Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Brush with Dance

            In a Secret Place devotional, Norma Vera writes about attending a dance recital where a toddler—not part of the class—danced in the aisle throughout the event, oblivious to everything but the music. 

            Reading that reminded me of my own brush(es) with dance.

            One December, a bunch of us packed a borrowed church van—which by the way, had no heat—and drove to Philly for a performance of the Young Messiah. The "Hallelujah Chorus" overwhelmed me as a dancer, garbed in layers of floaty white, twirled to the joyful music. I wanted to be that woman, unreservedly worshiping God.

            Several years later at a women’s conference, I leaped at the opportunity to participate in a worship dance class. Our instructor taught us simple motions to accompany a powerful, encouraging song. (Simple, but unfamiliar to my muscles. I could barely walk or move my arms afterward.) On Sunday morning I experienced my Young Messiah moment as we danced to the Lord in the worship service. 

            Pure joy.

            People don’t dance in my church. If we did, someone would call 9-1-1. So I’d not repeated that experience until I left the United States with my students and my co-chaperones.

            In a Jamaican church, I encountered the dancing grannies. One especially looked like an old-fashioned, reserved grandmotherly type with her graying hair and conservative dark green skirt and jacket. But when the music started, watch out! Those grannies pulled as out of our seats, and soon we were all awkwardly dancing in the aisles. No way could we match their moves, though. Not even the seventeen-year-olds.

            I’ve danced in that same Jamaican church three times now (and Grandma always wears the same dark green suit), but when I’m stateside I worship in a stately (spelled b-o-r-i-n-g) fashion. 

            However, a few years ago, Donna Bridge of Kingdom Kidz taught me to use puppets in a ministry team. To my surprise, my puppets are not at all reserved in expressing their praise to God. They clap, lift their hands, and dance exuberantly…while behind the curtain I tap my feet and move to the music. 

Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Psalm 142:7, NIV