‘When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.’
Wayne Dyer – American Philosopher
One of my few regrets in life is that I never learnt ballet. While my primary school friends tripped off in their tights and tutus, I rode my bike, wrote stories and played in the garden. It was quite a surprise to be offered a place in south London, post A’levels, to study for a degree in Dance and Geography. I didn’t accept it; but I did venture into adult tap dancing classes some years later, trying to recreate the fluidity and magic of Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire and my personal favourite, Gene Kelly. Instead, I studied theatre, drama and television; got an agent; went to auditions; taught freelance Speech & Drama at a girls boarding school; married a minister; turned my back on a TV career to throw myself into motherhood, crazy work hours and schedules; invested in people by coaching, mentoring and public speaking; met writing deadlines; helped save marriages; climbed the steep and relentless learning curve of parenting, including three challenging years of home-schooling… A very different life from the one I imagined; first in the south of England, then further afield beyond European shores.
The lure of the dance remains. When I reflect on the passing years I can see four important elements of dance amidst a history that has never been ordinary, easy to define or, ‘neat and tidy’ in its unfolding.
Pace: The rhythm of steps, the musical pulses and silences: these determine the nature of any dance. The recurrent beat of my life has been following Jesus and loving family. Sometimes the pace has been frenetic, sometimes barely discernible, but its source hasn’t changed. I rejected the prospect of the average – as I perceived it – while I was still a young teenager. I wanted to change the world and avoid the doors which might lead me into a 9-5 suburban existence. I barely lasted a week in an office; others might flourish there, but it wasn’t for me.
Pattern: Dance is not random. All the twirls and leaps, the pirouettes and jumps, the steps – both simple and complex – form structure, tell a story, explore a theme or express emotion whether on a stage, under the stars or in front of your bedroom mirror. Hindsight helps me trace the pattern through years that sometimes felt chaotic and confusing. Time after time, I see the repeated pattern of the goodness and faithfulness of God, demonstrated in sustaining me, providing relationships – including loyal friends, outstanding children and a rock solid husband – carrying me through disappointment and distress; pushing me further than I thought I could go emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually; leading and encouraging me on, even when my every inclination was to sit it out for a while. It has not been random.
Purpose: Dance has several: an artistic and aesthetic achievement; sometimes a ceremonial requirement; but more than anything, dance is supposed to delight both performer and observers (should they be present). Celebrating the beauty of a body in motion, which expresses the living core of an individual, is an unparalleled pleasure. A whole-hearted, carefree dance speaks of freedom, fulfilment and above all, fun. That’s why people dance. That’s why I want to ‘dance’ through my days.
Partner: I had just reached double figures when I realised that God wanted to dance with me. I didn’t know why – it sounds crazy – but the conviction has never left me. I didn’t choose Him, He chose me despite my flaws, which makes our partnership all the more precious.
So, when I consider life after my Jubilee year, I see both past evidence and future challenges in God’s invitation to ‘dance’ through apparent chaos.
I am grateful that He is the One who takes the lead.
I recognise that the pace changes with different seasons.
I am convinced that there is pattern and structure to this ‘dance’ and I take the cold-blooded decision to choose to have fun even when the steps are difficult, my feet are sore and I can’t see the outcome.
Since God invited me into this ‘dance’ I have always felt safe in His strong hands; He is the choreographer, the composer, the artistic director and the lead. I just need to follow.