The joy of dancing like nobody’s watching

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on June 23, 2020

Photo by Edgar Martu00ednez on

On many walks in my neighbourhood, I noticed all the flowers blooming bright in the gardens. They looked like they were dancing in the wind.

I pondered, do flowers hide their colour, sultriness, softness, vivaciousness, or beauty? No, they do not hide. They let their brilliant colours shine. They let their foliage beam with what they are meant to be. I felt like the Lord was saying, “You too, let all your colours shine, beam. Do not hide your virtues, talents, and beauty. Do not hide them.”

I felt it the night I danced in the moonlight, my sense of hope renewed. Opening the creaky gate covered in ivy and slipping to my dance floor, the alley way behind the house, I felt a surge of excitement. It was the perfect spot to move free with form, expression, and passion.

In the moves of a flamenco dancer, a ballet dancer, and a contemporary dancer, I experienced joy again. After months of searing leg and back pain, my strength had returned. The muscles were not pulsing uncomfortably anymore. I could move and breathe like a dancer. For the next couple of weeks after work finished, I would dance freely in the alley with my music playing.

I tried to recall some of the choreography I had learned in my various dance classes, adding my own flair. The wide-open space was my theatre. I let my right leg do more of the heavy lifting and leaps. It was fun to jump and twirl with my long hair whipping in the wind. It felt so amazing. I was getting stronger.

When I was in the middle of the pain, I thought it would always be that way. I could not see past the discomfort. My prayers were filled with questions like “What are you trying to teach me, Lord?” And “Can you please take this pain away?” I didn’t like the suffering, and it felt like there was no end to it. It was something I offered up but had enough of.

And amazingly, time can heal wounds. Slowly, the numbness in my toes disappeared. And I could stretch and walk without trouble. Being able to dance again taught me to trust in the Lord’s faithfulness. He knows what is on my heart and gently cares for it. A few of my neighbours putting out their trash and mowing their lawns might not have expected to see me jumping for joy in the alley. But that’s exactly what they saw. I danced as if I had just discovered I had legs. It was an indescribable feeling of freedom.

I am grateful for who God made me to be and who I am becoming. I haven’t always been this free. Healing from any illness takes time. Back pain and bipolar disorder have been tools for me to lean on God more and learn that I am not in control. When I experience pain or my moods move from high to low, I can always rely on God’s unchanging love for me.

I resonated with this quote from Marianne Willliamson’s book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So if you find yourself swaying to music, don’t be shy. Know that I probably am dancing like a flower in the wind too.


One thought on “The joy of dancing like nobody’s watching

  1. I love this! I also have been working on not “shrinking” out of fear of failure, or a desire to conform. The flowers bloom, not to please an audience, but because of their very nature to bloom.


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