Tag Archives: Dance

Evening at the Dance Recital

This past weekend Wendy and I were invited to attend our friend, Kennedy’s, dance recital. I’ll admit that I give a good-hearted groan when facing and evening of three hours plus of little girls dancing. The truth is that I really enjoy watching dance done well and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Taylor, Megan, and Kennedy developing their twinkletoes. We had a fun night on Friday attending the recital and then going out for a late bite with her family.

We’ve attended Kennedy’s recitals for a few years now and it’s been so enjoyable watching her grow into a graceful and beautiful young lady. Her folks asked me to bring my camera and take some photos (like they really had to twist my arm!). For an amateur like me these kind of events always pose a fun photography challenge. I’m always praying that I’ll have a handful of photos worth something at the end of the evening. I’ll let you be the judge. Enjoy.

 

A Reasonable Mystic

In love a throne will be established;
    in faithfulness a man will sit on it—
    one from the house of David—
one who in judging seeks justice
    and speeds the cause of righteousness.
Isaiah 16:4b-5 (NIV)

Yesterday I has someone approach me about a couple of dreams they’d had in which I played a part in their dreams. This person was nervous to share them with me, but they need not have been. I found the images interesting, though I can’t say for certain what they mean, or if they mean anything at all.

I consider myself a reasonable mystic. I believe that there are things in God’s creation, things of the Spirit, that lie outside our conscious understanding. I believe that God uses the prophetic. I believe that God sometimes speaks through dreams. I equally believe that we humans always mess things up whenever we try to package the divine into a human equation. I don’t believe all dreams are divine. Sometimes dreams are just dreams.

So it is with the ancient prophets. Isaiah was pronouncing a prophetic judgement against the Kingdom of Moab, a small nation that existed on the east side of the Dead Sea. Yet amidst the prophecy against Moab there lies a verse about the Messiah. It sort of sticks out in today’s chapter like a sore thumb.

Love is His throne.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” – Jesus

Faithful is the One who sits on the throne.
“…if we are faithless,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

One from the House of David.
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:11

One who in judging seeks justice.
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
    the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”
(Jesus quoting Isaiah) Matthew 12:18

and speeds the cause of righteousness.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” -Jesus

The world of the prophetic is an interesting place. It is a place where one prophetic message carries within it a wholly separate, though complementary prophetic message. Within a message for Moab on which Isaiah himself places a three-year timeline (vs. 13) is a prophetic word that would begin to be fulfilled some 700 years later.

And, sometimes dreams, which might otherwise be merely a natural nocturnal brain activity, contain snatches of the divine.

I thanked my friend for sharing the images and dreams with me. I explained that I would store the information and hold on loosely. If it’s something important then it will be made clear at the right time and place. If not, then it was certainly entertaining to hear the dreams described. I am discovering that the divine dance is an exercise in holding the right tension. Cling too tightly, step too mechanically and I step on my Partner’s toes. Hold too loosely and I let my Partner slip away. Then I’m dancing on my own, and that’s always awkward.

The Dance of Sliding Doors

But the people of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so the Jebusites live with the people of Judah in Jerusalem to this day.
Joshua 15:63 (NRSV)

SlidingdoorsThere was a film many years ago called Sliding Doors which has stuck with me since I first saw it. The movie, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, tells the story of a young woman. Actually, the movie tells two stories. In the beginning of the story we see her heading to catch a train. The movie then splits. In one part of the movie we see what her life would be like if the “sliding doors” of the train stop her from catching her train. In the other part of the movie we see what her life would be like if she squeezed through the “sliding doors” and made it on the train. The film leaves you thinking about all of the small moments in life that may have had profound impact on the way our lives turned out.

As I look back over my life journey I can pinpoint certain waypoints where a decision made a significant impact on my trajectory. This is life. What may seem like a relatively small decision in the moment may change our lives forever. Even typing that sentence prompts my heart to whisper: “Lord, please direct my steps.”

Today’s chapter ends with what seems like a relatively trivial fact. Caleb and his tribe did not drive the Jebusites from Jerusalem. Okay. Great. Whoop-te-do. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

For Caleb and his generation it mattered very little. Jerusalem was, at that time, a rather insignificant village on the borderlands of the tribe of Judah’s inheritance. No one had any inkling that the small village of Jerusalem would someday be the political and religious hotspot on Earth. The fact that the Jebusites remained there and Caleb didn’t drive them out wasn’t a major deal for them. But, it would be a bigger deal in a few generations when David was ascending the throne.

It was David who chose the Jebusite city of Jerusalem to be the capitol city of the nation of Israel. David was desperately trying to unite a fractured family of tribes into one nation. Jerusalem was a strategic choice for a host of reasons. The fact that it was a Jebusite city made Jerusalem a more neutral choice in the eyes of the other tribes. Being a border town, Jerusalem was less likely to raise the ire of the other tribes than if David chose a town in the heart of Judah’s land. David would have to take the town that Caleb left alone in order to make it his capitol. In the end, Caleb’s choice not to take Jerusalem allowed Jerusalem to remain an inter-national city where people of different peoples lived in contention with one another. It remains so to this day.

