I took a walk yesterday, first with a book in hand and then with presence of mind as I looked up and noticed the skies and the birds and the smells and the colors and the name of another book I haven’t read yet came to mind: help, thanks, wow. And I thought of these three simple prayers and what it would look like to integrate them into my days, and so I began thinking about faith and the lack of it and the progression of it and how I used to be and I wondered why I never post theology on social media anymore. I thought sheesh, you really have fallen so far from your Jesus Wore A Tie days. You’re probably overdue for saying something knowledgeable and biblical at the very least. But then I remembered I have so few certainties anymore and that I stopped speaking so confidently as my doubts became more profound. Is there ever a place to speak from uncertainty and doubt and failure instead of as a shining beacon of faithfulness?
My mind wandered through familiar struggles between ideas and some part of me argued with another part over which idea was more correct as I walked past the pond with no shoes and a stinging in my soles and soul. And suddenly there was a sense of intuitive clarity. Not of answers, but of rhythms.
There's an analogy of marriage as a dance, of our conversations, our arguments, our ways of being and existing near one another as an exchange of movements towards synchronization. I thought of art and the process of creating something beautiful either out of nothing or many disparate things or out of something discordant or uncoordinated. I thought of the skill it requires - that art is not an expression of unbound chaos or impulsivity. I thought of ballet and the particular position of your feet or hands, the hours and hours of practicing form in order to convey effortlessness. I thought of the years it takes to master the form and skill of an art, whether drawing or painting, or dance or music before you can play within and without those bounds to create something uniquely exceptional. Isn't faith a dance with God? Perfected over time, with many missteps and improvisations, with grace and endurance and attempts at beauty and harmony through patient practice and individual growth and talent and innovation and uncoordinated collisions?
I imagined myself dancing with God through a series of moves in the form of decisions in my life and beliefs on my part, and it was the closest I had felt to him in a while. As though in that moment I had realized he was just beyond the curtain, and had always been, I just hadn’t looked. Maybe I was looking at my feet or my next step or looking around for a different partner or somewhere where there wasn’t a curtain and I could see more clearly.
But I had been making movements nonetheless. And he had been responding in kind. And just for a moment I caught a glimpse of our dance and realized we had never stopped, and that perhaps we never would. That we had a whole dancefloor to work through my doubts, my inconsistencies, my failures, my pain, my fears, my wrong ideas, my sin, my sincerity. And if God could smile at me like I imagined he could, then I think he did, and so did I, and I knew we had all the time in the world to perfect this dance and make it beautiful and that maybe it is beautiful even now, in all its glorious holy human imperfection.
Maybe that’s the only certainty I have now. That God meets us where we are and delights in the dance, and maybe I do, too.