the first movement of the dance

“Healing begins not where our pain is taken away, but where is can be shared and seen as part of a larger pain.  The first task of healing, therefore, is take our many problems and pains out of their isolation and place them at the center of the great battle against the evil one…As we create the space to mourn – whether through one-to-one relationships, small support groups, or communal celebrations – we free ourselves little by little from the grip of the evil one and come to discover in the midst of our grief that the same Spirit who calls us to mourn stirs us to make the first movement in our dance with God…

Let me describe…the movements of the dance.  Let me be your dance master for a while!

The first movement is forgiveness.  It’s a very difficult movement.  But, then, all beginnings are difficult, and there is so much forgiving to do.

We have to forgive our parents for not being able to give us unconditional love, our brothers and sisters for not giving us the support we dreamt about, our friends for not being there for us when we expected them.  We have to forgive our church and civil leaders for their ambitions and manipulations.  Beyond all that, we have to forgive all those who torture, kill, rape, destroy – who make this world such a dark place.

And we, ourselves, also have to beg for forgiveness.  The older we become, the more clearly we see that we, too, have wounded others deeply, and are part of a society of violence and destruction.  It is very difficult to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.  But, without this, we remain fettered to our past – unable to dance…

Forgiveness is the great spiritual weapon against the evil one.  As long as we remain victims of anger and resentment, the powers of darkness can continue to divide us and tempt us with endless power games.  But when we forgive those who have threatened our lives, the lose their power over us…Forgiveness enables us to take the first step of the dance. ”

-Henri Nouwen, The Duet of the Holy Spirit: When Mourning and Dancing are One

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