Lessons on the dance floor
It was the final full day at spring holiday camp. Friends of all ages had enjoyed a week by the sea—participating in fun activities, and also sharing inspired thoughts on spirituality and life. Tonight: the last hurrah. A 1930s ball, complete with decorations, a jazz swing band, and an evening of dancing.
The problem? In theory, there shouldn’t have been a problem. I like dancing and know some basic ballroom techniques. But to be honest, I was already dreading the potential awkwardness of asking people to dance—and the potential rejections.
That afternoon, a couple of ballroom classes had been arranged so that everyone could learn a few steps ahead of the event. The first session progressed smoothly, but I was a little disheartened by my lack of partners when we needed to practice in pairs. It seemed as though all the women were doing their best to avoid me, and one girl even broke off halfway through a dance.
At the end of the session, I sat on a bench feeling the first whispers of discouragement. The day was turning out to be a disappointment—just as I’d feared. But as I lifted my thought in prayer, it came to me that instead of going straight back to the campsite, I could volunteer to help in the kitchen with the decorations.
Perhaps it wasn’t the most masculine of tasks, but as I inflated balloons and tied them together with ribbon, I think my attitude was shifting from wondering what I would get out of the day, to realizing what I could contribute. As each silver, or pink, or gold balloon filled with helium, my perspective was also lifting to see that I might be able to enjoy the festivities after all. I just needed to let God take the lead.
That evening, I arrived at the ball with an inspired idea. I would be content to sit and watch from the side and simply feel the presence of God’s love encompassing everyone. I knew God loved me, and I knew that God loved everyone else, too. That love would ensure that each person present would have a great evening—including me, even if I didn’t dance at all.
Well, after about 15 minutes of enjoying feeling this love, I felt a gentle nudge from God. “Peter,” went the nudge, “you’re doing just great there. But hey, you know what? It’s time to dance! Yes, see—there’s a lady over there just waiting for someone to ask her. Go, go…”
Without a further thought—without even a shred of fear of rejection—I followed God’s leading. Indeed, the young woman was very happy to dance, and when we’d finished, she commented favorably on my ability to “lead.” (In ballroom dancing, the man usually needs to give some gentle direction on which steps to do and which way to go.) Soon after that I was partnering someone else, and before long, women started coming to me first and asking to dance. By the end of the evening I had done a whole lot of dancing and connected with many new friends. It was a complete turnaround from earlier in the day.
For me, it was a neat way to end my holiday. But more important was the spiritual lesson. I realized that I didn’t need to fear being left out or making a fool of myself. Instead, I could be a witness to the way God’s love naturally flows to everyone. As I did this, I recognized my own natural husbanding and fathering qualities, which I realized I could express with anyone, at any time.
Perhaps I caught a glimpse of what Mary Baker Eddy referred to in the following passage: “Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind,” she wrote, “and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul. … We cannot circumscribe happiness within the limits of personal sense.” 1
By letting go of a personal sense of relationships, and recognizing everyone’s relationship to our loving Father-Mother God, I did feel the embrace of Soul that evening. God is indeed the one true source of all affection, and realizing this can put an end to feelings of awkwardness, loneliness or even lack of self-worth. For all of us.RSS feed