Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Life's a Dance

I discovered ballroom and swing dancing in college. I still remember the first waltz I danced that really felt comfortable. I stopped focusing on what my feet were doing, and all of a sudden I was flying across the room. Everything was a breathless, beautiful blur. It was as though a door had opened somewhere inside me and my joyful soul had soared through it and up to the stars. I have had many other dances since that made me feel that way. When I'm able to move beyond the technicalities of the dance, I get the chance to feel something that transcends physical movement and to connect with my partner in a fun (and sometimes even intense) way.

When it comes to social dancing, having a great dance isn't necessarily about knowing the right steps. The beauty of social dance is that it isn't a choreographed performance—it's a conversation between two dance partners. The steps are the vocabulary, yes, but what's really going on is the give and take between two connected bodies. The lead (traditionally the man) initiates a movement, and the follow (traditionally the woman) responds. In order for me to have a really special dance, I need to have a good connection to the lead. We need to have a good frame so I can feel his movements, he needs to give me clear cues through his body language, and I need to trust him implicitly and be willing to follow wherever he takes us, even if I don't know the precise steps to the moves he's leading. I have to stop looking at my feet and instead follow the movement of my partner's body. If he's a good lead, he will be able to move me from my center and my feet will intuitively keep up. When a dance really clicks, I don't have to think about what I'm doing. Sure, I might stumble a time or two, but I will dance on.

Sometimes my life feels like a dance. God is my invisible partner, spinning and twirling me through all the pleasures and challenges of my life. When my connection to God is good, He can move me effortlessly through any obstacle and I dance right on through, often unaware of the subtle hand that guides me. When my dance frame collapses, I start to miss steps and sometimes the dance briefly falls apart. God is a patient dance partner, however, and He inevitably helps me get back into step. As long as I trust God, it doesn't matter if I miss a step or two because He'll still keep me going in the right direction. It's kind of a relief, really, knowing that I'm not solely responsible for making it a good dance. I don't have to learn a bunch of fancy footwork and be some kind of overachiever to have a meaningful experience. All I have to do is be myself and focus on being a responsive partner, and God will give me the dance of a lifetime.

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