Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Fiction: The Church Dance

Friday Fiction

I wrote this a few years ago to describe the exhaustion, loneliness, pain, and longing of a life lived in fearful hiding...and the hope that was barely beginning to blossom at that point. I should note that the feelings recorded below weren't reserved for church. This was how I felt whenever I had to be around people and pretend I was okay. The part that was unique to church was the hope at the end of the poem...a hope which God is now fulfilling.

There's joy for me in reading this now, because going to church no longer feels like this to me. God is calming fear, building trust and love. I hope you will read this in a way that allows the pain to become real to you...because there are doubtless many people who feel this way...but also in a way that praises God for His deliverance.

The Church Dance

We can dance, you and I, but only for a little while.

It’s too hard being close to another person. You brush up against me, you see. If you do that too often, my smile might rub off.

Anyway, if we’re going to dance, then I have to lead. When others lead, I get hurt.

I only know one kind of dance. It’s called a Promenade. I walk out on the floor, I smile, I curtsy, I briefly hook arms with you, and then you’re supposed to pass me off to someone else. Only this is my promenade, so I don’t let you decide how long we linger together. I remove your arm from mine, and if I do it skillfully you’ll think it was your idea.

Smile, greet, laugh, twirl, do it all over again.

I tire very quickly when I dance. Leading is hard work, but I must do it or I might end up trapped in the dizzying whirl of your dance. That’s scary. My fa├žade has clumsy feet, and my mask obscures my vision so it’s hard to see the little footprint patterns on the rug that tell me what you expect of me.

Besides, I don’t know where your steps may take me.

Smile, greet, laugh, twirl, do it all over again.

I can’t breathe well around so many others. My soul has asthma.

Often I can’t bring myself to approach the dance floor at all. Just the thought of it exhausts me.

I’m running out of strength. If you were to ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. I cannot point to anything about this dance which should have sapped me. But I am panting now, gasping for air.

I see the way you look at me. I have become a curiosity to you, an pitiable oddity, a one-woman band providing her own accompaniment, keeping her music to herself and never dancing to anyone else’s.

Smile, greet, laugh, twirl, do it all over again.

You waltz in your circles. I dance alone on a conveyer belt.

We wave at each other as I go by.

Why do I come here? Because this is the place where we talk about Him, the only one who has ever really held me. But I don’t want to dance with Him. Oh no. I want His arms to wrap around me and hold me tight to His chest until I stop whirling.

When I let Him hold me long enough, eventually I can even stop spinning on the inside.

Perhaps here, in His embrace, I can learn to waltz in circles with you.

I would like that.


Today's "Friday Fiction" is being hosted by Lynda at "On the Write Track." Be sure to drop by there for links to other Friday Fiction entries.

And by the way, Happy Reformation Day!

And happy 44th birthday to me!

According to Wikipedia, on the day that I was born, President Lyndon Johnson pledged the creation of the Great Society. I'm honored that he would think my birth would make society great!

That was what he meant, right?


Yvonne said...

Happy Birthday, Betsy!

Your story is like a poem...a long metaphor. Sad and beautiful, I understand it completely.


LauraLee Shaw said...

"I can’t breathe well around so many others. My soul has asthma." Breath-taking--pun intended. I have felt this way so many times. You're such an anointed writer.

Happy happy birthday!

Hoomi said...

Happy birthday, Betsy.

I love it when a piece pulls me in with its emotions and gets me to feel them as well. This one did that quite well.

conarnold said...

This really touches my heart! I have danced that dance and oh, the joy of being held in a loving embrace and the whirling ceasing in that haven of peace! Thank you for sharing this thoughtfully sensitive and well written piece.

Lynda Schab said...

This is so honest, Betsy. What a beautiful, even if sad, description of your pain. And I can honestly say I've also been there, done that. Not fun. Good thing God is all about removing the lessness and leaving us with hope.

The Surrendered Scribe said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. This leaves me breathless. Has to be one of the best pieces of writing I've read in a loooonnnnggg time. I'm so glad you shared this one!

saw425 said...

Betsy, This is really beautiful. And you are brave for expressing what I believe we all feel to one extent or another... And learning to let Him be in the lead in the dance... learning to let Him love us... we find we can love and be loved by others.

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