you remove your mask so I can see your face? It’s been a while.”

In the ensuing moment, unspeakable joy fused us to Another. The Gift deepens.

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.

On my way to the front door, I noticed a red flickering among branches of boxwood hedges outside my front window, rollicked by April’s sun-washed breezes—unlike anything I had ever seen before. My heart quickened.

Planted in my flowerbed was a pair of red tulips, their petals full-blown, their color speaking of love.

Then, I remembered. Three years ago, I’d had such a surprise; only then, it was daffodils. When my gardener-friend had prepared my garden and shrubs for that winter, she’d planted the daffodils. It took a while for me to catch on.

Her professional and loving care of my property taught me about flowers and shrubs that further enhanced my home. Her spirit seemed to brighten the harder she worked, often soaked to the skin, her floppy sunhat tied under her chin, her belt of tools swaying with her movements. Lugging yard waste heaped atop a tarp to her white truck signaled the end of that day’s work, not without sweeping the walks and sharing stories about her grandchildren.

What recently impressed me was her disclosure of prayer with Creator God as she clipped, raked, pulled, dug, watered, planted, and mulched. No wonder such orderliness and beauty have followed in the wake of her gloved hands.

I’m grateful, but the red tulips enjoying today’s sun express it better to Peg, my gardiner-friend.

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