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Miriam dances for freedom (a love note from your online Abbess)

SONY DSCDearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

I am so excited that we have the next two dancing monk icons ready to view! Marcy Hall completed King David and Prophet Miriam, both described as dancing with joy in the Hebrew Scriptures, and give us a way to honor the Jewish roots of the Christian tradition.

I am moved by both images, but perhaps especially by Miriam in these difficult days where the news feels so relentless with wars being waged all around us, with children dying, with so many struggling to get their most basic needs met.

John and I have been praying our morning lectio divina with the Psalms and the language used there is so honest, sometimes difficult, but always a powerful reminder of the shadows of the human heart and how we project our own need for power onto God. As I sit in prayer each morning, I send out blessings for all those who suffer, and I remember my own struggles and endeavor to sit honestly with the brutal and brutalized parts of myself. Sometimes the best thing we can do in our times of helplessness before the world’s sorrow is to look within and commit again to the deep peace we seek as monks in the world.

Miriam moves my heart these days because she is a reminder of the dance ready to break out at every experience of freedom. Every time an external or internal shackle is broken, dance is summoned forth. I love that she carried her tambourine with her in the hurried exit from Egypt. As she glanced around at her things, she knew this would be necessary in the days ahead. She knew there would be reasons for dancing. I am reminder of a powerful poem by Jack Gilbert about how in the midst of the world’s madness we must “risk delight.” He goes on to write that “there will be music despite everything.” The songs of the cosmos continue to ring forth no matter how much we resist.

In these days when the news offers little of solace, see if you might hold your own narrow and judgmental places with compassion, and in that softening see if you might slip slowly from their grip. Notice if that moment of inner Exodus brings the desire to dance, and if you can offer yourself the generous permission to say yes.

With great and growing love,


Photos: Dancing monk icons by Marcy Hall (order prints here)

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2 Responses

  1. Christine,
    I love this beautiful post and would like to share it with friends on Facebook and the Dominican Sisters who I work with in Ossining New York. Thank you for the Miriam image especially.