The estimated reading time for this post is 10 minutes
It is all a setup; you only don’t know it yet.
It often comes in the trope of “Are you ready to dance like—you know what’s coming next is—“David danced.” Then the person, usually the praise lead, tops up with a reference to the King’s wife who mocked him and so stayed barren all her life. “So put on your dancing shoes…”,s/he says next, and some literally remove their fancy shoes. But it’s all good. To each their own interpretation. Then s/he goes, “Tell your neighbor,”uh-oh, “ ‘Neighbor-neighbor,if you can’t dance, steer clear of me.’” Now, that is where you gon’ have a problem: In those moments, you just wonder why it’s as though you’re odd for thinking the kernel of worship is vertical adoration, and not horizontal competition.
If we shouldn’t despise those who can dance their way to eternity and back, why should they deride us who cannot whine our waist to save our lives? Mind your dance and let me mind my non-dance; how hard can that be?
Come to think of it, unlike, say, music, where thicker lines are easily drawn, is there actually a template of church/godly dance? But, oh my, do we have a host of blacklisted movement of the body, many of which are not so adjudged because the body is moved seductively or undignifyingly but because, well, it didn’t originate “from the fold.”
If King David danced to the extent of being labelled undignified by a woman who normally may have been a yes man to the every word and conduct of his majesty, maybe man must have truly gone the whole length of wildness. Or maybe it mattered not, so long it was directed heavenwards; but since there is an undrafted code of behavioral conduct suspended in the cathedral air, whether my unconventional dance steps—even if it were the only one I knew how to—would be labelled of the streets, I may just withdraw into my default comportment of self-respect. Maybe it is first a temperament thing. Maybe. Because, on a typical day, there is this calculative consciousness about me.
I mean, I can go through an entire service without even turning to see the face of the person beside me. So, if my sense of self is this stilted, you should understand that if I move one leg to a song, it is because I believe it doesn’t make someone else uncomfortable. Do not encourage me to do something heartily without as much as guidelines for it and then go ballistic, claiming I ignored rules. Some of us are so helplessly self-aware and with too low a threshold of embarrassment to want to risk having to go out our shells to be told we went too all out. Than be labelled the poster child of overindulgence, we’ll rather opt for the dignity of non-participation. No, usher, I’m not offended; I’m only being respectful. Self-respectful, specifically.
I cannot agree enough that as with other collaborations in life, there is something of a motivation about dancing in the midst of like-minded people, I mean, reserved as I was and still am, I once co-discovered, during a fun session in corpers’ lodge during NYSC some half a dozen years ago, a dance that consisted of merely marching on the spot. No fuss. No moves to learn.
Heck, my Girlfriend and I till date still laugh ourselves hoarse over someone’s similarly simplistic dance to Master KG’s Jerusalema, a dance I consider to be the abc-xyz of fast-paced songs, the dream-come-true guide for frustrated souls like mine, a timeless style that will linger beyond all these swift-rising, short-lived ones: It is the equivalent of walking. Trust me, just plain old walking to match the beat. No body squirming, arm twisting, rising and falling, bending or stretching, or some other energy-intensive gymnastics. Just a super-efficient, low-energy requirement kind of dance that keeps, I know, you happy; shuts, I expect, dance detractors up; and gets, I believe, God glorified. Win-win-win, baby! But no, if the physical agitation isn’t conspicuous and radius of coverage wide enough by their assessment, you’re not doing enough.
Then there is this assumptive conclusion that being young automatically translates to being able to dance. Youthful praise this and that. Maybe you’ve not seen some grown folks dig steps some youngsters can’t attempt. It isn’t just muscle, but mind too. Some folks’ entry level cheerfulness is a tall order for some of us. I have the strength; the skill is just lacking, thank you.
Someone once dragged me—yes, dragged—during, of all services, the annual thanksgiving, to the front of congregation. I was low-hanging fruit for him anyway, having been ushered involuntarily along with a few friends from our default middle-to-back-of-auditorium seat in order to make room for the teeming visitors who came for the special service. This dragger dude, he had appeared from nowhere and grabbed me from the unfortunate second row I was. I bemoan catastrophes I see coming but can do nothing about; there’s, however, something jarring about a misfortune you had no inkling was there, much less headed your way.
In that moment of contention, it was a medley of plea for understanding and an amazement at his audacity, but guy was heedless. My right hand in his taught grip and my Paul Smith shoes losing traction on the tiled floor, I yielded, and especially to not lose balance and make a bigger scene, which would be way more embarrassing for me. See, what can get you out your seat is guarantee that more people than not are seeing, and looking at, you: left, right, front, back, gallery, parking lot, even virtual audience on the internet. If the hosts of heaven also didn’t have a 3600 view of all things already, this was me in angelic spotlight.
