The Dance of Spirit

Ursula Perry in Natosha Washington’s “say their names (part i)”. Photo from

I recently heard this about the two-halves of our life:

The first half is a dance of survival, where as the second half is a dance of spirit.

Our first half is focused on our identity and all that it encompasses. It parallels with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, connecting to the first four stages of Physiological, Safety, Love and belong, and Esteem.maslow-hierachy-of-needs-min.jpg

The second half moves us, if we are as Richard Rohr says, “on track,” to self-actualization. We yearn to connect to God and to one another. We are in-spirit, connected to God and to our soul.

Many do not get here. They are stuck both by external and internal factors. While all the stages are necessary and not inherently bad in itself, they are not meant for us to remain. We are called to move from survival to living, from a false self to a true self.

Over the weekend, I pondered this idea of the two halves of my life, recognizing that I am slowly moving into my halftime (God-willing).

I can easily get stuck in the world of Esteem and Love and Belonging, often triggered by the external and internal voices that serve as temptations and distractions.

Yet, I am also yearning for that union with God. I yearn for that union with others, and it truly grows each day.

This led me to two insights that I believe you may resonate with as you reflect on your own life journey.

A divided world

I am frustrated by our political and religious division. It is becoming overwhelming.

As voices claim authority and righteousness, as those in power point fingers and create division, as the marginalized are further impacted, I feel overwhelmed by the intolerant, hateful, hurtful tones that fill our ears and tear up our eyes each and every day.

I feel helpless at times, unsure of what I can do other than to listen and to respond with justice and love. It often feels as if it isn’t enough.


It is difficult to not get caught up in the identities that we posses, both in our professional and personal worlds. It is easy to feel as if we have to continue to do and to accomplish to be successful.

I saw a quote this weekend that spoke to the reluctance to taking a sick day, or the regret in taking one, that speaks to the twisted sense of life and self. We sacrifice what matters most in order to succeed. This does not mean that we cannot and should not be responsible to our work and tasks, but what good does it do us when we are slowly hurting ourselves or those closes to us.

We seek to strive for what is the next step in the ladder, the next bonus, the fancy car or bigger home, and the next statement of affirmation or appreciation.

We keep climbing and seeking instead of finding rest and gratitude in the day before us.

An Answer

As I reflected on all of this during the heat wave that crippled the New York area, I found an answer this morning.

My almost three-year old daughter snuggled into my arms and rested her head on my chest earlier this morning. She doesn’t do this too often, so no one had to remind me to soak in this love like a sponge.

The answer struck me in this early morning encounter. I didn’t have to do anything for my daughter to gain her love, I just had to be.

Perhaps the second half of life invites us to do just that- to simply be.

To be open to the love that is all around, to be open to the God that walks besides us and within us. To be open to giving love to all, even those who disagree. To be a light in the darkness, a glimmer of hope in times of despair.

This does not mean we must wait to the second half to achieve such peace, as those days are not guaranteed. It remains an invitation that is always present for us, and within us, to respond with love by simply being our truest of selves.

This state of being may call you into action. It may call you into prayer.

As the Christian scripture reminds us, we may be at times Mary and at times Martha, one  who sits with open ears and eyes before the presence of God, and one who wishes to serve God in every possible way.

Mary and Martha-Qi.JPG

The second half of life invites us into a dance of spirit, a dance where God is our partner. This is not just an invitation for when we hit middle age, but one that is before us at all times.

As the suffering continues, as will the confusion, the hurt, and the pain, may we be wise enough to let God take the lead, so we can simply be, and to follow God’s lead with authentic trust and faith.

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