Dancing with Dionysus
Posted December 15, 2010on:
Last night I dreamt I danced with Dionysus. We met at a conference of some sort, and his nametag said, “Dion.” He was handsome, dashing, winsome, youthful. We flirted across the room, startled by chance connections. We talked with delight about subjects of pleasure and indulgence. There was intrigue, but always innocence.
When we arrived at the party, I asked if he knew how to dance. He took my hand and led me onto the floor for polkas and swings and foxtrots and waltzes with pivots. He swept me off my feet and made me feel giddy and girlish. We both wanted to linger with this bliss. I told him it was my birthday, and he had given me a great celebration.
When the evening ended, there was a choice to be made. Would I follow him? I didn’t even have to say the words: he knew I could not, would not go with him, to run away for a life of dancing and parties. I knew in a new and deeper way that, in spite of the elation of the evening, I did not want to spend my birthday dancing with a stranger. I still yearned to come home to my husband and son, a homemade cake and dirty dishes in the sink. My life, even with its burdens and responsibilities and stresses, was where I wanted to be. It had meaning and purpose and mission. I follow another God, who places stringent demands on me but makes my life matter in the lives of others. I am happy in my life and my chosen path.
I contemplated kissing him, not as a prelude but as a farewell. As I reached to embrace him, Dionysus buried his face in my shoulder and wept. It became clear that he also had a settled life to return to, although I do not know if he was happy or unhappy in it. As he sobbed into my shoulder, I woke up.
I awoke feeling grateful for the night of dancing and nostalgic for my youth, but also profoundly at home in my own grown-up life and relationships and responsibilities, even with the mess and stress they bring. Dionysus, the god of ecstasy and epiphany, the stranger who comes, gave me a great bacchanalia. The party was a gift, and it made me grateful to return home again. One night with Dionysus, and I was eager to return to Deus, Yahweh, the God of Hope and Sacrifice, the God who also comes—not to help us escape, but to save and to sanctify.
What a great dream-gift to start out my birthday morning.