Today in church, I was thinking about fear. For the most part, I think of myself as a courageous person. I don't really have phobias, in what I would call a psychological sense. I'm not afraid of heights or flying or speaking in public or mice or spiders or the dark or even crime actually. I startle easily, but I'm not sure that's the same as fear. I don't do well with blood or with having my head under water, but that's honestly more of a physical reaction than a mental fear.
And then, in a moment of deeper honesty, I realized that there is one thing that I do fear, at least, if my behavior is any indication. (I think it's probably safe to assume it is.) I don't always like to admit it, but it's a pretty safe bet that I fear losing control. (And yes, I know that control is an illusion, but a lot of the time in my life it's a pretty complete and satisfying illusion, so that's not my point at the moment. Though the startling easily thing is probably related to this somehow.)
My congregation would back me up on this, as would my entire family and any of my friends who actually know me very well. I like for things to be done the way I think they should be done, and I like for the things being done to be the things I want done. So much so that I scolded my husband the other day for scraping the cat's dish with the wrong utensil. (?!?)
I've been wanting recently to blog about the spirituality of dancing. And I don't mean "chancel prancing", as a former mentor used to call liturgical dance. I mean serious, fast-moving, actual heavy-breathing-inducing partner dancing – salsa, merengue, swing, lindy hop, cha cha, whatever. I love it, and I know it does something to restore my spirit. I haven't written that blog yet because I wasn't sure how to describe it.
But I might have figured it out this morning. Because as I was contemplating my fear of being out of control, it occurred to me that when I'm dancing – usually with nameless men I've barely met in faraway cities – I am totally comfortable with, and even excited about, having handed control over to someone else. When I dance, I am the follower. I don't have to know what I'm doing, and I don't have to make decisions. I love following a strong leader when I'm dancing, someone who will clearly push and pull and twirl me wherever I am supposed to go to make the dance work. You're taking your chances with each partner as to whether he'll be any good or not, but no song lasts all that long if he's not and then you can find someone else. But most of the places I've ever danced, there are only a few duds. So most of the time, it's wonderful.
Is it weird that I love that? Or does it make it less surprising that it's so redemptive for me? I think there is something healing about rhythm, which may have something to do with it too. But I think there's something to be said for not having to think too hard and yet be physically involved in creating something so powerful.
Last week, I was at an intense meeting about the State of the Congregation. At one point, I muttered to our church's head honcho, who happened to be sitting at my table, that the church needed more dance parties. She laughingly agreed. I was kidding, of course. Sort of. Because sort of I wasn't. I think it would be good for us. Dance parties, drum circles, whatever sort of thing that gives leaders a chance to follow and yet be part of creating something gorgeous with their bodies. 'Cause I don't think I'm the only one in the church who fears losing hold of the reins.
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