Today I’m thinking about choices. I’m thinking about decisions that effect the course of our lives. I’ve come to believe along the journey that there is a dance that happens between me and God in the choices I make. I seek where He is leading me, but He doesn’t force my hand. I sometimes am required to make my own move. As with a good dance partner, He anticipates my step and counters to be right where I need Him to be. Sometimes I stumble awkwardly, but He counters again and somehow redeems my misstep into what seems a choreographed moment.

It’s easy to be paralyzed in fear of choices we must make. I observe many wallflowers who stand endlessly on the periphery of life, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of looking foolish, or falsely believing that their every step must be perfect. I’ve learned that I have to get in there and dance. Maybe the doors shut before I get on the train. Maybe I sneak on and catch my connection. Either way, I can trust God to direct my step. He’s a flawless dance partner.

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featured image: sudama via Flickr

The Art and Progression of Sexual Intimacy

Hard to believe, but I have been blogging for nearly 10 years and have written over 3200 blog posts in that time. On Remember When Wednesdays I repost something I wrote from yesteryear for newer readers. It’s always interesting to me the posts that, as I put it, “get legs” and seem to perpetually drive traffic on my blog.

For today’s Remember When Wednesday, I’m reposting The Art and Progression of Sexual Intimacy. It is one of my chapter-a-day posts from the Song of Solomon which seems to have resonated with readers. It was originally published in September of 2013. Enjoy…

My lover tried to unlatch the door,
    and my heart thrilled within me.
Song of Solomon 5:4 (NLT)

One of the things that I love about the Song of Solomon is the way the relational give and take develops between the young man and the young woman in the duet. Like all relationships, there is a progression of the relationship from the beginning of the song to the end. There is the initial infatuation with one another as they look upon one another and are impressed with what they see. Then there is the growing desire for one another as they seek to be in one another’s presence. In today’s chapter we feel the growing desire and anticipation of sexual intimacy.

The young woman is having another dream, and this time she hears the young man attempting to unlatch the door of her bedroom. Her heart is thrilled (and, I suspect, other parts of her as well). When she gets up to let him in, she finds him gone. Disappointed, she runs through the streets in a frantic search for him. The night watchmen find her and beat her up. You can see in the dream the anticipation of intimacy, the disappointment that it has not happened, and the intense feelings of personal pain and injury that she has not been able to consummate her love.

I have learned over time that sexual intimacy in marriage is best built with anticipation, just like the progression in Solomon’s song. While sex occasionally occurs at the spur of the moment, motivated by a surprisingly sudden surge of hormones, the truth is that there is typically a subtle song and dance that happens between me and Wendy. A glance and casual touch at the breakfast table hints at the possibility that this day may come to a passionate end. Hints are dropped by the wearing of things that the other has commented pleases his or her eye. A dab of cologne on a day that none is typically warranted. There is the casual touch in public that lingers a moment longer than usual. The mind is engaged. The eyes are engaged. The sense of smell is stimulated. The ears hear coded messages: “I shaved my legs today.”

Playful thoughts flitter in and out of each other’s minds during the day. Anticipation builds. A regular evening dinner takes on new layers of sensual meaning as each become aware of what I mentioned in yesterday’s post: There is a connection between senses. The feeding of one appetite will invariably lead to another. The main course tastes so good. The wine seems downright decadent, and savoring the dessert feels almost sinful.

One of the things that Solomon’s song subtly conveys to me is that the climactic, sexually intimate event of the day does not typically just happen. It happens when husband and wife learn and know one another’s subtle, sensory dance. It is me learning how to slowly feed multiple senses of my wife during the day in the ways she best responds. It is my wife learning just how to tease the deliberate build up of anticipation that will lead to a successful, intimate feast after dinner that night. There is an art to the intimacy between husband and wife that takes on the unique characteristics of the two artists involved in creating the intimate moment.

In contrast, I find that popular media (especially pornography) likes to portray sex like it’s most awesome when easily cranked out like one of those ultra high-speed photocopiers at Kinko’s (yes, pun intended): Get it fast. Get it often. Get it easy. Everyone gets a copy. Sure, you get the picture – but it’s monochrome, impersonal, and unoriginal. Each one is just like the one before. It quickly becomes meaningless and lifeless. You crank out more copies hoping for something different in the output picture, but it will never be an original work of art.

My experience is that sexual intimacy does not become a breathtaking original work of art unless there are two people learning to create something together over time, learning to work together, make mistakes, erase errors, try something new, explore, play, complement one another’s individual style, and develop their own unique style as a couple over time together. As Solomon’s Song suggests, there is a progression. It gets better, deeper, more refined, and even more powerful in ways neither husband nor wife could scarcely imagine, even in the intoxicating infatuation of the early relationship.

Sexual intimacy between husband and wife is a work of art.

Top Five Things I Hate About Weddings

Wendy and I are attending three weddings this month. I hate to be a curmudgeon, but I must confess that I really don’t like most weddings I attend. (If I attended your wedding, please don’t take this personally. I’m sure I truly enjoyed myself at your wedding!) I have officiated a lot of weddings and, like most of us, have attended a ton. Typically, I don’t look forward to the experience.

