I walk through tall Redwoods where limbs stretch toward the heavens and roots grasp deep within the earth. For hundreds of years these grand fellows have whispered stories of song and hope. The paths are worn and narrow as they wind through corridors of shadows. I feel small among them.
My steps are intentional as I make my way toward a clearing in the woods where there is a large pond with a small wooden boat, whose paint has been chipped away from years of neglect; it is tied to an old dock. The clanging of rope against wood contrasts to the levity of wooden steeples. The symphony of sound and wind inspires the dance of life against tender leaves.
I close my eyes and imagine the scene in an imagination vibrant of life and color where the humble simplicity of a joyful heart radiates colors reminiscent of stained glass windows. As if replicating the swaying of golden grass, my body moves to the beating of tunes hummed in open cathedrals as I begin to dance.
You have stumbled upon a website you know nothing about from a writer you know even less about. Who am I? A follower of Christ, a lover of jeeps, a romantic and someone who loves to dance. Like an onion through layers of experience, I seek to introduce my reader into a personal dialog of a relationship where the church is it's people and the cross runs both horizontally and vertically with people who point not to themselves but to a savior.
If you are looking for a perfect example of someone who has it all put together with an easy-to-read "how to" booklet on the verses of faith, you will not find it with me. I have been a volunteer youth worker on and off the court for almost twenty years, a wife, mother, friend and full-time employee. I have held positions inside and outside of the church and in my community. I seek not to sell you anything but rather to point you to a story and a promise. It is one that calls you through tall forests of the unknown shadows of places forgotten through trails of opened lit- rooms of stained glass windows into small boats that bring you to still waters and streams of grace.
These three movie quotes best describe the silly semantics of me:
For as long as I can remember I loved to dance. Petals as wishes blown across fields, the prayers of a child are fragile and real. As papa got out the old movie projector, I can still see me as a toddler in pony tails in a black and white image. Even then I had allergies so my splotchy smiling face beamed as I swayed little hips behind vintage fabric furniture; the projector's motor humming it’s familiar tune.
My birthday is at the end of the month. I have discovered the older you get, the more people want to know your age. I don’t talk age because I may crumble and succumb to the mental dance of allowing well-intentioned opponents to meander into “my kitchen” eroding my confidence to make two and three point shots on the court of faith.
Small boxed-step moves, I, for the first time, began the shuffle of driving traffic toward my website through Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest but Twitter is the only thing getting a little action. I feel tiny against a sea of technology giants that know the maps that get them to where they are going ... the silent chasm of maneuvering stories along a trail but maturity takes age and experience and I desire to be like strong trees.
My jeep trail took me to harvest colors of golden yellow, decadent red and earthy browns yesterday. As I entered an antique store, I stumbled across a vintage Christmas postcard and an old business card offering lessons in Violin and Viola. Like leaves on a pavement, names were scattered in a sterling silver bowl and I wondered what stories propelled them into a dance card of hope and optimism.
The dance floor quickly became crowded in a seasoned sprinkle of wisdom and experience. There were a handful of couples spinning hand in hand as if to a big-band sound but mostly there were men and women in the golden years dancing enveloped with colleagues chiseled away by life where the dance floor is an even playing field of nobody caring about the youthful measuring stick of success or failure.
One gentleman was transported from the eighties, Dolphin shorts, stripped shirt and a white headband. He kept close to the front left hand corner near the band. He danced as if nobody was watching to a tune uniquely his own. His face was peaceful and content lost in a sea of people whose glass has been softened through the waves of life eroding pride and expectation into the soft hue of green-glassed gratitude. On the right hand side was a woman easily in her eighties; I was impressed with her stamina and energy as she swayed swiftly and effervescently to a melody from a can of ginger ale.
As the hour ticked toward midnight, the band took a respite. Men and women exited the dance floor migrating toward the waterhole of alcohol at a chest high plank of wood behind mirrored glass or to take a smoke outside on a balcony of people. The room was oddly empty; the wall closest to the doors were brick, the ceiling industrial. The waist high speakers echoed vintage songs as I migrated toward the perimeter of the room, dressed in thought as a young teenager at a Jr. High School dance.
It was my first dance and even now, I remember the remnants of the dress I wore. It was floor length, with smocking across the bodice and scalloped spaghetti straps. I felt beautiful that evening dressed in hope and anticipation. As I waited to be asked, my confidence was eroded as the pendulum of the clock ticked. In the final quarter of the game, I was asked to leave the bench to enter the court for a dance. The only thing I remember is the feeling of being elevated to one of flight, where birds soar from perched nests. My mind flew past random thoughts: how my aunt told me that night how the young man’s birth date went well with mine or how my solo dances to Saturday Night Fever, Dirty Dancing and Flashdance all left steps of hope in a tap dance across wooden floors.
My thoughts were interrupted by a tangible invitation quickly snapping me from a foggy visit from past to present. “May I have this dance?” The words caught me off guard. I said yes as I extended my hand. He was a short man; I towered over him. It was hard to know his age except that he appeared much older than myself. In a swift motion, he placed one hand on my waist and with other took my hand as he swirled me onto the dance floor like a stir stick to a long-island iced tea. He flung me forward and around ushering steps forward toward a three point shot of feeling confident and feminine.
