One of the advantages of living in a house full of ladies has been Strictly Come Dancing. Over the years of watching the show, right from the first series in 2004, our little girl would jump up and down in excitement. Now she is 17, and I’ve a growing appreciation for the art form. The Foxtrot, the Lindy Hop & the American Smooth. Who can forget Austin Healey’s Pasa Doble or Chris & Ola’s Charleston?
Until today I had a few days when I felt progressively better each day. In my mind I felt like I was in a Viennese Waltz. Feeling positive, always stepping forward, right to the end of the dance. Having had a day feeling fairly awful today, I realise it’s a bit more complex. More like the Argentine Tango. With kicks & flicks, back & forward. In this steamy & complex dance I do battle with my own body, which pushes back, not letting me fully own the situation, sapping my energy at the most inconvenient moments but then retreating to give me hope.
The other day I went for a longer walk. I ventured out around the block, about 40 minutes in all. I described it as a jaunt and a friend said I should amble instead.
A 16th Century dictionary describes a ‘jaunt’ as to
‘tire a horse out by riding it up and down’
so a jaunt definitely seems to have the expectation of a fun trip with a degree of energy. I guess that’s a bit like the Viennese Waltz. Interestingly, to ‘amble’ is also a medieval French term to do with how you manage your horse, and means to go at a ‘steady, easy pace’.
So the question is how to go at a steady, easy pace when you’re much more used to a hell-for-leather, pack in as much as you can, pace.
Can I learn to Tango, when all I know is the Waltz?
But taking it to another level, the disappointment and frustration of going backwards a little in my recovery is kind of what makes me think of this journey as a fight. A different paradigm would be to see the rest as well as the activity as a gift from God. Eugene Peterson has a lot of good things to say in his book, “A long obedience in the same direction.” In it he encourages us to hope, not in our ability to dance well, but that Jesus is the Lord of the Dance.
Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying.
And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let God do it his way and in his time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand that God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it. That is not hoping in God but bullying God. “I pray to GOD-my life a prayer-and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.
Recognising that that Lord is active in my life right now, just as much as when life is more frenetic, is just what I need to learn a new dance.
I hope in the Lord and wait and watch.