Here are the top five things I typically lament about weddings:

  1. The real meaning of the occasion is typically minimized. Most of the weddings I attend are all about window dressing and very little about the heart of the occasion. I have officiated and attended way too many ceremonies with hungover couples and wedding parties for whom the real significance of the moment is completely lost.
  2. The ceremony is usually too long. I tell people that the perfect wedding was about 23 minutes long. That’s long enough to simply and clearly communicate the meaning of the occasion and make your vows, but it doesn’t belabor the moment for your guests. I’ve been to way too many weddings that drone on for over an hour.
  3. No one knows what’s going on. While there is usually a plan with regard to getting from wedding to reception and how things are going to transpire, guests are often left in the dark as to what that plan actually is. Because the couple, their family, and the wedding party are all busy after the ceremony congratulating each other, wedding guests are often left wondering what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to go. This creates anxiety, impatience, and frustration among the throng, which is not conducive to kicking off a good reception.
  4. The guests are kept waiting (at worst, without provision). The worst weddings are those in which the bride and groom take photos after the ceremony and before the reception, and have no plan for taking care of their guests. The worst we ever experienced was a reception held at a venue about 20 minutes from the church. After making the commute to the reception venue, we were left waiting in the reception hall almost two hours with no food or drink served while the wedding party took pictures and went for a limousine joy ride. Then, when the wedding party did arrive, we were made to endure long speeches and powerpoint slideshows of the bride and groom before being allowed to eat. And, the food wasn’t worth waiting for.
  5. The dance is lame. Great weddings are generally made great by having a great dance at the reception complete with a mix of music (from all eras) that allows for romantic slow dancing, communal line dancing, and shake-your-booty improvisational dancing. Too many weddings do not give enough thought to the DJ, the mix of music, and providing a fun space and atmosphere that will make people want to get on the floor and trip the light fandango.

Joy of the Dance

2014 06 13 Kennedy Roose Dance 035 (1)

Wendy, Taylor, and I had the pleasure of attending our friend, Kennedy’s, dance recital. We were in the back of the auditorium so I was forced to shoot with my 300mm telephoto lens which is never ideal. Nevertheless, I was able to capture a few shots that made me happy. This is, perhaps, my favorite. The girls in their classic ballet costumes reminded me of a Degas painting. I was struck all evening, as I zeroed in on Kennedy, just how joyful she was in each dance. I thought this pose of Kennedy’s captured it beautifully. Watching Kennedy grow up and knowing her heart, I felt that her eyes at this moment were lifted heavenward to the Lord of the Dance, whom had to be pleased with His young dancer.

 

 

Father’s Day Weekend 2014

Tom and Taylor Fathers Day 2014 IMG_8555It was a gorgeous Father’s Day weekend and we tried to make the most of it. On Friday, Wendy and I headed to Des Moines. While Wendy took care of some personal errands, I took my Dad out for a father/son lunch at Granite City. We then headed back to the folks’ house. Taylor got off work early and came over to join me and we had a nice visit the four of us.

Friday night was our friend, Kennedy’s, dance recital. Wendy, Taylor, Kev and I met at Urban Grill for drinks, then Kev left while Wendy, Taylor and I had a bite of dinner together and we celebrated Father’s Day together. The dance recital was long (over three hours), but Kennedy was beautiful and danced her heart out. We loved watching her.

Saturday was work day at Vander Well Manor. We recently replaced our old garage doors and refaced the front of the garage with new siding and trip. Suzanna has been working on painting the trim this past week along with some general trip painting that needed to be done around the house. She continued that while Wendy and I tackled the chaos of our basement. It feels so good to have cleaned up and organized some things. Having taken some time off on Friday, Wendy and I sat on the couch and worked several hours on Saturday afternoon/evening while we watched the Cubs beat the Phillies and then watched Ivory Coast beat Japan in the World Cup.

Sunday morning Wendy and I headed to Albia where I gave the morning message at The Gate church which meets in a building on the SE corner of the square there. It’s a small gathering of about 40-50 people. Wendy graduated from high school in Albia, and one of her closest friends from high school is a leader in the church there, so it was great to connect and catch up. I missed a call from Madison while we were at church. Wendy and I headed back to an empty house as Suzanna had headed to Ankeny to visit her and Wendy’s folks. Wendy and I grabbed a bite of lunch and did a little more work before heading back to Des Moines mid-afternoon.

We met Taylor at Jordan Creek Mall late Sunday afternoon. Wendy went off for some quiet time while Taylor and I had a little daddy/daughter date which began at Cold Stone Creamery and ended at Champps. We all headed back to Kev and Beck’s house about 6:00 and then headed up to Plaza Pub to grab some pizza for carry out before retiring back at the house for pizza, wine and conversation that went until about 10:30 p.m. When we got home, Suzanna was up and we debriefed with her about her Father’s Day with mom and dad Hall before getting to bed way too late (or early, as it was well after midnight).