When is the last time you felt alive? When is the last time you felt free with passion bringing light to your eyes that you thought was long past? When is the last time you danced?
For me, being connected to new ideas and meaningful conversations always enlivens.
In this matter, if you've followed my blog for long you know that reading and being introduced to quality books is one of my favorite things. So, how grateful I was to be given some new texts to check out via conversations with the regional director of Feed the Children East Africa, Seintje who I met over the course of our recent travels. Seintje, being a native of Holland and seminary trained in the UK, shared with me several of her favorites that were new finds for my collection.
And I didn't have to wait long to find them. After a stop at a Catholic bookstore in downtown Nairobi a couple of days ago, I was able to pick up a copy of one of her recommendations called Awareness: the Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony De Mello.
I was immediately drawn in to this book of insightful spiritual wisdom from the very first pages. Especially as I read these words of exhortation by Mello: "My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance. If you profit from it, fine; if you don't too bad! As the Arabs say, 'The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens.'"
What I love about this particular quote is the clarity of the idea shared. It's direct and to the point: how often are we all guilty of moving in the direction of someone else's life path and not our own. We so easily make the moves of our lives based on a cultural blueprint rather than what might be our new course to blaze. When we do this, we aren't awake to our own lives, as Mello writes. We are sleep walking instead.
I met several large groups of women this week who greeted our Feed the Children delegation with dancing and singing. No sleep walking for them, literally. As we got out of the car on several occasions, the welcome started cheering loudly and dancing with hands raised! These women could have had easily shied away from being themselves, we were strangers after all. But no matter what excuses they could have given-- they danced. They danced in their own way at their own pace with joy on their faces to be able to share their lives with us.
So too, this must be our way, says Mello. We all have our dance and we must get to it. Our dancing will be like rain on the parched ground for some who have forgotten what joy looks like. Seeing us dance might remind them how to dance again too right where they are.
Yet, others, who are walking in the dark (and very much liking the way things are) will look at our dancing and point their fingers in exclamation of our insanity. Stop living this way! Stop being so happy! You can't live like this. You're exposing our anxiety and loneliness. You're exposing our fear.
They'll say these things because they are jealous of our freedom. They'll wish they could cut loose too. They haven't yet learned to dance.
But no matter what, our invitation to dance by our God remains. We all get this invitation. Our dance card is ready. Time will tell where we will go. We just have to get to it: dancing our dance. It's ours to dance alone.