Wednesday in the Sixth Week of Easter at Mississippi Abbey
When we run out of words we can express our love by dancing.
At some Greek weddings there’s a dance called Perichoresis, meaning to penetrate, or turn in. At least three dancers start to turn in circles, weaving in and out in a very beautiful pattern of motion. Then they start going faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Soon they are dancing together so quickly they seem like they’re all one.
Perichoresis is the same word Fathers of the Church and other theologians have used to describe the inner life of the Trinity as an interpenetrating divine dance full of life and joy, overflowing with love, goodness and beauty. This is no lonely God hovering over a dark silent abyss, without companionship. St. Bernard of Clairvaux describes this inner life of the Trinity, this divine dance, as the kiss of God: “The Father is he who kisses, the Son he who is kissed, and the Holy Spirit is the kiss itself.” 1 A line in the Song of Songs expresses the dance like this: “Turn, turn, O Perfect One, that we may look upon you.” 2 And now Jesus is inviting us not just to look on this divine dance, but to become one with the dancers. Aren’t we the lucky ones!
1. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 8 on the Song of Songs.
2. Song of Songs 6:13, NET Bible translation. The Jerome Biblical Commentary and the New Catholic Commentary of Holy Scripture support the translation as turn or turn round (in a dance), rather than return.