Spiritual Practice


Rachel Crumpler

Dancers on Toes2 TSP 121311164I think that dance—true dance—is as close to God as I may ever come.

Movement is pure. At times, you lose yourself totally in a dance. You forget to think. You are body and soul, moving to music, or maybe to something beyond your control.


That’s why I fell in love with dancing. There were days when I got bogged down in the technical steps and the rules of formal ballet. On other days, I got caught up in my physical imperfections, the limitations of my own body. But there were moments, when I was on stage, that would leave the rules behind. I became the music. I was movement. Nothing else mattered.

When I started dancing with Ephiphany, a Nashville liturgical dance group, I focused on the steps. The company used a mix of modern and ballet. Modern was difficult for me because I was trained as a ballerina. Modern was a looser style. I had to let go of the control ballet offered, letting my body feel the natural effects of gravity.

We were working on a dance that we would perform in a church as a Christmas celebration. Elements of the choreography were symbolic of the Christian story. Some elements were sheer beauty. I worked at it. I practiced at my house, in the grocery store, on my way to school. It was not an easy piece—elongated stretches nestled in quick footwork.

rbrb_1002When I got to the church the night of the performance, I was nervous. The steps raced through my mind over and over as I quickly applied eyeliner, eye shadow, lipstick, blush. I put on my dress, and then I hopped around the hallways, trying to warm up my legs. I jumped; I kicked; I tried to calm my mind.

When the first notes were played, I lost myself in the music. The movements were ingrained in my body; all I had to do was to start. I lifted my head to the vaulted ceiling and stained glass; I pointed my bare foot to the stone floor. I was gone, moving in another world. I was no longer worried about remembering the steps. The music streamed through me and I moved, floating.

I think that dance—true dance, not the technique or the practiced steps—is as close to God as I may never come.



We all have our own ways of reaching for God. Some of us reach outside ourselves, listening to another’s prayers, watching the graceful steps of a dancer, or enjoying the quiet music of nature. Some of us reach in, composing our thoughts in supplication, moving to our heart’s staccato, or drawing silent strokes across a page. Find your own way to draw near to God.

PRAYER: Thank you, God, for giving us ways to forget ourselves, to be lost in your love, and to glimpse heaven on earth. Amen.

Rachel Crumpler learned to dance in Nashville, Tennessee.

—from devozine (September/October 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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