Dec 04 2007
As I walked to work this afternoon, I received a call on my cell phone from an old friend whom I hadn’t heard from in a couple of years. “I was just thinking of you!” I said joyfully. “Really? Whoa,” she said, with the kind of awe that such synchronicities inspire.
It was true: I had just been thinking of her. During the previous week’s move back into our condominium, Kevin and I had unearthed pictures of dear old friends, including hers, and placed them where we can see them often. We had unpacked prized mementos from our previous, separate lives and had shared again the stories that go with them. We had rediscovered family treasures that link us to something larger than ourselves and that help each of us to feel rooted. It had been a week of rummaging through memories, as well as belongings, for we had also recycled a small mountain of paper and had carted off to the Salvation Army several carloads of “loot” that we hope will make good and useful gifts for their new owners. I was feeling a new sense of organization—and a renewed strength in the lifelines that anchor us in friendships and life experiences.
And now, here was my old friend on the phone. Sadly, she was calling to tell me of the loss of another old friend from college, who had died a few weeks earlier after eight years of wrestling courageously with breast cancer. I sat down on the steps of one of the buildings across from St. James Park to listen to my friend and to share our memories of the beautiful person I had known a little and she had known a lot. The world seemed a little dimmer without that person’s light-filled spirit, and our mournfulness mingled with the autumn air. Still, it was good to be together in voice and spirit, even though my friend lives all the way across the country.
As we were speaking, shadowy movements in the windows of the Senior Center across the street caught my eye. Up and down the shadows went, in a rhythmic motion that surely couldn’t come from the traffic. Finally I realized that I was watching a ballroom dance class in one of the center’s large open rooms. Through the windows I could dimly see couples bobbing and turning slowly in the graceful rhythms of a waltz. Silent, peaceful, steady—their dance, from my vantage point, was a gift, hopeful and reassuring.
“Let it be a dance we do,” goes one of our hymns, “may I have this dance with you? Through the good times and the bad times, too, let it be dance.” At this time of year, memories both sweet and bitter can visit us with renewed potency. At this time of year, our losses may mingle with happy surprises, and there is both wistfulness and anticipation in the air. At this time of year, we may be whizzing with energy and joy one moment, and utterly worn out and discouraged the next. How can we “let it be a dance”?
Here, with all my heart, is what I urge us to do: reach out. Grab hold of the lifelines that sustain you—relationships, activities, worship, community, rest. Offer an unasked-for gift of service to someone—anyone, whether stranger or friend. Cast your memory out across your long or short life, and give thanks for every gift of friendship and experience that you find. Look out at this present moment and notice that the world is just waiting for you to love it.
This month, as we explore the themes of faith, hope, love, and joy in worship, I look forward to seeing you here, so that we may gain strength, courage, and grace for this dance we do!