Last Friday I tried something new: ballroom dancing!
A small studio in town offers lessons during the day and an open dance floor at night. Teenagers in jeans, older men in spats, graceful Asian women in butterfly-twirling skirts toe-tapped and spun on the shiny wooden floor under the colorful shifting lights. The music alternated from Latin to pop as the quickstep, the two-step, the tango, the waltz were called. Far from the hormonal gyrating demonstrated on most dance floors, this was an art form–as structured as a fencing match, as regulated as a bicycle built for two, yet as flowing as the strains of music playing over the loudspeakers.
Graceful yet rigid, moving abruptly from fast-paced to legato, it was as fun to watch as to do. The best part was watching the couples who were equally matched in skill–not just executing the sequence of steps correctly, but playing it up with fun and flair. The experts ad-libbed their way through and made it look effortless. I myself have a long way to go before I attain that level of ease. For me, it was a victory to navigate a salsa spin without falling over.
|Photo credit: Porfirio Landeros|
I discovered something interesting, though. Several experienced dancers invited me to try the cha-cha, the two-step, East Coast swing–dances I’ve never tried before. In spite of my protests, they insisted I could do it. And to my shock, they were right.
Why? Because in the rigorous art form of pair dancing, there’s the amazing experience of being led. I thought successful dancing was about remembering all the right steps and individually keeping perfect time with the music. Not so. If your partner knows the steps and knows how to lead, you hardly need to think at all–just respond to the the subtle pressure of hands and wrists, follow the gentle pull of feet and shoulders.
For me, that was a total image of following God. When you’re a lone ballerina or hip-hop dancer, it’s fully up to you to remember the routine, execute all the steps perfectly. But when you’re with Someone who knows the dance better than you do, Someone strong yet filled with grace and control, your job is just to listen to Him–to feel for His movements and just respond, just follow. It’s perichoresis: a Greek word one of my theology professors defined as the divine dance. It makes life more than just a challenging routine, a performance: it makes it a beautiful, intricate dance for two.
I can imagine God singing the words in this lovely clip from the 2006 film Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. In just 50 seconds, it’s everything I wanted to say:
What are your thoughts? How is life with God like dancing? Are there other parts of life where the same parallel shows up?