I've previously posted about my interest in dance. For the past few months I've been attending a weekly beginner's swing dance class at Crews & Tango. The organization is called "Swingin' Out!" and while it is open to everyone, it was created for queer people to have a place to learn dances like the "Lindy Hop" or the "Charleston." I like the idea of these dances as part of my (North-American) cultural heritage, not unlike Scottish folk dance or salsa might be for others.
Last Thursday I almost didn't go. My partner had a meal with his hair school friend and I was behind (as always) in emails/blogs and feeling lazy. However I felt like I should be doing something active. I made myself go and of course had a great time.
I've been "following" which is a big change from leading in a dance. When I'm leading, I'm always thinking, "What's next? What's next?" When I'm following I really have to "listen" with my body and not anticipate what the leader's next move will be. A good leader will often give "nudges" with hands, hips or arms that guide a follower to where they are to go next.
After the lesson, there is usually a social time where the advance students dance with the beginners. Sort of a mixer if you will. Since none of my friends were in attendance, my natural impulse was to bolt but then I got this "nudge" to hang out for awhile. Sure enough, some guy asked me to dance. He tried some new things and, as a good follower, I just "went with the flow," even if it meant that these attempts didn't go exactly as planned or I ended up looking bad.
After the song ended, I thanked him and felt another "nudge"- this time to leave right at that very moment. So I put on my jacket and as soon as I walked out the door and down the steps, I was greeted with a pleasant suprise! My partner's former coworker and now good friend was walking home from work and was just passing by at that exact same moment! We laughed and started talking.
I noticed something was troubling her (usually she's very bubbly and effervescent). Turns out that her employer, who had promised to sponsor her visa application, backed out when she realized she would have to pay a) minimum wage and *gasp* b) taxes! My friend's spirit was absolutely crushed. She just had paid a great deal of money to an immigration attorney the day before based on the promises of this woman. Understandably she was distraught.
Well I did my best to comfort her. I have had experience being frustrated/disappointed with both immigration and flaky people. Fortuitously we live very near each other so I walked her most of the way home and by that time, she had calmed down considerably.
After parting, I said a little prayer of thanks to God for being able to "be there" at that moment for my friend. And this got me thinking about the presidental candidate Barak Obama- he talks a great deal about his faith and has said "I can be an instrument of God." This probably sounds crazy to people who come from a different faith background. I think that's a completely natural reaction. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 it states, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (NIV)
So no, I don't think Obama's idea here is crazy. But in light of recent experiences, I do disagree with his instrument metaphor. Oh, I do get it- instruments are designed with a specific purpose in mind and are really only useful when serving that purpose. However instruments don't get a vote, a voice. They just lie around waiting to be used. In other words, they have no free will.
At this moment, I kind of like thinking of God as my dancing partner. He's leading of course. And I'm going to try to follow, not anticipate or "backlead" but rather wait. Waiting for a spin here or a turn there. Waiting for that "nudge."