Pentecost 179

Pentecost 179
My Proverbs 29 – 31

The Affirming Dance

On an October morning in a small German village known as Rocken bei Lutzen near Leipzig, a baby was born mid nineteenth century and named Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. The son of a minister in the town, Nietzsche would become an influential philosopher and challenge the then-current thinking on Christianity. Usually in great physical pain, his mental status throughout his life is still being debated. However, his prevailing influence in many circles of theology, philosophy, and ideology are proof that his short life of under sixty years was a productive one. Nietzsche himself measure success this way: “WE should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”

We all know how to dance. Very few of us do. Many will claim it is because we don’t know how or don’t do it very well. The truth is most of us are afraid. We are afraid to move our feet, flutter our hands while our arms are in motion. I ask you to consider if perhaps the key to life is simply to dance.

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.” This advice from humorist Dave Barry could very well be the key to living. Dance is known in many different varieties but all cultures share the concept of dance. Today it is being studied for more than being a pleasurable way to enjoy the rhythms of music. Could it be that there is purpose behind our dancing?

Barbara de Angelis describes this connection of dance to life: “The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.” The National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science is a network of scientists and professionals who are now studying this connection. Their results are very interesting.

Ancient cultures have long used the dance as part of the mating ritual but researchers at Northumbria University and the University of Gottingen have taken to science to determine the validity of this. They wanted to know what women look for in a dancing partner, since “dancing ability particularly that of men, may serve as a signal of mate quality.” One area of study was to determine if things like facial attractiveness, body shape and even perceived socioeconomic status play a role in how people judge the dancing ability of their peers?

In a piece originally published in March 2014 in “The Washington Post” Christopher Ingraham explained their findings: “They found that women rated dancers higher when they showed larger and more variable movements of the head, neck and torso. Speed of leg movements mattered too, particularly bending and twisting of the right knee. In what might be bad news for the 20% of the population who is left-footed, left knee movement didn’t seem to matter. In fact, certain left-legged movements had a small negative correlation with dancing ability, meaning that dancers who favored left leg motion were rated more poorly. While not statistically significant, these findings suggest that there might be something to that old adage about “two left feet” after all. One final surprise – arm movement didn’t correlate with perceived dancing ability in any significant way.”
In conclusion, Ingraham surmised: “Going beyond the dance floor, these findings could demonstrate that men’s’ dance moves could carry “honest signals of traits such as health, fitness, genetic quality and developmental history,” although the authors stress that more research is needed to be sure. It would be particularly instructive to see whether similar findings hold true for men’s’ assessments of women’s’ dancing ability.

Ballroom dancing has long been considered the elite art of couples. The truth is, though, that ballroom dancing is simply recreational dancing by a couple. Just as our living will inevitably involve another, so does the couples’ dance. The name is derived from the Latin word or dance, “ballare”, and now includes different formats and Latin dances.

Ballroom dancing has gained in popularity throughout time. Once considered proof of whether or not a man was capable of being considered a contender on the world stage, it is not the most widely known form of couples’ dancing. Interestingly enough it is the country dance, the square dance, that has that distinction.

The square dance is a four couples’ dance, hence the term square. First recorded in seventeenth century England, the square dance was also thought to be popular in Europe. Considered a folk dance, it was in America that the simple square dance gained status and recognition as well as variations.

Miguel Angel Ruiz also connected dance to affirming life. “Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time.”

Life is changing all the time and sometimes we trip over our own steps. Just as on the ballroom dance competition floor, sometimes another will bump into us. What we need to remember is that dance also can involve freestyle. In the past twenty years, dance has been used to change perception, the attitudes that people have regarding the disabled. More importantly, dance has given the disabled a chance to move, to explore, and to rejoice.

Our lives, like the rhythm of a song, will change. As long as we keep moving our feet towards the celebration of life, we will make a beautiful dance. I agree with William W. Purkey who once said: “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching; Love like you’ll never be hurt; Sing like there’s nobody listening; And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

My Proverb 29
None of us is perfect. We might say the perfect thing in the moment. We might be in the perfect place for the moment. We might look perfect at the moment. We might be the perfect companion of the moment. Still, none of us is perfect. We are, however, able to be joyous in our imperfect life. Instead of striving to be perfect, we should strive to be joyous in our living.

My Proverb 30
The more I study about spiritual beliefs, the more questions I have. The more questions I have, the more I study. In the midst of being on this wheel, I learn about living. Studying the beliefs of myself and others is like being on a treadmill. You don’t see physically the benefits but hope they are there. It is called faith. We continue and suddenly, we realize the benefits of our exercises. It is not a life with all the answers but one of faith, well-toned in hope, prayer, and kindness to others.

My Proverb 31
It is when I awake and realize I neither make the world revolve on its axis nor know everything that I am at my most faithful. The Supreme Being of my soul doesn’t have to exist for everyone. It is enough that He/She exists for me and it is my responsibility to live so that others can see the reality of the Creator.


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