Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Looking in the Window: Sharing from the Soul



When a new theater opened in Cobb County, Georgia, near us, we rushed to get tickets for a show, "Lord of the Dance." Since I'd wanted to see the performance for a long time and already had in mind how good it would be, I thought I possibly had set myself up for disappointment. But the international dance troop charmed me from the instant their nimble feet tapped the stage. Following the story about the Little Spirit that travels through time to help the Lord of the Dance protect his people from Don Dorcha, the Dark Lord, I glanced quickly at my bulletin between scenes.

While the Irish background music, fiddlers and black and white costumes set the mood for different dances the entertainers' body movements depicted honor, impending danger, evil and finally the triumph of good. I sensed a desire from each of them to connect with the spectators to bring their message to us loud and clear. During some of the jigs the Warriors moved their tap shoes so fast I wondered if drumsticks could have kept up with the staccato rhythm. As limber as puppets on strings, they portrayed the victory of virtue over evil covering the stage with high-stepping energy and smiling faces. It must have taken them years to perfect their God-given talents to perform at their level. They took me to another world, letting me escape the pressures of this one for an afternoon.

Later, still filled with enthusiasm from seeing "Lord of the Dance," I returned to the theater to attend another performance, which I won't name because I sat through the entire show wondering when it would end. The artists dressed in black pants or skirts and white shirts sat on the stage in a semi-circle facing each other as opposed to looking at the audience. A man greeted those attending, and the program of musical renditions began. I only could name three of the songs they played, and that was because I recognized the melodies. I had no program and no one made announcements identifying the arrangements. Occasionally, one of the performers raised an instrument in the air at the end of a piece, and I wondered if it signaled something to the other artists, or if it was a gesture meant for the observers. On the way out of the theater my husband said, "I felt like I was watching a jam session."

"Yes, they seemed so detached from us."

I admire all musicians for the hard work it takes to become accomplished, so I mention the latter performance and our conversation about it for only one reason. Once it occurred to me that those on stage had distanced themselves so far from the onlookers I wondered, "Am I a Christian living in my own world like those artists?" It's one thing for me to go to church and Sunday school, to read my Bible and say my prayers. But am I devoted to my faith, passionate enough about it to include others in it? Just as the dancers in "Lord of the Dance" perfected their skills to reach out to viewers I need to hone my ability to communicate my convictions. And, I imagine it will take me even longer to accomplish my goal than it did the dancers. But, I'm going to start by trying to listen closely to people so I can identify those who may need to hear a kind word, be encouraged or be reassured. I hope when the perfect opportunity presents itself I will tune into the seeker and include him or her in the Christian community.

Hebrews 13: 1 - 2: "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."