Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010.11.10 The Waltz

Today is one of my granddaughters’ eleventh birthday. I remember being eleven, right on the cusp teetering between adolescence and girlhood. At eleven you balance the universe on your small shoulders and you do it with grace—until you fall over.

Happy Birthday Isabella, Izzy Bizzy, whom I sometimes call Isa la Bella. This story is for you.

When I was at Smith college they used to have father/daughter weekends. They don’t do it any more and it was probably a sentimental but not too thoughtful idea even back in the ‘50s because some girls didn’t have fathers or were estranged for different reasons from their fathers. Luckily uncles sometimes filled in.

I was lucky to have a father who wanted to escort me on this weekend. One of the events, another goofy ‘50s thing, was a waltz contest. In a moment of foolhardiness Dad and I decided to enter the contest.

We started out in a clumsy way, each of us stepping on the other’s toes as we jerked around the floor. Finally, Dad said, “Look, I know how to do this better than you. So hang on and let me lead.” He was right about my dancing prowess.

My mother, a good dancer, had always told me I couldn’t dance so I stopped trying.

But my father thought WE could do it together. He grabbed me so tightly I could hardly breathe and began to move about the floor. Of course I resisted but he held on until I gave up trying to control the movements, mostly because I couldn’t anyway.

At first it was awkward but suddenly we got the rhythm, the waltz beat 1 2 3, 1 2 3. And off we went—actually with grace. We were waltzing. We were gliding as one.

And guess what? We won the darn contest!! Who knew? We were brilliant.

The reason I tell this story is because it’s an image of God for me. Not that my dad was anything like God, but the waltz was. It gave me an experience of what spirituality can be—a partnership with God, a dance that flows in balance to give you faith and to empower you to live life with compassion and goodness. Jesus and other gurus waltz well with Divinity, but so can we all.

The waltz is what it feels like when you and God are in union. You can tell because you feel powerful and humble all at once inside.

I learned to trust someone who actually did know more than I did, but I didn’t quit. I stayed in the dance, gradually letting go of total control—and fear.

Waltz on, Izz!