Do you like to dance?
I must admit, my senses love it, but my uncoordinated body seldom cooperates with the cool vision in my head. In the depths of my soul, a driving rhythm calls me out onto the dance floor. My heart and mind quicken, and I feel an overwhelming desire to move to the music, to give myself to it. To celebrate being alive!
Alas, I am one of the unlucky few born without the ability to follow a musical beat. I hear the beat, but my toes, fingers and arms refuse to keep time. It makes for interesting viewing for those watching from the sidelines.
As for this poor dancer, my clumsy body’s inability to join in the dance and celebrate in a manner both appealing and appropriate is a source of continuing embarrassment.
I think dancing must be one of the most human ways in which we celebrate being alive. It may be one of the earliest responses we have to joy.
I try to hold onto that thought when I am about two beats behind everyone else on the dance floor.
I was thinking about humanity’s love of dancing today while working on a piece of Bible journaling. Psalm 30:11 says, “You have turned my mourning into dancing.” I like this verse. How often in life do we cry? We cry out while enduring personal loss. We cry in sympathy as those we love experience hard times. We continually cry out against injustice.
Whatever the reason, we cry. We mourn.
And then, like a sunny morning after too many days of dark, lashing raindrops, we suddenly experience joy. Not merely a calmness of spirit, but unexpected and deep, pulsating joy. The kind of joy that makes us want to leap up in unrestrained, ecstatic movement! We want to laugh! We want to love!
We want to join the dance of life again.
One of the stories of the Old Testament that has always struck me with its authenticity is that of King David and his joyful, undignified dance before the Lord when he rescued the Ark of God and carried it into Jerusalem.
For several decades, the Ark had been in enemy hands, and the people of Israel deeply mourned its loss. You see, the Ark signified to Israel God’s presence in their midst. Without it, they felt anchorless – they felt as though they were orphans.
With the Ark restored to Israel, both David and the people rejoiced. It was a great occasion, full of pageantry and celebration. Giving in to his joy, David put aside both crown and royal garb, and publicly danced before the Lord clad only in lowly linen. His wife, watching from a window, was appalled at his lack of dignity, and it was the end of their marriage.
There are always those who will frown when you dance with joy.
You know what? I rather like the idea of David leaping and prancing with happy abandon before his God. The spontaneity of it, the utter joy of the moment encourages me. It reminds me that no matter how undignified my own body’s movements, the expression of joy is what matters. It is the heart’s physical expression of exaltation that’s important, not the judgment of those who sit on the sidelines and make censorious comments.
This evening, I finished watching the Stephen King miniseries, ’11.22.63.’ It was an engaging show, but not one that really tugged at my heart until the very end. At the conclusion of the last episode, one of the main characters recited a poem:
We did not ask for this room or this music; we were invited in.
Therefore, because the dark surrounds us,
Let us turn our faces toward the light.
Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty.
We have been given pain to be astounded by joy.
We have been given life to deny death.
We did not ask for this room or this music.
But because we are here, let us dance.
I loved this! The party, arranged long before any of us were born, awaits us. We have the invitation. Will we dance? Or will we be wallflowers, sitting in lonely chairs, watching and passing judgment on those who kick up their heels and dance to a tune that would call us in – if only we would let it. If only we could drop our awareness of ‘self’ just long enough to give in to the joy of life, the actual gift of ‘being.’
With Easter season upon us, I remember a song a wonderful man used to sing with those of us who attended his church in our youth. This man, our now departed pastor, always encouraged us to let our hearts and souls dance. He reminded us that someone greater than us also had to contend with harsh judgment and restrictions that others sought to place upon Him.
I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon, and the stars, and the Sun
I came down from Heaven and I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth.
I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee
They would not dance, they wouldn’t follow me
So I danced for the fishermen James and John
They came with me and the Dance went on.
I danced on the Sabbath and cured the lame
The holy people, they said it was a shame!
They whipped and stripped and then hung me high
Left me there on a cross to die!
I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone
But I am the Lord of the Dance and I still go on!
Dance then, wherever you may be
For I am the Lord of the Dance, said he!
I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he!
Dancing is the purest expression of joy, I think. I hope you find laughter and joy during the coming week – and most of all, I hope you kick up your heels and dance a little. You may feel like you weren’t invited to the dance, but the party awaits you. Dance like no one is watching! Laugh! Bubble over with joy!
The dance goes on. You are here but for a brief moment. Spend as much of it as you can in your own unique and crazy, joyful dance.
©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer
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