There is a theme of dance, loss, enmity, and faithfulness running from the Old Testament lesson to the gospel. I don’t know quite what to make of it, because it keeps twirling away every time I think I’ve caught the rhythm, changing direction every time I find my footing.
Michal despised David when she saw him dance.
Herod salivated over Salome.
Herodias rubbed her hands like an evil chancellor in an animated fairy tale.
John lost his head.
Dancing then is dangerous? Seducing us to murder, drawing forth feelings of contempt and lust and disgust?
Except that the dancers are innocent of all of this. They dance, lost in the moment, lost in the ecstasy of being in their bodies or being in the moment or being next to the Ark of the Covenant, in the presence of God. They transcend their observers, the objects around them, the objectionable reactions of despisement, desire, devious plots of revenge.
It is those who refuse to be drawn into the dance, who remain reserved, resisting the music, who cause the trouble. Eventually, the worst happens, and the music dies, killed by the lust of Herod married to the bloodlust of Herodias.
So where does that leave us?
David dances on, laughing and leaping and dancing and singing and distributing a feast of fancy fruit and cake to the people, oblivious of Michal’s despising, oblivious of everything except the moment, the now, the Presence. It is tempting to follow him, but it is not easy to let go, to pull back from the window and run into the street and join the dance.
At the very least, though, perhaps we can smile as we watch, leaning out next to Michal, remembering the ruddy and handsome boy that he was, delighting in his laughter and his lightness, letting it lift our spirits, whether we lift our feet in the dance, or weight them to the ground, still fearful of losing our heads.