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dance floor wisdom

Some dance floor wisdom.
From the paragraph I cranked out in my sermon notes for the teaching on 7/12/15 at the Vineyard

In dance our energy works together;
in wrestling it’s aimed at one another.
One is about connection for beauty,
the other about connection for domination.

Christ is infinitely flexible!
He can enter any dance anywhere with anyone.
In only one setting was and is he challenged in this:
in the heavily religious setting,
and that for the simple reason the very religious
typically don’t dance!

Religion tends to be inflexible,
fragile,
“keep it secret, keep it safe.”
It must be defended, protected.

But Christ is infinitely flexible
ceaselessly infiltrating the world,
seeping under all walls,
breezing through every bar,
joining in the rhythm of every dance.

Sometimes we flatter ourselves
that we are “bringing Christ” to the world
or to the neighborhood.

I hate to burst your bubble,

but he created that neighborhood
and he’s already there.
Your job as a Christ follower is
to join the dance of your neighborhood,
find the rhythm of Christ already there,
and then simply identify the One in whom
“they have lived, and moved, and had their very being” all along.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 5.38.15 PM

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/133285933″>1 Corinthians 9.1-27: &quot;YIELD&quot;</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/vcfboise”>Vineyard Boise</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2015 in haverings

 

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God save us from all fixers (if not from the fixes we’re in!)

Sometimes, when I compose an email in response to human need, I discover I just wrote a wee post.no-fixers

To a sister, a friend.
Stuck, tired, weary
of God’s little helpers trying to fix her through prayer.

Facing a situation that refuses to change, a heart that refuses to budge.
To anyone finding themselves in such a place.
My response.

I know precisely what you speak of.

I haven’t borne the same kind of burden, nor nearly so long,
but I know this.
I also encounter it all the time in people who show up
at my door and window
most recently in a man with terminal brain cancer in a six month countdown.
He’s been soaked and soaked and soaked with prayer
(to death!).
He sings our songs,
hears our sermons
and our promises,
and in his thirty years of walking out this Christian thing
he’s never heard God
once,
and clearly
God is not listening to him now.
So I just listened.
I told him we have an unbalanced prayer and worship rhythm
in our public and private life,
one focusing on
victory and
power and
hope
seen through a grid of
circumstances that change,
hearts that bend,
bodies that heal,
pain that skedaddles.
We don’t know how
to suffer with others in silence,
to moan the words of Lamentations,
shout the complaints of Job, or
groan the cynicism of Ecclesiastes.
And then I gave him a ride home.
He said it helped.
I told him I want to be space for him whenever he needs it.
God save us all from fixers, God bless ’em.
I love you, Frank D Fixer. Just stick to my car and my plumbing, please...

I love you, Frank D Fixer. Just stick to my car and my plumbing, please…

I don’t talk about my neuropathy anymore,
because
every time I do, people line up to fix me with
medicinal or
herbal or
spiritual remedies
and I don’t want to be unkind to them.
I don’t pray over the neuropathy anymore.
Haven’t for a very long time.

I groan and grin and dance on it.
Dance for me isn’t a fix,
it’s rebellion and defiance
against the pain I live with
on multiple
levels.
You, my friend, must indeed
find a dance forward, for sure.
And it will come to you.
It may already be beckoning…
 
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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in haverings

 

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the hardest step…is the one you have to wait to take

What’s the hardest step in line dance?*
It’s not the grapevine.
Not the coaster step.
Not the kickball change.
Or the reverse weave.
Or the sailor step, the rock step, the shuffle step, or the step-lock-step.

It’s the hold.

It’s drawing your foot back and then,
though momentum is pushing you,
though everything in you wants to move to the next step, 

holdingwait

that

step.

It’s waiting for the rhythm,
and then launching into the next move.

So against the grain of us, this.
This holding, this waiting business,
this yielding to the rhythm the self-indulgent initiative we feel
and so want to express.
Now.

But at the heart of the dance of life (chuwl!) is
holding
waiting
slowing the step as you wait
for the beat of the song
for the next pivotal movement of life
waiting, waiting, waiting
slowing,
slowing,

slowing the step…
And then the pivot comes.