What’s this guy’s aim in life? To make a spectacle of me before the altar? To subject me to the indignity of not measuring up? Does this fella still need his name in the Book of Life, if it ever was? I never felt so unskilled in my entire existence. You could give me the tool of an empty page and a blinking cursor and I’ll string a word or two, toss me the tool of an impromptu open mic and I’ll manage to piece you a pep talk, but here was devil’s arch-messenger in church clothes, right in God’s presence and in front of His people, tempting me with the tool of a wide, open space for which I lacked the legwork. “See your life in public” never sounded so real. It was probably no use asking this Satan to get behind me—he’s surrounded me good already, with undismissable witnesses.
Thankfully, and before my disgrace would viral, become meme-worthy, and end up as a comic sticker across chat rooms, some way more memorable legwork-ers soon took over—aisle-and-altar dance invites attract way more responders than salvation altar calls—so my shame was transient, although the embarrassment is just as fresh.
It is also because of scenarios like that that my best services are not those where everyone has to dance to the front, drop offering, or not, and dance back to their seats. Can we just stay in our assigned seats and have the offering bag-bearers do their thing? Every churchgoer must have experienced, or at least seen, that person who, especially they get to the front, where all the attention is, will intensify the dancing, crouching lower, their bum bumping into you, some even retrogressing you along with themselves—like are we going back to our seats halfway? With friends, maybe okay, but how do you do me so as a stranger, and without consultation or consent? I politely avert their literal asses and move on ahead to my seat. Dancers making victims of the less privileged.
I once got a cumulative black-eye from a seat-neighbour during, precisely, the 12th, 18th and 21st of a series of ‘21 thunderous and energetic hallelujahs of victory over the enemy.’ Half-seeing and eye filming, I had to ask if he thinks I’m the enemy here. Passionate you can be, yes, but not so far as to forget this is all essentially an expression, not a performance. Or should you, in the demonstration of spiritual violence to demons, make my body part collateral damage?
There is this portrayal of the act and extent of dancing as the password to accessing the Most High’s blank check. No gainsaying the weight and attendant blessings you attach to the length, loudness and legwork of your praise in tapping into blessings and silencing your adversaries and leveling your mountains and entering your covenant blessings and possessing your promised land but if the gyration of the feet and not gratitude of the heart were the criterion for gaining blessings, I should be the beggar amongst the poorest in life. I sure do have things I am super grateful for per second but I am not frigid for not being hysterical over them, neither am I calling you fanatic for being so, over yours. Our emotional spectra differ, our excitement thresholds vary and, pretty please, our skills don’t match. And I don’t consider myself at any disadvantage in life because of it. I get the place of being yourself; I also feel we should allow others decide on their own wavelength of expressiveness. Or who told you this is not the real me?
So, usher, yes I felt you the last four times; please do not nudge me a fifth time for ‘not dancing’—Ma’am, is it your dancing?—when I’m doing the best I bodily can to at least move. Or I will reply you, and without home training. This grateful heart is trying as is, and the Recipient, luckily not you, isn’t complaining one bit.
PS: The Knight graced our page again.
We have been consistent with our skipping exercises, although, it is becoming harder per day to get dear Debby out of bed in the morning. She reminds me that her subcutaneous tissue is still nowhere near mine, so, I should be gentle on her. While she is a non paying tenant, I cannot but agree with her. However, I have always seen things like exercise as more of building consistency first before shedding weight or building muscles. It is first about disciplining your body to let go of the allure of one more wink of sleep. Oh well, maybe when I write a book.
There has been a very high craving for pizza in recent times. Dominos does not make it any better with their almost daily messages about the promos and discounts they have for me. For me. I do not know if it is their plan to ruin me but I ma certain my God will fight for me.
The truth is, one day, one blessed day, this lock-down will be over. We would have to put aside our sedentary lifestyles and put on our work faces and garments once again. As I was discussing with the Knight, even if systems and things have not changed, which I doubt, people have changed. People have been exposed to possibilities they once saw only as fantasies. People now either know how much more they worth and how much premium should be placed on their skills or how much they have been undervalued, abused and not rated. Life as we knew it is now history. What’s next?
Yesterday was the birthday of a special woman; The Knight’s mum. In celebrating her, I was once again shown how small, really small the world is. The world wide web is just a tiny spider’s web. Long life to you, Ma’am.