The Art of Dancing (Slow, Fast, Alone)

I’m not normally a big word person, but there is one I really like. A large one called perichoresis. It means that God and the Son and the Spirit relate with each other in an eternal dance. They are each separate, with their feet and their moves, but are one in the movement itself, the rhythm and experience and overall feel of the thing.

I spoke with my friend Annie about this once, and afterwards she told me that she left and danced. She said she feels God when she is dancing, so she danced around an empty classroom and thought about God and the Son and the Spirit, about interrelation and the beauty of existence.

She and I have decided that we are all meant to relate with one another. To all trust one another. To all dance with one another.

We are children of the eternally dancing God, after all.

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In sixth grade my friend Michael had a birthday party and invited a bunch of people to it.

Everyone started slow dancing at the end, but I didn’t.

I danced by myself.

I swayed and swayed and moved and milled about and around couples and friends.

By myself and in my own rhythm.

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I was eating with my good friend Dan the other day. We were eating pizza and talking about life and girls and being leaders.

He said that he is definitely the least mature of his friends, that he chose to be friends with them because they are better than he is. He hopes they will make him a better person. But he thinks they will always be better than him. He will always be inadequate, an afterthought.

If he and his friends were New York City, he would be the smallest and dullest skyscraper. No matter how many floors they added to him or how many times they washed his windows, his friends would always be taller and brighter and more exciting.

If he was at Michael’s party instead of me, I think he would have been dancing by himself too.

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I am alone right now. I am sitting in my fancy coffee shop in the city, the one I go to when I need to get work done, and there are people all around me. Three ferns sit in the window in front of me, the one on the left shorter than the one in the middle and the one in the middle shorter than the one on the right. A lady is reading an art magazine; two friends are doing schoolwork at the bar.

I see them as I sit at my table and type these words.

It’s funny how often I write about friendship by myself in coffee shops.

I want to write next to someone but don’t want to bother anyone. They are probably busy.

I look at the ferns again, the one on the left is significantly shorter and duller. Dan and I must be the fern on the left.

A little piece of me is transported to dancing alone in sixth grade.

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Annie did not dance by herself in the empty classroom. She was dancing with God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

We are all dancing with God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s true. Annie and Dan and me and you. Each of us twisting and waltzing and throwing our hands in the air.

When we feel lonely or when we feel full, God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are inviting us to dance. Sometimes that looks like dancing in an empty classroom, other times that consists of broken prayers or words typed in busy coffee shops.

When we think low of ourselves, when our friends seem more popular or more exciting, we serve a God whose hand is reaching to us, asking us to join him on the dance floor. God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit hold our self-esteem and self-worth, we need to step onto the dance floor and experience it with them.

The secret is that our self-worth is secure and found in the fortress of the Dancing God. Strong, sure, and eternal.

 

As a Christian, when we are lonely, we are still sons and daughters of the Dancing God.

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But sometimes, even though we know we are not alone, we still feel lonely.

And as I’ve gone about learning more and more about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and my onset loneliness, I’ve learned another truth.

We are always with God, so we are never truly alone. But it is important to have people in our lives who can show us God’s rhythms, too.

My friend Hannah says she sees it in the way people get passionate about social justice and the way people show hospitality and love. She sees God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and learns a little more of what it looks like to dance.

She told me that being by yourself is important and good; we need to learn how to personally hear the footsteps of the Dancing God.

But we were also created to be in community. To be with people who can pick us up off our feet when we are tired. To see God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit in them. To learn from them.

People are not too busy to see me. People are not shinier and worthier than Dan. We are not afterthoughts.

Those are lies from the one who hates eternally dancing. Those are not the words of God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

As we dance, as we try and listen for the rhythm of grace, we need to ask others to join us. We are called to dance together with the eternally dancing God.