I know nothing except what everyone knows—
if there when Grace dances, I should dance.
So often, I have confused grace with success or reward—God patting me on the head for something I had done right, or favoring me so that I can do something more. Grace—I’ve too often thought—is all about lightness and luck, about the good feelings I get from being part of God’s plan and God’s work.
The truth is, grace doesn’t come to pat us on the head or bring us success—it isn’t magic or reward, and it is almost never what we expect it to be! Most often, it comes as the presence of God appearing in the locked room of our fear and confusion; it comes as the fire of the Spirit blazing out in the midst of our naïveté; it comes as the strong wind that blows us into uncharted waters—when we foolishly think that we know exactly what we are doing and where we are bound! It comes, most often, as the answer to our most authentic prayers—to our cry for “Help!”—or as a hope hidden in the midst of our most desperate choices. Grace is that partner who pulls us onto the dance floor, even when we don’t know the music, even when we’re not sure how to dance.
This grace doesn’t reduce the dance of life to a few steps, easily learned, but invites each of us to find our own dance, to step out onto the floor of the world with grace as our partner, and be the dancer we are—not quite knowing where to step next, but trusting in the lead of grace and in the music that the world provides.
We miss grace so often, not because it is not there, but because—in all but our most desperate or desperately naïve moments—we are (most of us) terribly preoccupied with ourselves: with how we look and how we stand, with what we have done in the past and what we will do in the future, with our roles and our duties and all our many needs.
When was the last time you danced—not because you were good at it, not because it was appropriate or expected of you, not because it gave you some advantage or made sense, but just because grace was dancing with you?
Let’s confess what we know; let’s allow ourselves the grace we long for to be changed and challenged:
I know nothing, except what everyone knows—
if there when grace dances, I should dance.
The quotes above are excerpts from:
"Called to the Dance of Grace"
An address given by John D. Whitney, S.J.
at the Jesuit Volunteer Corps: NW Annual Dinner
May 19, 2007