Today the Portland-area congregation where I attend services had a family dance. Despite the fact that I danced exactly twice (with two people who had differently spelled versions of the same name, ironically enough), given the fact that there was a distinct lack of people my age to dance with, it was an enjoyable experience nonetheless, largely for the fact that it offered plenty of opportunity to talk, which is something I enjoy. Better yet, the conversations I had allowed me to ponder various sets of a larger issue I have been running over in my mind often over the past few months.
Being the sort of person who tends to imbue everything with meaning, often far more meanings than are entirely necessary to get the job done, I tend to ponder the meaning and significance of matters, especially when those matters become patterns. Often, I wonder why am I here. Yet this question has both larger and more local concerns. It is one thing to ponder why one is here on this globe, what particular purpose within the larger dance of life is responsible for, to see how one’s experiences and talents and observations can help the world to be a better place in some way, or how one can help provide encouragement and service to God and to others. I tend to think of this question locally as well as globally. I wonder what sort of opportunities are being provided here and now, and how my own needs and concerns are met by those areas and opportunities as well as how I may meet the needs and desires of those around me.
It was pleasant today in that I got to talk with a few people I have not had the chance to speak to much at all, in ways that were enjoyable and thought provoking. Clearly, in some of the cases, there was a bit of an element of dancing to the conversation. This was true in at least two cases, and the two cases were (as is often the case) interrelated. One of them was the conversation I had during a dance with a young lady, which went well and was very friendly, and certainly watched by a variety of people. It was good to know that on both sides the same level of friendliness and humor and generosity of spirit was present in person as well as online, considering the lack of face to face conversation I had been able to enjoy with that person before. Suffice it to say that I expect to talk a lot more to this person in the future, God willing.
Intriguingly enough, I had the opportunity to talk with a relative of the young lady I danced with quite a bit as well, who happens to be my age and in roughly the same situation of life that I am in, which provided all sorts of intriguing subtexts to the conversation. After all, it seemed somewhat clear to me (and perhaps very clear to the person I was talking with) that we were talking about his relative at several points, and he offered some very sensible commentary as well as general explanations about character. Being an open and honest and sincere person, as well as someone who is rather sensitive to being observed by others, it was clear that there was a mutual feeling out of character and an attempt by both of us to understand the other and what was going on. Even more intriguingly, there was a mutual sense of respect and approval from what I could gather, which was quite pleasant as far as I am concerned. Obviously, that has not always been the case, but at any rate it appears that my conversation and conduct are drawing a fair bit of (positive) attention as my intentions to settle in the area and involve myself in the business of the local congregation and its people are being noted with approval. This is heartening to me, given my tendencies to worry and be anxious by nature.
In many ways, life is an uncertain dance. Today, while I was waiting in line for dinner at the pot luck before dance, I heard a young lady talk about her lack of confidence in the presence of some family members who were also in line with me as we had all gotten out of the youth choir practice at the same time and immediately ran to eat because we were all quite hungry. Given that this young lady was very young, I did not wish to creep her out by seeking to give her encouragement, but it greatly puzzled me as to why she lacked confidence because there were a lot of reasons why she should feel confident. She has a good family (I know two of her older brothers and they are both great people, and her parents are awesome too), she’s a beautiful young lady who is friendly and good-humored (that is, she can laugh at the jokes of others appreciatively even if she’s not a joke teller herself). It is easy for me to think of reasons why others should feel confident, and perhaps others feel the same way about me. Some of the uncertainty we face in life is outside of us, in the fact that all of us are subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, some of it outrageously good and some of it outrageously bad. I know I for one am deeply appreciative of the divine providence that has worked its way in my own life, despite the fact that clearly I’m not worthy of such divine favor. Some of that uncertainty we face comes from inside of us, from our own anxiety or fear, whether that is fear of failure or success. But so long as we dance, we can learn the steps better and enjoy the dance and conversations partners we find along the way.