No. We really don’t care for this step at all, do we?

* This question was asked and answered by Michael Barr, a nationally known line dance instructor, at the Sweetheart Jamboree in Seattle, February 7, 2015.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2015 in a time to dance, haverings

 

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dancing is chuwl!

Chuwl.dance_chuwl

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 danceskipping, 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.

waitChuwl = dance = waiting.

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…

spinning Rumi

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in a time to dance, haverings

 

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a time to dance

It’s no secret.singin in the rain_smaller
I dance.
A lot.

I mean, a lot.
In fact, it’s quickly becoming a way of life.

So perhaps it’s time to spend some time developing a theology of the dance. Which for me means digging into the Hebrew scriptures. If “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” then perhaps all theology ultimately finds it’s earliest expression in words. Lexicography = birthplace of theology.

So bring on the words…

Three Hebrew words in particular that are translated “dance” in the Hebrew scriptures. Hang on. This won’t be dry. Promise. Well, mostly not dry. We’re talking saturation – or at least dampness.

Sorry.

Three Hebrew words. Right.

dance_raqadFirst there’s raqad which has the basic meaning of skipping or leaping. It’s what hills metaphorically do in the presence of God and what lambs do when they are full of themselves and life – and it’s what we do when we feel the same way. Well, at least those of us who aren’t afraid to move and show it. Raqad is the word used in that classic passage (Ecclesiastes 3) that celebrates the time to do this and the time to do that – or more specifically “there is a time to mourn (literally to beat on your chest in anguish) and there is a time to dance (there’s our word – raqad – literally to leap or spring in the air).”

 

waitThen there’s karar which has the essential force of moving in a circle. Karar only surfaces twice, however, both in the story of David dancing in 2 Samuel 6.14-15 – though dance_kararin the parallel telling of the tale in Chronicles it’s raqad – which means, putting raqad and karar together, David was skipping in a circle.
(No wonder he was called a dancing fool by his wife!)

 

dance_chuwlThird word. Chuwl. Kinda like “hula” only with the “h” being pronounced like you’re clearing your throat and no “a” at the end of it. Try it. It’s chuwl (cool! there’s another way to it; say the “c” in “cool” like you’re clearing your throat and you have it. Chuwl!). Chuwl means to twist, to turn, to turn around. Once again the idea of the circle is prominent – but what an instructive range of meanings!

 

Which we’ll explore in the next post…

Chuwl!

spinning Rumi

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in a time to dance, haverings

 

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king of pain: dance on it

“How do you live with the pain?” he asks.

While I don’t remember exactly where I started or in what order all my meanderings spilled out, this was my first key point:

You have to accept it’s rhythms.images-2
You have to let it swallow you.
And then you have to learn how to dance on it.

Deep into twelve rounds of chemo in 2012, my wife saved my life. I just didn’t know at the time that’s what she was doing. It felt like nagging. Or a brawl, to be more precise. She had been invited to a line dance lesson and wanted to go. And she wanted me to go with her.

The half-dead man.
One week in the tomb, one week out.
The man who couldn’t feel his feet half the time anymore.

The man possessing a sense of rhythm like Steve Martin in The Jerk.

The introvert.
Introverts don’t belong on dance floors – and I was pretty sure pastors aren’t allowed, either.

I wouldn’t go.

But she did.

She didn’t wait. She danced. And danced. Good for her.

I stayed home and slept, mostly.
Good for me.

dancing feetEach lesson, each dance, she would invite with a smile, and I would tell her how happy I was that she had found something that was filling her so, but it simply wasn’t for me.

There were no naggings, no beratings, no pleadings.

Just a smile on her increasingly glowing face and an extended hand.

But it took the subtle arm-twisting of Mother’s Day the following year to get me on the dance floor just this once. That’s all she wanted, she said.

So I went and stumbled through the night on introverted, neuropathic feet.

The next month it was Father’s Day.

The month after that it was our anniversary.

