This weekend of November 6-9, while attending the 2009 Call to Action Conference in Milwaukee I kept bumping into a coordinator seeking volunteers as liturgical dancers for the final Eucharist.
Slender, graceful, and smiling, she seemed to appear wherever I was heading. I saw her at breakfast, at the registration desk, on the escalator, in the hallway, in the ladies room and each time I saw her I kept hearing an inner voice that said "Go ahead. Take the leap. Volunteer. Dance the liturgy," and each time I heard that voice I told it to shut up. "I'm not a dancer. I bump into walls. I trip on air. I'm old."
While waiting on line at a food stand, the dancer smiled at me. I smiled back. She smiled at me again. Between the hot dog and the relish stand, she lured me into volunteering. Buoyed by the sheer hilarity of me dancing, I managed to talk two more women "of a certain age," into dancing. Later that day, the dancer took seven of us women through the movements of the varied dances. That night I lay awake, unable to sleep, trying to recall what movements went with what line of what song without success.I could remember only one movement -- a clapping sequence to Alle, Alle, Alle, Lu-u-ya.
My friend Virginia told me not to worry. "Let your body reflect the spirit that the words elicit within you. Celebrate. Remember to exaggerate your movements so they will be seen."
I trust Virginia. Her words gave me confidence. For the Eucharistic Celebration that ended the conference, I danced onto the altar, I flitted through the aisles. I gestured and smiled and encouraged others to imitate my movements. We locked eyes, we laughed, we danced. It was wonderful. And that evening, on arriving back in Minneapolis I visited my now grown son, who laughed aloud at the thought of his 70-year-old mother dancing during Mass.