I have been told that there is a lot of line dancing in heaven, especially on Saturday nights at clubs. Not just country music clubs but also uptown funky clubs. This has me worried because I’ve never been able to learn a single step. But then I read Nita Gilger’s essay on Dancing in Step, and I realize that it’s ok to have missteps, especially if you’re dancing in a place where people have had a few too many margaritas. And I realize further that the very longing to line dance, to be with others in mutual movement, and to risk the missteps, is itself something God loves. The God who Risks, to quote the title of John Sanders’ book, is a God who invites us to risk, too. God is extremely patient. Much more than we are, sometimes especially with ourselves. That's part of God's openness. So here’s the count for a basic line step shuffle: One and Two, cross over; sweep back. One and Two, cross over, sweep back. Get it? I didn't, either. Let’s try again.
- Jay McDaniel, September 2020
Dancing in Step--Finding a Blend of Longing and Patience
By Nita Gilger
Longing and patience are like a dance. We need the marriage of both to navigate these times. In couples dancing, one leads and the other follows if the goal is smooth adeptness. When both partners try to lead someone likely gets stepped on and the rhythm falters. Certain kinds of dances require more finesse, skill, and practice than others. In some common Country Western line dances, you can just hop in there and join in. It doesn't really matter if you miss a step. You just catch up and try again until it clicks. That being said, in the few line dance scenarios that I have experienced, missing a step matters not because most folks are full of beer or margaritas. Life, in general, needs a little more intention of learning to allow patience and longing to dance together sans inebriation.
Living in this pandemic time is a little like learning to dance. It requires a partnership and appreciation of a balance between patience and longing. Our longings, dreams, and hopes keep us looking for a better time. We yearn for a clearer and more beautiful horizon. Longing needs patience's ability to offer rest and soothing relief. It is like the ying and yang of living. One without the other creates an imbalance or a missed step. I wish my level of patience and longing could really rest in one another more easily. I confess I have more longing than patience these days. Truth be known, that has always been true of me. I dream big dreams. I am always looking toward the horizon. I am more of a global thinker than a detailed, methodical person. There are moments when a little more patience and gaze toward detail would serve me well.
Longing and patience tend to teach us by taking turns. To grow a garden, I first have to imagine it and create it. I need to plan for and dream about all the delicious veggies that will fill my table. I can’t very well garner the bounty of my garden without the work of planting seeds. Then comes waiting and watering while allowing nature time to grow things. Longing and patience need to create an essential partnership.
I have a dear friend with whom I worked off and on for 30 years. She is one of the best friends a person could ask for and was the prefect ministry assistant for me. I would come into work each morning and she would say, "Oh no, you have been dreaming again! What do I need to implement now?" She could tell by the look on my face that I had a new, creative idea or plan that would require her patience and detailed, precise work ethic to accomplish. I always used to tell her that her skill, patience, and adeptness made me look really good. We were a great team for a lot of reasons, but one of those was that we balanced one another.
I am reminded today of how much patience and longing need to live together in order to guide our living. I hold deep yearnings among the mysteries of life and the stress of living in a challenging time. I am so grateful that God is patient with me as I find my way. Prayer: God of my dance help me to find the right steps to move in the grace of patience with all my longings while honoring the pace of Divine Wisdom however and whenever it comes. Strengthen me to "do" the work of seeking which is as necessary as digging a well for water. Amen