This evening I did something I have not done in weeks. I cranked up my music player and picked up one of my hoops. I chose my favorite one — pink and white. Then, I rocked it.
And I learned something that is sometimes easy to forget: once you learn something, you never forget it, but it’s hard to make up for months of slacking. Five minutes of fast hooping and twirling and my heart was pounding. I was “glistening,” as my Southern belle friends would say. But you know what? It felt good. It felt like I was reconnecting to something I love but often fail to make time for in the midst of the “busy-ness” of life.
It was almost twilight and I left the lights off, so I could watch the snow falling against the window against the bluish hue of approaching evening.I let the music flow through me and moved in accordance to the beat. I also had an audience — a half-Siamese cat fearless of the hoop spinning and twisting overhead. Oblivious to the potential danger (or perhaps trusting of my experience, which she has observed on many occasions), she sat down on the arm of the couch and watched with great interest. (No doubt her reaction is, “Why does she do this? Is there some benefit? I like it more when she lays on the couch; that way we can cuddle!”)
The first thought in my mind was “wow, I am out of shape!” and then it fell into a familiar routine. I pushed through the initial weariness and my body was soon shouting, “yes! we can do this!” I found the moves were no problem at all, even the difficult ones I spent weeks practicing. I know the moves. I focused on them. I trained to learn them. I was determined to get them right. Hours passed during some sessions in the backyard, but I would not give up until I mastered it. I am that kind of a person. I don’t just quit — not if I am having a horrible writing evening or cannot seem to get a hooping move. That determination and hard work paid off. Eventually, they became second nature to me. I can bring the hoop from my knees to my shoulders in a few graceful movements. I can pull one arm or both out while it rotates on my upper body. I can ballet-step my way across the room and it never stops spinning. Why? Because I learned the moves. I don’t even have to think about them — and no matter how tired or out of shape I am, my muscles still remember.
I marveled at it.
I marveled at the way God made our bodies work, at how we don’t even have to concentrate but our instincts compel movement; I marveled at the way He designed us to move, so perfect for dancing. I thought about David dancing in His honor. I marveled at how the music wove through me and brought me such happiness. I thought about how music is so spiritual and can draw us nearer to God. How He encouraged dancing and singing among His followers, and how that was David’s primary means of communicating with Him in the Psalms.
And in the midst of dancing in that darkened room with the cat crouched nearby, I got a gentle nudge.
My parents were always very dedicated to their faith. I grew up in church. It was no big deal to me. I went to Sunday School every week and heard Bible stories. I read them out of an illustrated Bible at home. (Being a born suffragist, I loved Esther’s story the most.) I had all the answers to all the questions that earned me gold stars in class. It became second nature to me. This morning, the pastor mentioned an obscure reference to an Old Testament story and I knew what he was going to talk about immediately. That knowledge, that focusing on faith and beliefs and even minor amounts of theology at such a young age impacted me. It shaped my life. It became second nature to me. But unless I put the same amount of devotion into continuing to learn and study, in enriching my personal relationship with Christ, I am just like a hoop dancer who learns and then puts aside her hoop, only to return now and again to it for fun. I lose my focus. The moves still come, but I am missing out on the immense amount of joy that accompanies familiarity.
God delights in me. He delights in me whether I am dancing about my living room within a spinning hoop or am out on the mission field. He watches and loves me, yearning for my companionship and attention.
I love to dance. And I love my Lord.
I just need to learn to put the same amount of passion, excitement, and energy into spending time with Him each day that I do into my dance routine. Whenever I return to hoop dancing, I miss it when I am not doing it. I look forward to it each afternoon. I plan my day around it. I love the summer months because it means I can hoop outside in the glory of nature. I moan whenever autumn and winter come because it confines me indoors.I think the same would hold true for our time with God. If we put something into it, we will come to desire that closeness to Him, to covet our conversation and His presence.
It’s a theory I am willing to try out.