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Not afraid to dance…


Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. Psalm 149:3 (NIV)

Recently, a mentor asked me to name my fear. Ha! I am the definition of fearless, or so it seems. I cope. I do not panic. In the face of what some might view as paralyzing circumstances, I industriously move forward. There is no mystery in this forward movement; God wired me this way. I. Go. On. Going on does not mean you are not afraid; it just means that fear does not stop you. I cannot imagine being any other way.

I have not named my fear; they are legion. Among them are:

•           asking for help

•           reaching out to people I do not know

•           not being good enough

•           failing those I love

I could go on, but I won’t. I am learning to thrive in community, to rely upon others. I am beginning to consistently trust my instincts, believing that the still small voice that speaks when I am quiet is enough. More than enough.

Even for a scaredy-cat like me, there are absolutes. My desire to protect those I love vanquishes any fear I might profess; when they need me I AM THERE. Another absolute? Though I might never speak my faith to you, while you might see it in who I am or how I live, know this…


Though I have danced all my life, I was consumed by the ministry of liturgical dance 10 years ago. It is the single most profound confession of my faith. It is the confession I dare not make with my mouth. It is too intimate; too close; too dear to speak. That is how I came to understand that dance is my prayer language.

Dance is my native tongue.

Ministry through dance is neither widely practiced nor well understood. It is a form of worship ministry, not performance. To the same extent that devotion leaders help us prepare the temple and the people, dancers do as well, in their way.

This is not a primer on liturgical dance, this is my story.

Liturgical dance is the place at which I meet God, unafraid. It is the moment when my desire to seek Him, to offer myself as a vessel becomes larger and more insistent than any fear. I speak it all to God when I dance.

Liturgical dance is my intimate conversation with God...

I am always amazed that I can even tolerate anyone watching...except that when I worship through dance, I am completely alone, even in a sanctuary full of people. I wish I could write what I feel, but that's just it…I could dance it for you. Explaining this connection, this experience, is beyond my capacity in this language. It’s not my primary language in speaking my faith.

I dance my prayers.

I give thanks before the altar, beside the dining room table, walking the dog, anytime, anywhere the words are not enough. When dancing your prayers, the movement is the words. I best make my offering through movement. I dance unafraid; consumed more by the need to speak my wonder, my gratitude, my pain, than anything else. It is like breathing. You do not think to breathe, you just do. Even dancing in front of a congregation, a part of me remains very much alone even in ensemble, set apart. It is intimate conversation, just the Lord and me.

I am grateful for the gift of dance--it’s my fearless place.

It allows me to express feelings, to share emotions I never articulate. It is the place where I am open. While I may be observed, the subtext is exquisitely private; mine alone. It is corporate prayer whispered in a personal prayer language expressed as movement. I dance my prayers. I affirm my surrender. I dance gratitude. I dance receipt of the gift of Grace. I say, "Thank You, Lord." I humble myself and submit to an anointing, praying that my movement releases something in a worshipper that even they cannot convey in words.

I desired a prayer language. I discovered I already had one. And I am never afraid when I speak it. I am not afraid to dance.

Rochelle Wilson blogs at Treat Me to a Feast about her life lived forward, reviewed backward, through the lens of faith. She’s a PK (Pastor’s Kid), who’s been a Baptist church musician since she was five. Always a dancer and athlete, as an adult she turned to liturgical dance to deepen her personal worship.  It worked. Rochelle laughs a lot, is married to her first love and prom date nearly 20 years ago. Together God gave them two children and a boxer who is the other love of her life, confidante, therapist, and physical trainer.

photo credit: YanivG via photopin cc

Reader Comments (12)

God is amazing. It is incredible what you can do (dance, sing, be a single mom) with his Grace if you open your eyes ears and heart to him. Thanks for this Rochelle!

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelicia Gomez

Rochelle-you are so right--liturgical dance is not a performance. In my younger days I did some liturgical dance--each time preceded by prayer. It WAS all about praising the Lord and recognizing Him. Keep up the good work--the Lord delights in you!
(Hope I get to see you sometime).

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJune Jones

So delighted to have you with us today Rochelle! Thank you for sharing the beauty of worshipping through dance.

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElise Daly Parker

It's so amazing how God gives us different ways to intimately connect with Him. I am NOT a dancer but there are other ways I feel His pleasure and connect with Him. Lovely write, Rochelle! Thank you for sharing it with us.

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlia Joy

Love the image of dancing. Kinda like David did. I don't dance my prayers, but I bet there is such a joyous, freeing feeling when you do it :)

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralecia

I love this, Rochelle. I'm not a dancer, but you've given me an appreciation for people like you who do have that gift! I hadn't really thought of it as a way of praising the Lord before. Thank you!

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson

My Sister, what an honor to serve the Lord in the dance. You are blessed and a blessing!

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

To me truly dancing what I feel (whatever that may be) is one
of my greatest inhibitions, so the fact that you so
openly express your prayers through dance seems brave to me. It
also makes perfect sense since it IS such an intimate act.
I look forward to seeing you dance one day! (soon?)

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterApril Morris

May we learn how to "dance gratitude" like you do! The more we dance, the more our fears will be dispelled. Thanks for the lesson!

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNasreen Fynewever

Simply beautiful Rochelle...His grace is upon you when you walk, talk, and dance. I hope I one day have the opportunity to see you dance. My spirit has been lifted as I read incredibly powerful and personal

February 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTess

Rochelle, Thank you for sharing. I am always blessed by being the receiver of dance and song during service, they speak the loudest to me. And, more importantly, decreases me and allows the Holy Spirit to free me.

February 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Thank you everyone for your comments; thank you Circles of Faith for the opportunity. To God be the glory...
Peace and good,

February 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChelle

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