I have learned that belly dance is all about isolation. My teacher taught me this several weeks ago, explaining that the hypnotizing nature of the dance comes from the way the hips and the torso move independently.
I have also learned that the act of learning belly dance is a sort of isolation.
Or at least it is for girls like me who get deep inside their heads whenever they're developing a new skill. I'm a decent dancer, but I do catch glimpses of myself in the mirror, my brow tight and furrowed as I try to make the mechanics of dance look graceful.
My instructor broke my extreme focus on self last week though, when she had us line up and perform a walk/hip-bump from one end of the room to the other. As always, I started in my head, my brain crunching around: "Step, hip, step, hip, swoop arms, fingers together, step, hip . . ."
Then I encountered the miracle of community. My own internal monologue of exaggerated concentration was overpowered by the collective "ching!" of our coin-clad hip scarves. I felt the women around me moving in the same rhythm, arms dipping and extending together, our collective hip-bumps heralding the arrival of some crazy new kind of sexy. When I was aware of being in a community, the dance was easier, and my brow was less furrowed.
The experience seemed to fit in perfectly with recent revelations in my life. As the single lady in a world of nothing but partnered friends, I tend to furrow my brow and tackle life with the attitude of a woman whose only hope at getting it right is her own solitary efforts. I look around me at happy couples, envious of the partnerships they have, the support system that keeps them thriving.
The fact is, not all support systems come from being a couple or having a family, and an attitude of isolation can be nothing short of an insult to the friends and family who routinely have my back . . . not to mention the God who designed the connections that keep me strong and help me thrive.
When I really consider where I am in life right now and what my needs are, I realize that God has already arranged to meet my needs through the community I have. And when I stop sulking long enough to take up my role in the community—to see that I am actually hip-bumping with those around me and not merely on my own—I am able to recognize that I am not a lone dancer straining to succeed. I am part of a company, growing more powerful through a shared rhythm.
God, may every ching-ching of my hip scarf ring out my praises to You.
I am great at withdrawing,
at crawling deep inside myself,
forgetting that I do not, cannot
operate in isolation.
Draw me out again
and show me the community
You've given me.
Make me humble enough
to accept the blessings of others,
bold enough to offer gifts of my own,
and clear-minded enough to see brilliant streaks of You
throughout this priceless community.
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Often we need to wait for things to unfold gloriously and to take time to listen to the angels. Good things come to those who wait to accept them with a grateful heart.