In Jr. High I was not allowed to take part in the social-dancing classes offered by the Physical Education department. Between the position of our church, my father’s work as a faculty member in the music department at Moody Bible Institute (considered the “West Point of Fundamentalism”), and my mother’s involvement as executive secretary to the director of a conservative mission-sending organization, everything weighted me with the preordained conclusion that good Christians don’t dance. I sat out the unit while my peers learned to do-si-do and allemande left. As classmates hastened to the gym in happy herds, I sat alone in study hall.
Several years back, I had good reason to “sit this dance out.” A backache sent me home early from the office on a Friday afternoon, and in the middle of the night, I woke with one thought original and unbidden: I bet this is shingles. Sure enough, the mirror revealed a few patches blooming on my hip, and the charming Convenient Care Center doctor confirmed that, indeed, the herpes virus had been chomping its way along a neural path on the right side of my body and was popping to the surface. She started me on antiviral medication immediately.
“Oh, we’re sorry you have shingles,” commiserated many former sufferers. “They are so painful.”
But due to early treatment (and my inexplicable early inner self-diagnostic), the patches that bloomed on my skin after the first all began to fade. (Those that popped out before medication all blistered and scabbed over and itched and sent off alarums of pain when touched.) Consequently, I tucked down into the guest-room bed, hunkered beneath a feather comforter, and drugged myself into happy slumber with regular doses of Tylenol 3. Being a good Christian woman with a life full of godly projects, endless hospitality events, mentor-writing projects and endless trips on the road, speaking and teaching, this was the best sleep I’d had in decades, and my dreams were not crowded out by a mind so busy it organizes even when I’m resting. I considered this enforced interval one of God’s good gifts to me.
Sitting on the sidelines while the dance swirls around us can be a good gift. We hear things the music often drowns out; we pay attention to thoughts that active rhythms often prohibit. We sleep; we dream. Bobbing in and out of sleep; taking Claritin, ibuprofen, the antiviral, and codeine; and dosing my skin with calamine, I heard this word: “Write. Write out into the culture.” And as if to verify this, articles began forming themselves in my mind, all slanted to a secular readership.
A friend, who has been out of work for nine months, called to commiserate with me that I had been laid low with shingles. I found myself saying, “Oh, please. I needed this rest. Maybe you should look at this period of your unemployment as a gift from God. Do in it the things you don’t ordinarily have enough time to do.”
The interludes in the dance that is our life—when the music changes, or the silence intrudes—can be life-altering. They can be inconvenient, embarrassing, annoying or painful, but after we’ve lived awhile, we begin to understand that they are never outside of God’s intents. Sometimes, we need to stop dancing.
Other projects involving Karen Mains right now:
Continuing to write for her new Christian blog, with topics relevant to Christian women and men in today’s contemporary world. Planning upcoming mentor-writing sessions. Preparing for the upcoming Silent Retreat (see the Hungry Souls Web site for details).
Making Sunday Special by Karen Mains
Author Karen Mains challenges readers to celebrate Sunday with a SABBATH HEART—to make the Lord’s Day so special that there are three days of anticipation … and so meaningful that it continues to nurture for three days afterward.
MAKING SUNDAY SPECIAL is brimful of creative celebrations that take the hassles out of the Day of Rest and restore “the rhythm of the sacred”—practical exercises that will help you fall in love anew with the rest day and with Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath.
Making Sunday Special is available for purchase through Sunday Solutions, the Webstore of Mainstay Ministries.