As a senior this year, I felt a certain responsibility to put my elective credits to good use. So, naturally, I enrolled in a ballet class with one of my best friends. She had never danced before, and I hadn’t put on ballet slippers since I was thirteen, so we had a lot to learn as we twirled and leapt across the floor for a semester. It turned out to be a challenge, but a fun one, full of lessons that I’ll carry for some time.
I learned fancy french terms like “pas du chat” (which means “step of the cat”), how to turn without getting dizzy, and that actual ballerinas have to be really, really strong. Some more complicated jumps and turns took my days of practice to achieve correctly. Even after a lot of practice, I probably looked less-than-graceful. But the simplest concepts, like standing with proper form, proved to be a lesson all their own, too.
It was one day when the class was standing in preparation for a jump exercise that my teacher said something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since. He said, “Even when you’re standing, you should have the expectation of movement.” What he meant, in terms of ballet, is that we should never be in a passive position. Our feet should be planted firmly on the ground, our muscles engaged, and our arms ready to gesture towards the next step. A simple stance should be able to give life to an exciting leap!
What I heard, in terms of the spiritual life, was a message much the same, and it was a great comfort to me. Even when it feels like things are at a stand still, we should be bracing for the next best thing. By remaining where the Lord asks us to, and by doing so with a strong trust, we are putting our best foot forward for whatever is coming next. Saint Ignatius’ Rules for the Discernment of Spirits encourage big decisions to be made in times of consolation instead of desolation. That is, if you are experiencing dryness in prayer or the spiritual life, the most trusting thing to do is to expect a season of movement and motion; stay put and seize the opportunity to strengthen in perseverance.
In his book Interior Freedom, Jacques Philippe says that, “To stop moving forward means to stop living.” By claiming this, he means that we should first accept our current reality, whatever it may be, and then consent to the transformation the Lord wishes to give. The step of acceptance is important: only by recognizing our stillness and our current state can we begin to live it well and give God the potential to propel us forward.
The second step of trust in transformation is equally important. If you are still right now, are you expecting movement in your life? Are you allowing yourself to hope?
I can assure you, brothers (there ARE male ballerinos) and sisters, that our Father in Heaven is equally as delighted by your strong and steady stance before the dance as He is with the leaps and bounds during. Trust, with a hopeful heart ready for motion, that He has carefully choreographed each step of your life. Stand strong in His love, expecting the very best.
Kathryn Hurd is a senior studying strategic communications and anthropology at K-State. She's a maker, a walker, a butterfly-spotter, and a lover of a good children's book. You can read more of her words, ramblings, and random interests here.