If someone came to me with the request “teach me to dance” I’d have nothing. Nothing. I can’t do the two-step, the tango, the twist. None of them. I’d be a sorry excuse for a dance instructor.
But truth be told, I dance every day of my life. And so do you.
We dance between the good and the bad, between lives that feel too slow and those that feel out-of-control. We dance along the line of caring for our families living afar and rooting deeply into those in our immediate worlds, dance the line of caring for our own souls while also giving of them to others. Dance, dance, dance.
I kinda love the metaphor of life being a dance. Think of it: it’s full of art and grace, better together, exhausting and invigorating all at the same time, and in the words of that good ‘ole country song, thinking of life as a dance reminds me that “sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.”
Yesterday I stood witness as a soul publicly proclaimed Jesus through baptism. All the dance moves I don’t even know kicked free in my heart. That was a joy I can hardly explain. A dance I’d love to keep on repeat. But other types of dances are just as true. A few months ago, a message popped on my phone screen bearing news no one wants to hear. My soul slipped into a slow durge of grief and pain, and so began a season where a Mennonite girl who can’t even dance had to waltz her way through all manner of emotions.
I’m taking some time today to reflect on this dance called my life. On the twists and the trips, the years of practice and the brief moments on stage. And sitting here thinking brings one thing to the front: it all mattered. Every moment. Not a single movement of this dance of life has been without value.
It’s not hard to recall the big moments where we are poignantly aware that something substantial was taking place – that we’re at a crucial moment in the dance. I think of hearing my name called as I walk across the stage at my college graduation, hugging the necks of my favorite people before boarding a flight holding a one-way ticket, standing at the altar watching my sister walk toward her groom, watching students donned in cap and gown march to Pomp and Circumstance – these kind of moments are blazed in my head and heart. Where somewhere deep inside I know that this is a part of the movement that will be remembered. This is a moment the dance has been building towards.
And in the in-between, there’ve been thousands of seemingly dull dances. All so ordinary. So mundane. So, nothing.
But it wasn’t. They aren’t. It’s in those moments trust is built, joy is cultivated, muscle memory is developed. Sanctification happens in the ordinary. Our feet are readied for the big moments by the small, ordinary practice sessions.
In her book, The Liturgy of the Ordinary, (go VA book club!) Tish Warren Smith writes of seeing a sign which read “Everyone wants a revolution, but no one wants to do the dishes.” She calls us not to overlook the daily, repetitive, ordinary parts of life, for in those, virtue is tended and grown. “It’s in the dailiness of the Christian faith . . . that God’s transformation takes root and grows.” (p.35)
I need to be reminded that the daily matters, not only because it prepares me for the big, visible moments, but also because this is where my Father and I learn to dance together. I learn to lean, to follow, to yield. This matters because this is where relationship is built and tended and grown. This is where I want to be.
So no matter where you are today in this dance of life – if you’re pulling off a long-practiced move, an off-the-cuff impromptu, a perfectly choreographed masterpiece in order to keep all the plates spinning, or if you’re doing an ordinary dish-washing twirl, it matters.
So go dance your heart out. Even if you have no idea how.
How have ordinary parts of your life prepared you for public moments?