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Occasionally, to give myself a treat and a smile of delight, if not an outright guffaw, I click on YouTube.
I was not disappointed when I viewed a portion of the Greek Festival in Ottawa, Canada. The band was happily playing its tunes when a man wearing a Greek fisherman’s cap (reminding me of Hubby Dear with his chapeau) approached the musicians. He must have requested a traditional dance. Whatever happened, the crowds of onlookers, folks walking the street and pavement, were apparently unaware of anything unusual, until the gentleman began to dance. There he was, a lone frolicker amid a horde of bystanders.
Unabashed, he slowly made his turns and moves, modeling ancient steps trod by his ancestors. Little by little, the crowd slowed. Then they stopped to watch as he maneuvered his way across the street and back again.
He dipped and swayed, raised his hands and lowered them, hopped on one foot, then the other. He and the dance were one. Entranced, the crowd became individuals when a woman moved from curbside to the middle of the street. Coming to the dancer’s side, she joined him as he moved rhythmically with the music.
Moments later she was joined by another individual and yet another, until a line of dancers formed. Watching his every step, they imitated his interpretation. More joined. Some were adept at improvising. Others cast their eyes to the dancer’s feet and steadfastly tried to conform their steps to his.
A long line of informal hoofers became multiple bands of people who impulsively linked arms as they straightened their shoulders like ballerinas on parade. The lines changed from a vertical vision of partners side-by-side to a circle of dancers. The circle morphed into multiple rings of movement.
The music quickened. Accordingly, the dancers’ steps accelerated. Excitement grew. Those who could not join remained on the sidelines. They stayed there, not as statues unmoved by what they were experiencing but as companions, clapping enthusiastically in affirmation of the happiness they felt. A giant roar exploded from their lips and those of the dancers. “Opa” they shouted gleefully.
For those few moments, they were one. They were a unity of dancers and watchers, old and young, Greek and non-Greek. They were alive with the joy of living. Nothing else mattered. Appearing to be carefree, they were vibrantly caring that the dance be danced. They wanted the music to fill their very being—and knew that their desire was both fulfilled and shared.
My feet were tapping as I watched, not from Ottawa’s sidewalk but from my computer screen. My spirits were lifted no less than theirs. All it took was one brave person who felt the music and soared with it.
I was tempted to hit replay and deepen my enjoyment; however, I realized this was more than a dance in the street. It was more than the fun and frolic of a festival. This was a metaphor for the whirling, twirling, prancing, cavorting pirouette of life. So, I sat before my computer and mused on the event.
I got stuck on the fact it only takes one bravely enthusiastic person to start the dance. It takes one person who enters into the divine spark of all creation and moves in tandem with it. It takes one person who is willing to be alone among many, willing to take a chance on making a mistake, on being judged foolish or proud or silly. It takes only one person, someone who does more than hear the music, someone who allows the beauty of humanity become the harmony of Being.
So often we get mired in mediocrity. We get bogged down in fear of what others may think. We get stuck in the “same ole...same ole” of daily drudgery. We forget that we are meant to dance.
As I type this, I see the bumper sticker that adhered to a friend’s car. It read, “I’d rather be dancing.” Until now, I took it at face value, knowing that she loved the lively movement, the grace in performing. As I think about it, I wonder why she didn’t follow her heart. If we’d rather be dancing, why don’t we dance? If we’d rather not, perhaps we could examine why we are averse to it.
Another thought pops into my head. It is a hymn that describes Jesus as the Lord of the Dance. As Lord of the life dance, he asks us to dance wherever we may be, not because we are good at it, but because he is the Lord of our dance.
He was the one, lone dancer who stepped out from the crowd of bystanders to give witness to the music of divinity. He moved with integrity, authenticity, and grace. His mission was to show us how to move, how to match our steps to the sound and silence of godliness.
At first, there were only those who watched in silent admiration, awe, and sometimes anguish. The steps are not so easily mastered. The music does not swiftly inspire movement. Similarly, we watch, fearful in our faithfulness. However, the dancer did not stop. The dancer continued to show us how to move in harmony with the music, not to fight it.
We learn to listen. We learn to notice our vertical lines of side-by-side partnering with each other and God. In seemingly spontaneous movement, we change our lines into circles, circles of people, arm-in-arm, holding each other up, supporting each other as we dance together. “Abba” we cry, as children to our Parent God. “Abba, look at us! We’re dancing! We’re together in encircling love! We’re your family, brothers and sisters.” And, everybody can see it. When we yell “Abba,” they do too, even if they aren’t dancing our dance with us. Somehow, they are a part of us.
The dancer moves away from the group, letting the wonder of the moment sink be fully realized. He remains on the sidelines, watching as the dance continues. He smiles with the joy of a mission accomplished and whispers, “Abba, look at me! I did it!”
Fran Salone-Pelletier has a master’s degree in theology and is the author of Awakening to God: The Sunday Readings in Our Lives [a trilogy of Scriptural meditations], lead chaplain at Brunswick Novant Medical Center, religious educator, retreat leader, lecturer and grandmother of four. She can be reached at email@example.com.