Masks of gold, crimson and blue.
Masks of silver and a sequin too few.
Masks of velvet clipped with a feather.
Masks to wear no matter the weather
There is not a star in the sky bright enough to illuminate that secrets lie beneath the mask
And so in we walked with our heads held high filled with spirits of anticipation. As organisers of the Christopher West Conference the journey to this day had led us to wear face of patience in spite of frustration, peace in spite of anxiety and excitement in spite of exhaustion. Christopher at times played the role of the court jester. With his light and pleasant humour he helped us to leave our nervousness behind. Then was it easier for all to begin to listen for God’s song so often muted by the roars of the world. Most of us, possibly to the embarrassment of others, enjoy dancing. Indeed there is no greater feeling of “letting loose” than swaying, stomping and shaking to the strumming of a guitar and the beating of a drum. God invites us to dance with Him. Much deeper, He invites us to dance forever to a tune of endless joy. How difficult it is for us to hear this. God longs for us to respond to this invitation, to hear this music and to be lost in its rhythm.
The gold-strapped heels in my cluttered closet have seen many dance floors. With them I have seen moves beautifully suited to a jam of Motown records. Others prefer to Waltz and even Salsa. But what were to happen if one were to walk in and see the crowd dancing, clapping and gyrating but not a sound of music to be heard? “Insane!” one would call them and “Crazy” another would say. “Who dances without a beat?” Is this not the manner in which the lives of the saints are viewed? We see them tapping their toes and snapping their fingers right in tune with God’s song. We hear not the melody and, as is often said, we think the dancers mad.
I’m certain that many people, knowingly or unknowingly, have the desire to dance with God. And to be fair, most of us are trying really hard but dancing can be tiring. I have often left the dance floor sweaty and leaving the others to finish the song. I am then left to clear up what is left of my make-up. Dancing in tune with God’s song can be hard. Sometimes you step on your own feet. At times you bump into other dancers accidentally. Dancing requires us to take off our masks and let God see the sweat and smudged eyeliner. This came as a surprise to me. So much of my prayer life was giving God a face that I thought He wanted to see. Christopher, no longer in his role of the court jester but now as a masterful musician, invites us to see the masks that we wear. He is forthcoming about his own struggles with this. He spent many years believing himself to be the perfect father and husband. Oh how agonising it was to find that this was not so. But it was there in his nakedness that he was able to and continues to be honest with God. We are all called to have this same nakedness. We are to be raw and uncensored. That is true prayer.