Finding the perichoresis at Earth Hour

Peri - around
Chorea - dance, (cf Choreography)
Perichorea - To dance around...

In the beginning was the Dance, and the Dance was in God, and the Dance was God...

An eternal Dance; the three persons of the Godhead dancing eternally, in an embrace of love, mutually giving and receiving. Always dancing.

In the beginning God created a Dancing partner...

The world was created in its own dance, and invited to join the Dance. But the lead dancers said No! and started their own dance. The hands of God are extended to restore the Dance, and inviting us to Dance: The Son, and the Spirit, the two hands of God.

The Dance for us has a beginning, and an end, and they are not the same. The beginning starts with anticipation, expectation, and desire; the end concludes with satisfaction, completion, and rest - until the next Dance.

We look upon the Dance of God, as he ever circles about us. We try to understand. We so often fail. The Dance goes on, and the part we have in the Dance goes on, though we are not Dancing, only dancing, yet that dancing seems to be incorprated despite our best efforts. We look, and the Dance seems to change, to reverse, to go back on itself - it repented the Lord that... - and then the Dance goes on, seeking it's goal, never seeking return to the starting point - I the Lord change not. This is the nature of Dance: round and round you go, sometimes to and sometimes fro, but the Dance goes on.

And us? Some of us sit as wallflowers. We won't dance under any circumstances. Some of us are dancing around our handbags in our own dance, while the Dance wheels about us. We dance on our own. But dances are communal, not individual, everyone knows that. Dances are free, though structured: God's Line Dancing.

Will you join the Dance? God's two hands, The Son and Spirit, await you, pull you, invite you, to take you into the Dance, to wheel you about, make you dizzy at times, exhilerated at times, exhausted at times, fearful at times. But it is The Dance.

I am the Lord of the Dance said he...

It was on the eve before Palm Sunday that I listened to Live’s Lightning Crashes on the way to Malate Church to celebrate Earth Hour with friends and comrades from Greenpeace.

Earth Hour is an annual global event with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. It is an initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature that encourages households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

And last Saturday darkness once more enveloped the Philippines for an hour on as a record-breaking 1076 towns, cities and municipalities joined the rest of the global community in making a symbolic call for united action against climate change.

After enjoying Chinese food at Wok In we went to Malate Church in time for the ecumenical prayer where the Creation narrative was read in Hebrew, Arabic and English by representatives of the several faith traditions that were represented in the event, thus liturgically opening the event with ardent prayers and remembrance to the Creator who in my Christian faith has self-revealed Himself through and within the created world and ultimately in Christ who is present in the midst of the Community of Faith that gathers in His name.

As we neared the 8:30 PM lights-out we were given time contemplate on the event’s significance while listening the ecstatic drumming of indigenous instruments that slowly faded out as the lights were switched off.

After two minutes of quiet reflection, the LED lights that read “Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency” in a 3 x 10 foot frame was switched on.

Musing about this now takes me to the value and use of symbols as a means of deconstructing how one is lead into a deconstruction and reorientation of reality. Culturally, light and darkness traditionally symbolize the dichotomy of good and evil, as they are often metaphorically related to black and white and day and night.

It was in the midst of darkness that light, albeit from a solar-powered installation of LED lights that visualized our aspiration. Here the darkness of a world wedged in a climate crisis was gleamed with the light of a solution that can be found in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Functioning as a herald the LED light installation was followed by glimmering lights that came from the torches and candles that formed a ring in the dark church-yard and for that hour, there was just dancing to the enchanting tune Philippine folk dances and indigenous dances from Mindanao and the Cordilleras which climaxed with the whole community dancing as we neared the end of the 60 minutes.

From my point of view what I find interesting is the Trinitarian imagery that was revealed by the event which was made very evident with the climatic dance of the community which points to Moltmann’s, understanding of the perichoretic2 life as a dance, which he defines as an ‘unconditional Yes to life to which he writes:
“When I love God I love the beauty of bodies, the rhythm of movements, the shining of eyes, the feelings, the scents, the sounds of all this protean creation. When I love you, my God, I want to embrace it all for I love you with all my senses in the creations of your love. ” 3
The circulatory character of dance – expressed as a “fluid motion of encircling, encompassing, permeating, enveloping, outstretching4” – is what it means for God to be intensely alive and vibrantly active in the eternity of His love. Trinitarian perichoresis, in which Father, Son and Spirit are united precisely because of their engagement in mutual, reciprocal and dynamic self-giving love, is, for Moltmann, a process of most perfect and intense empathy : it is a process whereby unity within the divine life derives intrinsically from its own inner circulation5.

It is while starring at this joyous dance that I am brought face to face with God who defines Himself as Father, Son and Spirit in a triunity of love as an an event of self-giving love -- as a life rich in relationships, full of movement and energy, a harmony of repetition in difference. God is not an isolated, motionless “being” – He is not a static unity, but a dynamic triunity. He is not a single voice, but a harmony; not a monologue, but a conversation; not a march, but a dance6 .

It was in the midst of this darkness that I along with the people I love, stood in darkness, as believing that our presence there are symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour. It was sheer joy to be one with the community with a common understanding on what is happening and what needs to be done.

But more importantly it is at the sight of the dance that I am reminded of this vibrant, energetic unity, where God is Father, Son and Spirit: joined together in perichoresis the Divine Dance.

  1. A few thoughts on reading Colin Gunton's The Promise of Trinitarian Theology.
  2. Derived from the theological term called Perichoresis which Refers to the mutual indwelling and relationship of the members of the Trinity. This concept is emphasized more by Eastern Christianity, but is affirmed by all orthodox branches of Trinitarian Christianity. St John of Damascus defines it such: “The subsistences [i.e., the three Persons] dwell and are established firmly in one another. For they are inseparable and cannot part from one another, but keep to their separate courses within one another, without coalescing or mingling, but cleaving to each other. For the Son is in the Father and the Spirit: and the Spirit in the Father and the Son: and the Father in the Son and the Spirit, but there is no coalescence or commingling or confusion. And there is one and the same motion: for there is one impulse and one motion of the three subsistences, which is not to be observed in any created nature” (John of Damascus, The Orthodox Faith, Book 1 Chapter xc14).
  3. Moltmann, Jurgen. The Source of Life: The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life, (London: SCM, 1997), p. 88
  4. LaCugna, Catherine. God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life, (New York: HarperOne, 1993), p. 272
  5. Moltmann, Jurgen. The Trinity and the Kingdom of God: The Doctrine of God, (London: SCM, 1981) p. 175
  6. Rahner, Karl. The Trinity (New York: Herder & Herder, 1970), p.9

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