It’s the most commonly used word translated “dance” in Hebrew (62 times in 58 verses – and remember to pronounce it like “cool” with you clearing your throat as you voice the initial “c”). Basic meaning: to twist, to turn, to turn around. So we’re talking circular motion. Perhaps a pivot and spin on a foot, perhaps the body itself being twisted or contorted. Which introduces us to the range of meanings of chuwl, of which we’ll briefly explore three:
- To dance – skipping, spinning, leaping, stepping in a circle. The joy of celebration what drives this motion, but there’s more to chuwl than that…
- To twist or writhe in pain and agony. Yep, same word. What can be a dance of joy can also be the twisting of the body in pain. Chuwl is even used of the travail or twisting of labor in giving birth.
Think on this for a moment. Wild! The same word encompasses the bodily expression of great joy and great pain. Selah, people. Selah. (That means stop and ponder…)
- To wait. Think about this one. Whether we’re dancing in a circle for joy or writhing in pain, we’re not going anywhere. We’re moving in a circle like a plane circling the airport waiting for its turn to land.
Or we’re stopped, paralyzed in pain as our body is twisted and contorted in suffering. In either case, we’re in a holding pattern, hence we are paused, we are waiting. Lingering with the joy of anticipation or perhaps waiting with longing for release from the pain or perhaps a mixture of the two. Life is complicated, people.
Perhaps this is why so many of us have so much trouble actually learning to dance. Everything in our society is about our flat, straight lines – who has time to dance like a fool in a circle? How irresponsible! How unproductive!
Life is all about the dance, people.
It’s all about taking the time for the dance.
It’s about exiting the speeding train of our schedules,
the supersonic speed of our busyness,
and taking the time for the dance.
The dance of joy and celebration or
the writhing of pain and grief.
We especially don’t want to pause for that
nor do we want to make room for it in others
as we make a beeline to fix the pain
or to move on to the next success.
It’s the first requirement for the dance.
And also the most difficult step.
Which leads us to the next post…