The Dance

"The Marriage Trap" by Alan Ayers, original artwork, 2005

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“. . . the question is not, Why are we so infrequently the people we want to be? but rather, Why do we so infrequently want to be the people we really are?”
—Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed
on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don’t jump up and shout,
Yes, this is what I want! Let’s do it!
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.

Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiraling down into the ache within the ache,
and I will show you how
I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery,
sweet lips on my own, every day.

Don’t tell me you want to
hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away
from making another wrong
without abandoning yourself
when you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.

Tell me a story of who you are,
and see who I am in the stories I live.
And together we will remember
that each of us always has a choice.

Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now
in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next . . .

I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall,
to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?

And after we have shown each other how we have set
and kept the clear, healthy boundaries
that help us live side by side with each other,
let us risk remembering
that we never stop silently loving
those we once loved out loud.

Take me to the places on the earth
that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet
and the stars overhead
make my heart whole again and again.

Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed
but still the voices within and around us
shout that soul’s desires have too high a price,
let us remind each other
that it is never about the money.

Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs
you want our children’s children to remember.
And I will show you how I struggle
not to change the world,
but to love it.

Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness
and our undeniable belonging.
Dance with me in the silence
and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.

And when the sound of all the declarations
of our sincerest intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause
before the next great inhale
of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness
from the outside or from within.

Don’t say, “Yes!
Just take my hand and dance with me.

Copyright © 2001 Oriah Mountain Dreamer • All rights reserved.
Selection from THE DANCE: MOVING TO THE RHYTHMS OF YOUR TRUE SELF, Harper: San Francisco, 2001.
Painting: “The Marriage Trap” by Alan Ayers, original artwork, 2005.