Getting ready for Zumba

Finding Holy Ground

Post Author: Julie Jensen

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ 4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 5Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ 6He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Exodus 3:1-5


Getting ready for ZumbaFinding New Ground

I’m not a dancer. Well, not really. I remember taking a ballet-tap-jazz class at our next-door neighbor’s house during elementary school. There was a studio in the basement and I loved the ways my tap shoes made noise as I stomped my feet. But my family moved a lot and it was not until seminary that I returned to the studio for a beginning ballet class. For ten weeks, I stretched and plied at the barre and practiced jumps across the floor. It was not exactly graceful, but I loved it. And now, ten years later, I find myself in a new studio, on a new floor, looking for a new place to stand.

I am in the midst of transitioning; having left my previous call, I am looking for the right new call. I left behind a 60-hour work-week, and although I fill my new expanse of days with volunteering and job-seeking, there was at first still an emptiness to contend with. Many of my days feel uncertain. I don’t have a pulpit or sanctuary to claim as holy space, and I miss the moment before leading worship when I would inhale and feel the floor beneath my shoes as I centered myself to speak.

And so, recently, I started to look for ways to re-center, to look for new ground upon which to plant myself. While I did not receive a visit from an angel of the Lord, I wonder if I had something in common with Moses. Moses saw a burning bush – something so extraordinary that he could not help but marvel. God told him that he was to take off his shoes and that this ground was holy. To pay attention to his feet in the dirt, and the connection he made with the land. To notice that which he almost passed by before without seeing.

I never noticed the Zumba class before. Tuesdays and Thursdays were always filled with meetings, not music. I found the class listing online and went to see what this dance-exercise class was on a whim. As I was leaving after the first night, I knew I was in holy space. The community who gathered were welcoming, hugging, genuine, and empowering. No one cared that I went left instead of right. They cared that I was there. The more classes I attended, the more I started to feel like I was dancing on holy ground. No, the music is not “Christian;” no, we don’t open with prayer. But we have a call to worship as the music begins and we move as one to warm up. There is the offering as we each give what we can through dance. The final hymn is the cool down as we return back to our worlds, and the benediction – for me – is Mrs. S sending me out the door with a hug and telling me to be sweet. As sure as God was there when the bush was burning, God is there as we salsa and cha-cha and merengue.

Sometimes it takes losing our ground to start paying attention to the burning bushes all around us. Sometime we have to trade our Sunday high heels for sneakers that will help us be stable as we feel the floor. Sometimes, when we find new ground where we least expected to, it makes all the difference. I’m not really a dancer, and yet after a few short months, I can’t imagine my life without dancing on the holy ground of this new community of laughter, love, and faith.

Rev. Julie Jensen serves on the Board of TYCWP in the Community Life Work Group, and is also the Registrar. Julie is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the PC(USA). She lives in Cartersville, GA and is paying attention to where God may be calling her to serve next. When she isn’t doing Zumba, she enjoys cooking, knitting, and being with her friends.

Image by: Julie Jensen
Used with permission
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