The month after that I started line dance lessons with her.

Never believe anyone who says “just once.” Never.

But in this case, it was a good thing.

I increasingly realized that in dancing I was literally learning to dance upon my own pain. Feet that would normally be shackled by neuropathy were doing the two-step, dancing grapevines, and doing the Bombshell Stomp. I still welcome prayer when offered for the pain that is always there, sometimes as background noise, sometimes searing as a knife.

But dance is itself prayer for me, a tangible expression of hope.

As is wearing springy shoes.

I am not fighting you. My goal is not eliminating you, for if you leave, another pain will simply, ultimately, take your place. If a pain-free existence were the point of life, we would not still be on a planet with thorns and thistles and sweaty brows struggling through all of life to make ends meet. If the Gospel of Christ were the ticket out of such a thicket of pain and struggle, then trusting ten-year-old girls with thousands of believers praying over them would not still die after struggling with cancer for two years.

I will never love you, pain, but I’m learning to fear and fight you less. I’m learning to be obsessed with you less, because I’m learning to dance on you – even though the dance be a dirge, it is a dance, still.

 

Yeah, I said something like that to him.

 

And then I took another breath…

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in haverings, Suffering

 

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i wait

Spent the past four days in Noah’s ark. At least that’s how it felt. Hadn’t gotten much writing done the past four weeks, so I was making up time, pretty much sequestered. With Noah. In his claustrophobic box. Genesis 5-11.

Want to share a sample that will appear on my devotions blog in mid-August. Don’t want to wait…

Waiting.waiting (1)

Let us attempt a definition.

To wait is to suffer through interminable, frustrating, immobilizing inactivity in the midst of a pressing desire to move that is practically bursting out of your chest.

And we hate it.

Every.

Aggravating.

Minute.

Of.

It.

It’s why we have multiple self-checkout lines in our superstores. Who wants to wait for the checker to tediously, slowly drag each item across that scanner as they make small talk with that person ahead of you (you know, the one with the 30 items in the 15 items or less lane and a stack of coupons and at least four items that have to be researched in depth for a price)? Who has the time? The lack of late night self-checkout lanes is one of the key reasons I stopped shopping at a certain local superstore. Fair trade and social justice issues? Would that I were so deep (who has time for that?). I just got tired of waiting all the live long night (it’s amazing how long five minutes can be when it’s after midnight in a superstore). Now they have a half dozen new ones open all the time, right by the door that’s open all night. Brilliant. And virtually wait free.

Bliss.

waitingBut here’s the interesting thing. Noah waited. For forty days and forty nights it deluged. He waited. For 150 days the waters rose. Noah waited. Six months. God remembers – though the only way Noah probably could have known that was by the sound of a new wind blowing outside his claustrophobic box. For another 150 days the water recedes. He waits. The ark makes landfall on Ararat and peeking out the one porthole he spies new peaks. He waits as another forty days pass. Then he sends the raven. He waits. Another seven days. He sends the dove and she returns. Another seven days. He waits…

Here’s the cool thing in all of this Noahic waiting.

The Hebrew word translated “wait” here doesn’t mean listless, frustrating, immobilized and immobilizing inactivity. It actually means to whirl, to twirl, to dance. Yes, it can also mean to writhe in terror. Perhaps it was an earthy mixture of both, just as it is for us as we too wait in our stinking box peering out through our single porthole in the midst of our mess.

Seeing this gave me a completely fresh picture of Noah in that box of his.

No stoic reclining, this. He writhed. He twirled. He danced a dance brimming with the mixed melodies of fright, tired-of-waitingfear, anger, joy and anticipation. He writhed with all of creation as it was smothered in watery darkness; he twirled with delight at the sound of that mother of all blow-drying winds; he did hand springs when at last he felt the boat connect with solid ground below and when the top of those mountains could be seen.

Waiting is a dreadful, writhing dance of anticipation and suspense.

The challenge is to let ourselves feel it, to enter it, to express it, as we, with Viktor Navorski passionately chant,

“I wait!

navorski

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Genesis, haverings

 

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