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First Parish Universalist Church
790 Washington Street, P. O. Box 284, Stoughton, Massachusetts 02072 
(781) 344-6800
Worship: 10:30 AM
Children's Chapel:  10:30 AM
Church School: 10:45 AM
 

Born to Dance

Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz, March 23, 2008


Did you ever notice how the eggs on our church’s Easter tree seem to dance, as they hang there on their branches? (If you have a chance, do come up later and take a closer look at our tree, especially if you haven’t done so for a few years. It really is a lovely sight.) They look to me like they’re dancing. Gently swaying; lightly bobbing up and down if a light breeze brushes by; or hanging on for dear life if some major crisis befalls them: if a gust of wind sweeps through the sanctuary, or if someone brushes against the tree, and sends its branches shaking.

Dancing eggs each with a precious name; some of people still here; others of souls now long gone. Each dancing along the branches of a great tree—a world tree; a tree that unites the generations; a tree on whose branches past, present, future blend.

We are each like precious, fragile buds along different branches of the tree of life.

We are each dancing together, like shining fragments, in a sky filled with light.

Out of eternity we have come, and into eternity we will return—and our dance here on this Earth is but a little thing, God knows: three score years and ten, maybe a little more; maybe even four score or more, given the advances of modern medicine. But however long, it is but a tiny glimmer between those two eternities.

Easter is our faith’s proclamation that we are part and parcel of those eternities: We are joined with all that come before, tied together through mystic chords of memory, from generation to generation. We are part of all that will come after, and even after we are gone, our lives will reverberate in the lives of others; our heart will yet sound in the beating heart of the universe.

The soul’s horizon widens,
Past, present, future blends,
And rises on our vision
the life that has no end.

We have been born into a never-ending dance of all souls, and sometimes it’s a danse macabre, and sometimes it’s a dance sublime—but either way, it is a dance of life upon life—dream upon dream—age after age.

Just like those eggs on that dear tree of ours: Each one representing a precious human soul: a man, or woman, or child who had shared his or her being—his or her creativity—his or her inner fire-- his or her joy—and now is sharing this Easter morning with us. There in a nutshell (or, in an eggshell, actually) is what Easter truly is all about—indeed, what life is all about (for me at least, and I know for many of you): It is about being part of that great river of memory and hope-- that glorious stream of living souls that flows down through the ages, timelessly, deathlessly. It is about dancing on the eternal tree of life—dancing with eternity—with one another—with every soul—with all time.

None of us ever finishes our ministry upon this Earth when our time comes for us to go. None of us ever becomes the full person that the Hand of Life intended us to be. We will never be finished in our search for spiritual and emotional completeness.

The great Renaissance artist Raphael was so moved by the essential incompleteness of human existence that when he painted his most famous portrait of Christ, he kept the lower left hand corner empty—unfinished—to symbolize the unfinished part of every life, even the life of Jesus himself.

Here is the essence of our human condition:

Our little lives are short. Even the grandest, most powerful, most transforming, most revolutionary human life is short. (Jesus himself lived only 33 years, we are told.) Yet, we dance with one another on the branches on a Tree of Life which is eternal and immortal.

Easter moves us because it speaks to both of those conceptions. It is a promise of truth and beauty flowing freely now, within this life, with its cycles and seasons. But Easter is also a declaration of a hope which transcends the bounds of time and space; it is a declaration of our hope in the immortality of our spirits—the eternal nature of our love—and of our ability “To see a world in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold infinity in the palm of [our] hand And Eternity in an hour.”

As Blake said, it is in the simplest treasures that we glimpse eternity most profoundly: the simplest touch upon our shoulder or across our cheek; the softest whisper of truth and meaning in our souls; the gentlest notes of music, music of the birds, music of the breeze, music of the laughter of those we love. The pain of loss. The miracle of healing. An unquenchable hope for the future. Constant reminders of how precious each moment truly is. Constant reminders of why we are here, and of how we were born to dance.

At Easter, we celebrate our place in the Earth’s rebirth, and know that it is but symbol and sign of our soul’s rebirth in all eternity.

And, of course, eternity does not simply mean “a long time”. Eternity is beyond all time. Eternity is the dimension of the divine, pouring itself forth into our lives. It is the power and presence of God reverberating through these little lives of ours.

Easter reminds us about our place in this great dance of the cosmos—our place at the great vortex between the human and the divine. As Judy Cannoto writes in her book, Quantum Grace: “It is [our] refusal to allow our connection to the human and the divine to be broken which saves us.”

So at Easter we reach out fully to embrace this wondrous world with its cycles and seasons and its refulgence and abundance. And we reach out expectantly to embrace the Holy One in whom we live and move and have our being, and whose eternal voice echoes timelessly in our souls: “Behold, I make all things new.”

“Why wait for death?” the poet asks. “You are immortal now… Why wait for death? Eternity is now.”

“Join in the dance of the Earth’s jubilation!
This is the feast of the love of God.
Shout from the heights to the ends of Creation,
[Faith and hope and love have] risen [once again] from the grave.”

And so has the Earth. And so have we. We have risen, that we might join in the great dance of life once again.

May the blessings of Easter be with you all.


 


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