It is such a loaded word – such an emotional word.
I have had to say goodbye to many people and places over my life, and it is never easy. Sometimes the goodbyes have been self-imposed, such as when I chose to leave a soul-draining workplace. Most people would advise that one should never leave a job without gaining a new one first, but circumstances can dictate otherwise. Sometimes rest and emptiness is needed if one needs to think carefully before another step is taken. The sensation of release is palpable and always filled with a sense of great relief mixed with trepidation.
New beginnings. New people. New places and faces. These will come. But one must be strong enough to leave behind the former ways first. One must constantly learn to die to oneself again and again. It is a recurring pattern, and we are always left with the evolving person who looks back at us in the mirror. We must always ask that person – who do you want to become?
Transformation or to be ‘transformed’, is a word and phrase I have regularly encountered this Advent.
For believers in God, life is a dynamic dance. When you watch two people dancing, they come together intimately in one moment and then totally separate from each other the next. It is the same with music – an entire song is meaningless unless there are moments filled with silences or rests. There is a rhythm and purpose to the movements. Although up close we may not know what it all means, observed from a distance and often in hindsight, the dance weaves together a beautiful story and we are enthralled.
Our lives with God are a dance. We come together in moments of grace and love – albeit fleetingly – and at other times we find ourselves completely separated from Him. We think that we can find our own way and can do better by dancing on our own. We may not trust His lead or be patient enough in understanding what the purpose of the dance is. Many of us have two left feet. We inevitably feel the ache of missing His presence and warm embrace. We instinctively knew all along that He was the better dancer, and so we try to find our way back to the Divine partnership to which we are all called.
We have just passed the halfway mark of Advent – Gaudete Sunday. In my little parish group we reflected on how God manifests His joy in our lives, and how we are called to spread that joy to others. We heard various quotes from Scripture, including the marvelous conclusion to the writings of the prophet Habakkuk:
Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.
Here is the statement of ultimate confidence in the One who must lead us in this dance of life – the One in whom we must place our entire lives and plans: that despite the vagueness of our existence, our fluctuating feelings, our uncertain decisions, suffering, pain, torments, self-doubts, loneliness, sickness, death, and so on, “I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.”. God is our refuge. He will make our feet strong again so that we can flit about with joy like a deer.
Coincidentally – or I believe, not – I have also just read the following passage in C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity:
…in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.
(Mere Christianity, p. 175)
What do you make of this for your life?
Can you spend some time in silence as we close this year, to believe that God is aching to dance with you?
And so this will be my last post for 2019.
I hope to continue next year, and that God’s joy will fill my heart again so I will feel like dancing throughout 2020 with His grace and love, no matter what happens.
Despite past rejections, tiredness, changes, and disappointments, new things are coming. New life is starting to burst forth through the hard skin of the seeds which were planted in me a long time ago where they have been soaking – seeds of creativity, song, writing, and especially faith – and which will hopefully allow me to “tread upon the heights”, thus being closer to God who is the faithful One and the True Friend who will never abandon me.
I do not know what my dance will be like in 2020 – a new decade and turning point in my life. None of us do. My hope and prayer for you, dear Reader, is that you too will seek new beginnings and always cling to God, with me.
I hope, like the wonderful Mr C. S. Lewis, you will not think me irreverent as I leave you with my paraphrase of the Scripture passage quoted above, and this article:
Though you may be single or feel alone, and you bear no children, nor wealth, nor riches;
though your confidence wobbles and you feel that your life yields no fruit;
though you may feel cut off from other people, or society, or success, and your life feels bare,
yet you will rejoice in the Lord; you will exult in the God of your salvation.
God, the Lord, is your strength; he makes your feet like the feet of a deer – and you will dance again, He will make you tread upon the heights of His love.
A blessed Christmas and New Year to you all.
With love and gratitude,
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