The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer


Today we look at another gem by the lady known as Oriah Mountain Dreamer. The Dance is her second poem after The Invitation. This is what she has to say about this poem:

“The Dance is the story of how we can live soulfully on a daily basis. It is the story of my discovery that the question is not “Why are we so infrequently the people we want to be?” but rather “Why do we so infrequently want to be the people we really are?” It is the story of discovering why our quest for self-improvement does not lead to happiness or better lives or a more peaceful, just world. It is the story of finding who we really are, becoming all we are and knowing it is enough. It is the story of our struggles with those things that make it hard to remember who and what we really are, the places where is easy to become afraid-in our culture, the places where we deal with sex and death and money and power.

The stories, reflections and meditations in The Dance ask us to go further than we did in The Invitation-beyond the longing to the living, beneath the desire to the deeper ache and the knowledge that guides us in living true to what we are. It is the story of my human struggle to live with the shock of being awake, if only for intermittent moments, guided by the spirit of those wonderful lines by Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks:

There are lovers content with longing.
I’m not one of them.”




The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer


I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don’t jump up and shout, “Yes, this is what I want! Let’s do it!”
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.

Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiraling down into the ache within the ache,
and I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, every day.

Don’t tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without abandoning yourself when
you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.

Tell me a story of who you are,
and see who I am in the stories I live.
And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.

Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next. . .

I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall, to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?

And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept the clear, healthy boundaries that
help us live side by side with each other, let us risk remembering that we never stop silently
those we once loved out loud.

Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make
my heart whole again and again.

Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us shout that soul’s desires have
too high a price,
let us remind each other that it is never about the money.

Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs
you want our children’s children to remember.
And I will show you how I struggle not to change the world,
but to love it.

Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging.
Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.

And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.

Don’t say, “Yes!”
Just take my hand and dance with me.




These powerful lines leave me breathless always. The poet is basically asking us to bare our inner souls to ourselves. Get to know yourself not just in your peaks but also in your darkest lows. Accept yourself for who you are. Love yourself unconditionally. Find your peace within. Be willing to take risks in order to follow your heart. Don’t be afraid of falling, just pick yourself up and keep moving. As long as you know what it is that you seek, there is no stopping you. Like the poet implores, just say YES and Dance with me!



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