The vintage song ended and I was breathless because of the twirls and spins on the floor over arched arms and winding strings on a yoyo with a smile of hop-scotched patterns and silly stringed cans of kick-ball on a summer’s night. He whispered something about my youth because of my form. I assured him I wasn’t that young as he told me he was there with his wife and no longer had his sight. In lowered voices we thanked each other for the dance and exited the floor with a smile… both for a card made of vellum with initials from tiny sterling pens.
The band again playing familiar songs were a backdrop to potable faces of unfamiliar beats; I was ushered into a court of professionals and my game had to change. It was subtle… and sexy, exuberant and explosive and I wanted to be included. My dance became more intentional as my breath was hungry for the taste. A group of seven or so women showed up… they were all older than myself but they ushered in a cloud that drew you in like a bull huffing and puffing as the matador raised his red satin cloth in a fight to the finish. The costume was intricately woven with hands of experience and the raised chin of porous arrogance and agility inspired my mind and motion toward a new song of faith.
These women were not there for the men. They were there to dance and the cloud around them was intoxicating. The people on the dance floor rallied their steps to match the changed music in the room. Although, these women were much older than myself, they were athletic, fit, and dressed in confidence. Not afraid to be women, they were “hot” on the dance floor and men were drawn into the aroma. All eyes were on them as the bar in the room was raised. My mind no longer wondered. As amateurs left, the real players in the room were there to take their best shots and I had a ringside seat among them in the form of fitted dresses and high-healed dance steps.
During a timeout in the third quarter play of the game, the female singer from the band introduced the women, not singularly but together as dancers from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. An upward spiral staircase made of black iron and metal, my mind ascended the steps with scrupulous subtleties as I aligned my confidence with theirs. My thoughts snapped back to my daughter’s roommates where she was one of eight young college women living together where the thought of a picture swirled across my mind: a pile of girls hugging and the caption that read something like … “I have changed my mind, living with these girls is like Hogwarts and I never want to leave.”
There was one woman who seemed to be a leader. As the final seconds ticked in the final quarter of the game, I inched my way toward her… With another brief time-out called, the music died down, low enough for my voice to be audible but still muffled to the sounds of a mixture of sediment and substance. I approached carefully and gratefully for the example, energy and inspiration she and her friends brought to the room and with the intention of telling her spoke softly.
I will never forget what I felt the moment she looked at me. With the confidence of a basketball player who performs an individual automatic subtle routine of setting up a shot just seconds before the ball is released, I felt as though she had rehearsed this response a hundred times. With self-assuredness she said… well yeah,
we are dancers!
The swirl of faith came flooding into my mind like the ball landing through the net …
Yeah, we are women of faith... hot on the dance floor making shots for the kingdom.
Perfect, all net two and three point shots? Heck no ... just day in and day out trying to live the gospel as best I can. Silly and goofy, I feel more like Jim Carrey in the movie, dumb & dumber fumbling for the ball searching for a word.... "Samsonite! I knew it started with an S though. Feisty and stubborn, I feel a bit like Scarlett O'Hara with Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind needing to be swept off my feet and finally, friendly and syrupy sweet, I am partly Will Ferrell in Elf as i make up words and notice silly insignificant details.
But the truth is... we are all awkward. In life, faith and love, we stumble. God knows but in the dance steps forward, we grasp onto hope and whether we are "built for speed, comfort, man or woman, our confidence is found in our humility.
And so... with a femininity and a tenacious work ethic, I enjoy the high heels of feeling like a woman but instead, reach for the work boots of a man as a metaphor for the difficult job of being a servant for the kingdom. As the pendulum swings, women have needed to be strong and vocal in order to be heard. They clothe themselves with the armor of a warrior, the strength of David and the wisdom of Ruth through the dance steps of faith; and you should see the men and women we love but none greater than the the God we serve.
My faith is not just a Sunday sermon; it is an important ingredient to the deep delicate roots of life. With wooden steeples under star-tent skies, I write because I am inspired and surrounded by people who will never enter a church because they have been so deeply hurt by the people that represent it.
I stand among men and women of the faith who choose the cross with a humble realization that they dare not call themselves followers of Christ except in the shadow of His grace. Rebellious and obstinate by design, we are more alike than different. In choosing the path of the cross over our individual pursuits, we make a discovery about ourselves; we do not deserve anything but in His sacrifice, receive everything.
I stood in a room of teenagers this week where we offered up our individual prayers in unison. Like the dancers on a floor of songs, our prayers together were more powerful than alone. What may have sounded like noise to an outside room but with a different lens and from the vantage point of a tall tree, sounded like birds in pews under cathedral skies where delicate fingers make the motions of a steeple and the remnants of the songs point to heaven.
Do the shadows lock you in or do you stand in the midst with arms open to the fragrance of His love and the hope of the life to come, where the shadows of grass swaying in the breeze leads you to the surrender of the cross?
People will continue to ask my age and I will remain vague in an attempt to stay young until He calls me home. Surrender; I knew it started with an S though!
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 (NIV)
For thousands of years, these grand fellows have whispered stories of song and hope. The paths are worn and narrow as they wind through corridors of shadows; I feel small among them. He extends his hand not in a perfect box stepped move but in the fragile atmosphere of a waltz, surrounded by the tall wooden steeples of cathedrals with paned glass windows of grace and brilliant streaks of sunlight filtering through forest leaves where birds sit in pews made of twigs and leaves, and asks us to dance. Will you exit the bench?
Pictures provided by me or Fotolia; audio is from quotes from the movies, Dumb & Dumber, Gone with the Wind and Elf. The You-tube link is from the 2004 movie, Shall We Dance.
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.