Friday, September 08, 2006
You are like a Hurricane
During Lent last spring I was tempted to 'give up' something meaningful. And then I remembered that the past 12 months were about giving many things up and away. I decided to embrace instead of push away, to add instead of subtract. I decided that I was going to pour my Lenten meditations and prayers into my fingers and onto paper.
It had been years since I had allowed myself the freedom to do art. I completed three pieces, each in a different medium. This one is my favorite. It is a self-portrait.
It didn't begin that way. I just had my sketchbook, my pastels and the sunny warmth of the front porch at 29 Union calling to me. I would have never set out to draw myself. I don't know what happened.
I have never been light on my feet. I guess I've always been too self-conscious. I'm sure the church's stern frown upon dancing in my younger years had is affect. Needless to say, I have rarely lost myself in the moment of movement and the dance of joy.
But, there were two euphoric recollections of freedom that have etched their way deep into my memories. I guess they came to life here on this page.
The first was during my college years while staffing a week of camp. This was not the camp of my childhood and they held a DANCE (gasp) for their campers and it shocked my little Brethren roots to the core. I watched from the sidelines with my pharisaic nose in the air. Until the dj called all of the females, young and old to the center of the floor. How could I not go?
We all joined hands and he played Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun - and we circled and circled, spinning faster and faster. I have never felt so free. So full of life and so uninhibited. All self-consciousness stripped away and I joined the whole instead of the fear of the one alone. The isolation that comes from judgment can be a desolate thing indeed.
The second time was only about five years ago, at the National Youth Workers Convention in Pittsburgh. They invited Andy Hunter to a late night option to give us a taste of what England was doing on the rave front. I was so excited. Keith not so much. I wanted to get lost in the crowd and find that place of becoming part of the whole in worship.
Walking into the room they reserved was a huge disappointment. About 12 people were on the dance floor with about 20 more watching. At a convention of 1000's I had to admit that I was more than a bit saddened that more people weren't joining in so that I could loose my inhibitions and spin. Childhood restrictions on dance also make for little grace and ease of movement on the dance floor. I pictured myself doing the "Elaine" and becoming a spectacle instead of a sum of the parts that make up the whole.
We sat at the sidelines, Keith wanting to leave, I wanting to stay until more people showed up. Then I noticed that his stage was set up in front of a large curtained off section of the room. I got up, without telling Keith where I was going and snuck back behind the curtain. No one could see me. I became invisible even to myself, and able to dance for that audience of One. Tentatively I put out my arms, I closed my eyes and began to feel the beat and I swayed and wove my hands into the music. My feet were still firmly etched to the floor though.
A couple of minutes changed that as I realized my invisible safety and then I began to spin - I know it wasn't full of dancer-like grace and moves of skill, but rather it seemed like the three year old I once was turning in time to the music of Lawrence Welk my parents often listened to in my childhood. Although not artistic in the least I was free and worshipping my God to my full extent, body, soul & spirit, tears streaming down my face.
I think that it what flowed onto the paper here. I imagined myself in the middle of the greening grass, long skirts and sleeves flowing in the wind and spinning like my life depended on it. I was lost in the medium, adding color, my hands smearing and blurring, green, yellow, orange and red all swirling and whilrling onto the paper.
It is how I long to be - so carefree, so uninhibited, and fearless in my worship. So unlike reality.
I'm glad it's on paper. It makes it feel more real. It reminds me that there are times when heaven touches earth and I am transcendent in my worship. Freed from all that hangs on me, body and soul.
I realized after looking at it that it was so similar to a weather map of those tropical storms that whirl and spin in this season - so dangerous and out of control. Oh the damage they wreak and wreck.
That brought up another memory from when I was in middle school. Our bus driver was a crazy lump of a woman named Hilda. I remember crossing Highway 50 on the way home and we were sideswiped by a car on the four lane highway. After that we called her "Hurricane Hilda". It was then that the fear of the hurricane began winding it's way into my psyche.
Hilda is far too close to Heidi for my liking. I never wanted to be known as "Hurricane Heidi" - destruction, wind gusts of 100 mph, unruly wildness. Not the image the church ever told me a woman was to embrace. And far too much like the wild things I knew were deep within me.
This became a secret obsession of mine. Each hurricane season I would listen for the choice for "H" - fearing that my own name would be linked to those horrible tragedies. Hurricane Heidi. Oh the destruction, the devastation the wild things within me can wreak and wreck. Not a metaphor I welcomed freely.
Since then I have pondered it's similarity to the fears I have in embracing my voice and my call here in our new community. I have been silenced and silenced myself for so long that the power of the force within me terrifies me. Will I come on as a fire hose instead of a fountain? How will it ever be possible? How can I spin and not wreck? How can I participate and not be so self-conscious and afraid? How dear God can I serve you and fulfill the call you have on my life?
Only when I spin for You. Only when it is truly done in worship. God help me.