You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. Psalm 30:11-12a (NRSV)
When I was in chemo, my doctor prescribed a bolus of merriment every day against the depression and fatigue. Luckily, I had small kids, which helped.
One of our most reliable ways to get our joy on became what we dubbed the Three-Minute Dance Party. Even if we were running late for school, toothbrushes in hand while packing lunchboxes, we submitted to the religious ritual of putting a song on, loud (sorry, neighbors!), and shaking what God gave us, with help from Michael Jackson, Ricky Martin and Janelle Monáe.
Even if I wasn’t in the mood when I started dancing, by the end of the three minutes, my joy was full-on and organic. Music and movement prime the pump that feeds down into the deep well of joy that God has placed into the core of every human being.
Dancing is a way of working out the toxic stress sludge in our muscles. It helps us stay alert and strong, yet not rigid. The opportunity to “power pose” that dance provides is scientifically proven to increase confidence and change our brain chemistry. Whether you disco or dab, mosh or jitterbug, the three-minute dance party will tap divine joy.
So, Beloved, in these hard times, these cancerous times, the long days of chemotherapy for our culture and politics, when your strength is flagging and your will to resist flatlining, I hope you dance.
(With reference and appreciation to “I Hope You Dance,” Lea Ann Womack, by Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers, MCA Nashville, 2000)
Holy One, don’t let some hell-bent hearts leave us bitter. When we come closer to selling out, make us reconsider. May we give the heavens more than a passing glance, and when we get the choice to sit it out or dance—You hope we dance.
Molly Baskette contributed this devotional to Rise Up! Spirituality for Resistance, a collection of devotionals to keep you bright without burning out. Order Rise Up! here.