Archive | October, 2012

Theology of the Barre

26 Oct

Friends who know me well describe me as a highly disciplined person which I always find kind of funny because I don’t see myself that way at all. I like to flop around and read a book more than your average bird, which to me is the height of indulgence… And what they call discipline or drive, I see more as sheer neurosis. But I have been thinking quite a bit about this notion of discipline lately.

When I was in the fourth grade, I had a baby sitter who studied ballet and from the moment I set eyes on her toe shoes, I was obsessed with the idea of taking ballet, which my parents ultimately agreed to. Once enrolled, I was quite disciplined for my age. I didn’t mind the tedium of barre exercises and the long hours of practice required to strengthen one’s muscles and to contort the body into aesthetic positions. At home, I used the kitchen counter as my barre and lived for Tuesdays and Thursdays when I had class. Yet enthusiasm waned over time when the choreography became increasingly more complex, when the initial thrill of pointe gave way to blisters and calf spasms, and when I was asked to come to ballet five days a week instead of two. I hung up my toe shoes and played volley ball in high school instead.

I wonder if our spirituality requires the same delicate balance of discipline and joy. When the Holy Spirit touched me, I felt that same elation as when my feet first slid across the dance floor. I felt I could soar through the air and was beautiful. In God, I felt grace and transcendence and awe. And I also felt the hard work to which I was called.

When we study theology, we marry practice with doctrine. We also pull everything out of the closet, strip the beds and do the wash. We then reassemble and put the house back in order. And like the best of ballet dancers, we do this daily or our muscles will grow weak. And we rely on the barre always before testing our own strength.

I am reminded that contained within the word discipline is another – disciple. And that I am a very young dancer.

Letting Go?

2 Oct

I just sold my car. It was remarkably easy to do. My lovely new neighbors wanted to buy the vehicle because it was cheap, gets good gas mileage, and I have all its maintenance records. And yet, because this was my mom’s car, something tugs at my heart strings. I am giving up yet another piece of her.

Now the irony is, I will see my old car daily because it will still be parked in its usual spot. The neighbors live just one house over, so the car is not relocating.

How did I grow so attached to a beat up, micro size Hyundai? And why does trading up for a used Mercedes in mint condition make me both happy and sad? For one thing, I have loved having a car that I haven’t had to worry much about. If the Hyundai was filthy, I never cared. If the paint was chipping (which it was), I never lost any sleep over it. Now I will be washing and waxing and caring for a piece of metal, which is pretty out of character for me.

Yes, it was time to be in a more safe, sturdy car and I was eventually going to have to buy another used car anyway. At some point, the twelve year old Hyundai was going to need more repairs than the vehicle’s net value. It was smarter to sell while I could still get money for it. And the other car was a bargain that wasn’t going to come around again. However, here is one more memory of mom that will fade.

My mom would love my new car. She would find me a fool to cling to hers’. Yet when I think of the little white Hyundai, I think of her.

And so, I let go of the little white car. But as my father used to say, “If you really love something, let it go, and if it really loves you, it will return.”

And I realize, my mom has more than come back to me. She is following me as I journey; helping me as I log more miles.