The days seemed to blur one into the other. The next day was another day where I packed and prepared for another performance, this time a dance I have been dancing for years. Despite the longevity and familiarity with the piece, I was nervous. There was something missing, and I knew that whatever was missing was the very essence of what made me a moving prayer.
I woke up and went onto the gazebo atop the hill on the grounds of our hotel. I did a few sun salutations but soon found myself meditating on a mantra I had never said before, “Any time, everywhere. Only now, only here.” It was my desperate attempt to living and experiencing the moment. It meant that God could be found at any time and everywhere in life, but that the closest that we will ever be to God is in the here and now. And I so desperately wanted to live and experience God in the moment.We celebrated Mass as a small delegation in a 400 year old church then headed off to the city center. We took our small group of independent pilgrims (nicknamed “The Independents”) throughout the city, including another stop to Holy Trinity to see the relics of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati.
I left the group, who went off to Błonia Park to welcome the Holy Father to Kraków. I really wanted my sister to experience the Welcoming Ceremony so I instead met up with one of our group leaders. In between the rehearsal and the performance, we had some great pierogis in an alleyway restaurant. We then had a wonderful and intimate conversation about what we were experiencing this World Youth Day, growing older, and how and why I got into sacred dance. And then it hit me- what I was missing was my foundation. My why. I had other reasons for my dancing in connection with others and myself, but what about just for myself? Yes, it was about the nurturing of my mind, body, and spirit and the fulfillment of my mission and dreams. But there was something much more basic. I loved to do sacred dance because I loved that feeling, that moment, that experience when I danced for something bigger than myself.
With this new information, I went back to the venue to get ready. In between putting on my costume and applying makeup, I meditated, “Any time, everywhere. Only now, only here.” I met our group leader again and she asked what she could do for me, and for some reason I just really wanted to dance with somebody. So out in the courtyard of St John Paul II University, I not only danced with my group leader but with a sister who only spoke German and another volunteer who was coerced into joining. And although we didn’t speak, we prayed a powerful prayer. (Even the volunteer who reluctantly joined got into the movement in the end!) The sister went from being a stranger who bumped into a girl dancing in the rain to my companion on this journey. She gave me a special blessing on my forehead and felt ready to pray for, with, and through God.
I left it all to God, and let the Spirit move me. I danced better than ever, until suddenly … I let go. I decided to not be afraid. I jumped higher than I ever did, I turned faster, and I really let go. I didn’t care if I ended up falling, or losing balance, or missing my cues, I was here to dance. I was here to pray. I was here to let God’s love move through me. And my God, was it everything!
Is it any coincidence that I meditated that morning, ate a meal with my group leader, met that sister, performed in Marii Magdaleni Square in front of St John Paul II University at World Youth Day? St John Paul II said “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors of Christ.” And with God within and around me, what is there to fear when I give myself up to something bigger than myself?