Praying with Mechthild of Magdeburg: dancing with God

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By Hal Green
Pondering Prayer

Hal Green

Mechthild of Magdeburg (1210-1280), in Northern Germany, was a complicated and profound spiritual writer and nun. She was something of a free spirit, whose prayers speak to a modern audience. She speaks to me deeply, especially when she connects prayer with dancing. Why not prayer as dancing with God? We get so stiff, formal and burdensome in our praying that we forget that prayer is also to be joyous, even fun. Like the old love song says, “Heaven, I’m in heaven. . . When we’re out together, dancing cheek to cheek.” Let your heart dance with Mechthild in her prayer:

“I cannot dance, O Lord, unless you lead me. If it is your will, I can leap with joy. But you must show me how to dance and sing by dancing and singing yourself! With you I will leap towards love, and from love I will leap to truth, and from truth I will leap to joy, and then I shall leap beyond all human senses. There I will remain and dance for evermore.”

Although your body may not dance while in prayer, your spirit can. You can move with the Holy Spirit, who is ever in motion, like the wind. As Jesus said, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

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I have moved with the Spirit-wind and danced with God in prayer. After a memorable dance-prayer, led by God, I thanked God:

“Thank you for moving toward me silently, graciously across the darkened dance floor with markers but no beginning or end;

Thank you for reaching out with assured, assuring hands inviting me to join you in a dance unfamiliar yet strangely that for which I seem gladly made.

Thank you for leading me around and around the clouded floor liltingly, laughingly, lovingly, longingly;

Thank you for guiding me through a dance of your design alone, yet whose rhythms arise in my heart in harmonic response to your turning me this way and that in an embrace that will not end as long as I am;

For I will cleave to you in heart and spirit, should you move on to other partners and dances beyond my vision.”

Who knows, perhaps we will dance with the Spirt of God in heaven. You can begin now by letting God lead you in the wordless flow of prayer.

(Hal Green, Ph.D., is author of Pray This Way to Connect with God. You can contact him at drhalgreen@gmail.com.)


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