Life Is A Circle Dance

heart015Lori Mac and friends led us in a Sacred Dance Workshop after Sunday service. The dances were from Sufi, Native American, and Celtic traditions. Maybe it was because it was St. Patrick’s Day, or because Lori did such a great job,  but I came away believing that circles are magic. 

Think about it. We see the image of the circle in Nature, in Spirit and in Art. Consider apple pie, mothers, Easter eggs, gift exchanges, hugging, halos, polka dots, and circle dancing, and you will see only perfection.

The circle appears over and over again in the art of all cultures. Drawing circles begins early and we are such proud parents when our child’s random lines begin to complete themselves and look more like lopsided circles. In my college art education classes I learned that a child’s intelligence can be measured by how early she closes her lines and creates her first primitive circle.

Circle dances are a part of every culture I know about. I love the old movies where the natives are dressed in wild costumes and they beat their drums and jump up and down and stomp around in a circle. Those movies were set in Africa, India or in the American West. The covered wagon pioneers in the Westerns also stomped around in circles but for some reason that was called square dancing.

Shaker dances were mostly circles, so were polkas, and Marie Antoinette’s minuet. The Busby Berkley musicals used circles to illustrate it all; magic, perfection, connection and creative energy. So do the Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall fame.

By the way, Lori was a Rockette for many years before becoming a Religious Science practitioner and ministerial student. And watching our circle dances yesterday taught me why all those Rockettes needed to be regulated for height. Our dance participants came in all sizes so some of the moves between a five foot two dancer and her six foot two partner were quite a stretch.

Dance is not the only art form that depends on the circle.  Visual arts abound with circular images.Consider the nudes by Rubens. Those ladies are all soft pink circles. So are the apples and peaches in a Cezanne still life.

The gorgeous mandalas of Asian art are examples of perfection and the connection they celebrate is with Spirit. One of the best known images in Western Renaissance paintings is Mother Mary holding her child; if you reduce those paintings to basic forms you see circles of color and light travelling over the canvas.

Circles are everywhere. In the bullseye target on the archery field, in King Arthur’s Court, in the giant pot that three witches stir as they predict McBeth’s future. Today, just for fun, look around and see how many circles you can count. Start with our shrinking world.

The circle also means means respect and sharing as equals – whether in the tribal council of wise men or the family intervention meeting re: Uncle’s drinking. We instinctively know a circle means equality of responsibility and respect.

Sitting in the round, whether in large or small circles, infers equality of opinion in all times and in all places of the world. I wish more political meetings started in a circle instead of a head table with speakers and an audience. I think the world would be better.

Generally speaking, circles feel safer than rows. Generally speaking, conversation flows easier in circles. Generally speaking, love is easier to express, either silently or aloud. It’s all about the energy flow. Energy moves from one to the other more easily when we are connected in a circle. Loving energy is God expressing through our connection to each other and we need to express and enjoy God. That is our true purpose.

As I watched Lori and my other friends dance, I felt included even if I couldn’t dance. Their loving energy was swirling all around the room and it included we few who were not dancing. None of us was left outside the magical God’s Energy Circle.

I could see the love moving around the room. One of the leaders said, “This is a participation dance, not a performance” and that defined the precious feeling of the event. If someone missed a beat, no one missed a second beat by reacting.  No laughter. No frowns. Just acceptance and catching up. I would like to feel that acceptance everywhere I go.Wouldn’t you?

What if we could bring that loving energy to our freeways? Of course, anyone who has ever been on one of those circular freeway patterns in the center of some strange city knows that not all circles are happy places. But the potential is there. That’s good to know. And the seed is planted. Moving on.

Love and cooperation are part of circle magic. Another part is a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood or union with each other.  It can be very strengthening to join hands in solidarity. There is magic in standing up for what you believe as a group. The sum instantly becomes greater than its parts. The old hymn, “Let the circle be unbroken” expresses that magic very well.

Completion is inherent in a circle although it does not necessarily mean an end or finish. Actually, a strong circle is never ending and it can have eternal, ever-widening impact on others. I think of the way the Transcendentalist Circle ripples out over our times almost two hundred years later.

Circles are unending and they can also be forever flexible. Our sacred dance circle was able to expand or contract easily. People did come and go and they were accepted and released. My favorite dance was Celtic and we sang the words, “Merry come and Merry part and Merry meet again.” It seemed like a perfect model for relationships.

Circles also mean creation. The religions that depend on the feminine creative principle make much of the circle. It is the Chalice of life, the Holy Grail and the true center of life.  Certainly life begins with an egg and although it also requires a wiggling sperm, the circle image is reinforced in the coupling.

I enjoyed every moment of the Sacred Dance Workshop and I thank Lori for bringing it to the Center. It helped me appreciate life even more and I remembered that someone once told me Hindus say that what we call life is actually the Gods dancing. If so, I’m sure they are dancing in a circle.

Ask Yourself

What are the important circles in your life?

Would you like to expand any of your circles?

Would you like to create any new circles?