Don and I have been taking dance lessons. We are learning the foxtrot, the swing, and the waltz. Our teacher, Terry Johnson, is very patient and skilled at teaching two people who seldom find time to practice and who sometimes confuse the foxtrot with the waltz. When we started with Terry at his dance studio on Maple Street, we had planned on taking only a few lessons. That was nearly a year ago. We continue to dance not because we are especially good, but because dance is good for us. We arrive at the studio, put on our dance shoes, and as the music starts, we leave behind our daily work and worries as we swing, spin, and promenade across the floor.
I have always been a leader. In 1stgrade I took over organizing games on the playground and I have been leading ever since. Leading has never been my problem. Following is a different story. And as you know, in dance, someone leads and someone follows. Consequently, I had to learn to follow. Or as it has been said of Ginger Rogers, to do everything backwards and in high heels.
At first, I really didn’t get how to follow. It felt wrong. Somehow I should have been leading. But slowly over the weeks of dance lessons, I have not only learned to follow, I have grown to enjoy it. As the dance partner who follows, you have to stay completely aware of your partner’s unspoken “signals”. You cannot just dance along ignoring your partner or hoping they will keep up. You are continuously cognizant of his every move and must be ready to move with him. I was surprised at the freedom that following gave me. The freedom comes because it is your partner who is responsible for choosing the dance, remembering the steps, and keeping the two of you in the middle of the floor (and not crashing you against a wall as we have sometimes done). While he is figuring out the next dance and its steps, you are free to move, to simply follow. This relinquishment of control results in a welcome freedom.
Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” Actually, the Gospel writers have Jesus saying the words “follow me” 23 times. We often think of following Jesus as work or effort—as if following can only be a conscious choice and one that requires changing who we are and what we choose to do. But why? Following on the dance floor doesn’t change me—it releases me. Following lends itself to self expression and a certain shared intimacy with one’s partner. Would following Jesus have the same freedom as it does in the waltz or the foxtrot if we thought of our faith journey as a dance and not a task? Could following Jesus give us a life of grace-full steps, smooth turns and beautiful spins?
What would happen if you saw your faith as a dance? It could mean a life lived in God’s presence—as close as your dance partner. You would not be awaiting instructions or marching orders, but rather sensing an unspoken signal and then twirling, stepping, spinning, gliding in the arms of the One you love. Dance a little this week. Experience the joy of following.
See You in the Pews!