• Jean Gilbertson

Dancing on the Whisper of God

Guest Post by Jean Gilbertson


Excerpt - Pages 190-192


Two mornings later, the eastern sky grew lighter and lighter, beginning at least a half hour before the first burst of sunlight cleared the horizon. Alexandra did not see it, though, because she was seated on her straight-back chair in her bedroom. A blanket was draped around her with an extra fold to cover her head. This morning, nothing in her day-to-day life siphoned off the purity of her attention, so she sank into the rhythm of the inaudible mantra, letting it come as it would and ebb as it would.


Some meditators referred to it as bliss, but to Alexandra, it was heart awareness: that spiritual space inside that made itself known only in meditation sessions, and only occasionally there, an infrequent gift. And this morning, here it was. Everything else had fallen away; it was as though Alexandra had no body, no life or being outside of this moment. But this morning, rather than being still in peaceful silence, the spirit moved a new depth in her, pushing open a tunnel where none had been before and shepherding her smoothly down, down. There was at one point a sensation of negotiating a turn on the downward course, and then—pure wonder! The whole universe spread out before her, as if at a drop of many feet in distance, and she fell, floating, headlong into it. It was darkness but lit by a million points of light. There was no sound; there was no concern about heat or cold; there was no sensation of touch; there was no time.


At first, she floated above the lights. Then she came to rest there on their surface, not feeling them yet at the same time being supported by them. When her spirit began moving downward again she slipped through a surface boundary, deeper and further into the light, and eventually she was part of it. And there she remained.


Later, though she could not have said how much later, a shift began in reverse and the spiritual space receded into a background of unawareness, where presumably it resides all the time. There was no sensation of rising up out of one state into another. For Alexandra, there was only a returning of her mental awareness, a sense of returning to her body and the apartment she lived in, to the life she informed and inhabited. But that is not to say that she was unchanged. As she rested, letting her body resume a normal pace in heartbeat and blood flow, she was aware that a softer layer of peace now cushioned everything. Nothing really had changed, yet the ground of her being was at a new place.

It was only later, after a shower and breakfast, after making her way to the ballet studio, after ballet class, when she was in rehearsal for the Prayer ballet that the realization dawned. She was resting on her haunches, back against the wall, watching Cal work with Katherine and Matt on the choreography of Scene 9. The scene marked the transition of Matt’s character from a clumsy, angry, despairing human being into a person who learns how to dance with the Spirit of Prayer. The choreography Cal was unfolding and teaching to the two dancers was a depiction of how prayer reshaped Matt’s attitude and moved him out of his self-defeating feelings into self-forgiveness and harmony. At the close of the scene and the end of the second movement, Matt is able for the first time to rise up out of a slightly stunted posture to stand tall and whole.


She felt her jaw go slack. This moment is what the ballet is about: when the power of prayer transforms the human being. Lightheadedness rolled over her. She had not grasped it when her own character, just two scenes earlier, had made a similar evolution away from fear, resistance, stubbornness, and frustration, and become able to move and dance in a mirror image of Katherine’s movements.


But that wasn’t all. The greater realization that sat lightly on her heart was the recognition of the spiritual peace that now resided in Matt’s character, which was the very same peace in which she had emerged from her morning’s meditation. Would I have found it without this ballet? Could I be dancing this ballet if I had not found it?


She watched Cal work with Matt, her heart suffused with gratitude, and tucked away in her memory these feelings and what they did to her body so that she could dance them later.


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About Jean Gilbertson


Jean Gilbertson is the author of Dancing on the Whisper of God, a novel that “brings to light the positive transformational power of prayer” [The US Review of Books]. Her blog “Everyday Spirituality,” founded in 2011, is at jeangilbertson.com. Her master’s degree in spirituality is from the School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University. In addition to writing books of her own, she assists other writers, providing editing, ghostwriting, and copy coaching. She has a broad background in helping individuals, solo professionals, and businesses write the words that reach their audiences. In all her endeavors, getting the words right is her passion.