The Dancer

[For Nat, 3 years old]

Morning for me is all about weight. I rise and balance myself on the precipitous edge of the bed, teetering there and staring down into the day, feeling the flesh take hold. Gravity sucking on my bones. Bureaucratic little mind voice already listing off the things that I will not get done today because I can’t. I sit there paralysed by the heaviness.

Except on those days when I am preempted. He comes in promptly at 7am when his clock switches its face from blue with moon and stars to yellow with smiling sun. Wake-Up Time. Never mind that he has clearly been awake watching the thing, waiting.

“It’s wake up time, Dad!”

“Brruhph, Really? Is it dark outside? Is there a moon?”

[checking]

“No, it’s Wake Up Time!”

“Ok… Give me a little while…”

Bouncing on the bed… Bouncing.

“Want to play table tennis with me, my Daddy?”

Um, no… not really… but damn I love that possessive pronoun. I reckon I could go a rumble. I ask:

“Rumble?”

“No, don’t rumble me!” [squeals]

I’ll take that as a yes…

I’ve been so many different shapes of heavy in these last anxious years.  Heavy in my relationships, carrying weight with others and for others; heavy with intentions; at times unspeakably and unjustifiably heavy hearted. But I live with a little dancer. When we walk, every few steps involve a skip, a twirl, arms raised. Sort of a Russian tartar kind of a dance. While I perch on the edge of the bed, he does laps of the hallway. Why would you walk somewhere when you can run? And why would you run somewhere? Why not just run around?

This is the thing that reaches me in my heaviness. The joyful aimlessness of his exuberance. The older we become, the more we engage with the world around us through the prism of our purposes. Prisoners of our intentions, our brains filtering out the kaleidoscope of sensation that pours in from the shining manifold of creation, distilling its complex polyphony down, down, until all we taste of the world is its fittingness for our consumption. And more and more it tastes like failure.

Until you get interrupted by a midget instantiation of grace who can’t walk in a straight line; who thinks that locomotion anywhere is better when punctuated by jumping into the air, maybe on one foot. Who receives the kingdom of creation as a gift and as a right. Like a child. Who asks ‘why’ constantly. For the simple pleasure of provoking his Father to conversation.

Why does the Kingdom of Heaven belong to such as these? When Jesus went down on one knee, lowered his head to be at their height, and laid his hands on them, what was being communicated in this secret moment between the children and their Lord? This knowledge that they had of him and he of them, that all us old heavy things are left panting on the outside, wondering about?

“I have to go to work now”
“But do you want to play with me?”
“Well, yes, but I have to go to work”
“But do you want to play Lego with me?”
“I really do, especially the bit about Lego, that’s extremely tempting, but I have to go.”
“But why?”

I dun’know. It’s complicated. Adam sinned; we live in an urban, technologically advanced society where economic production tends to take place outside the home; Karl Marx; alienation; other people need me; I’m trying to live as a witness to the future that God has announced in the resurrection of Jesus; to buy food, clothing, shelter for you and your mum; because its just what we do and I’m going to look like a turkey if I have to stand up to preach on Sunday and I haven’t got anything prepared; the Triune nature of God is reflected in our being toward others even in an economic relation of mutual benefit through efficient market-driven distribution of resources. It’s a bit of all of that, among other things.

“Do you want to play train tracks with me my daddy?”
“Yeah, ok. For a little while.”

Jesus said that his kingdom is for people like you, little man. Little people who see the world paradoxically as both gift and right, but not as project; who leap about wildly with the joy and wonder of living experimentally. There will be lots of days still to come that will begin and end with heaviness of heart, the world is just broken that way, so are hearts. But not all the days, and not the last of them. I know that grace will keep waking us up, interrupting our apostolic presumptions, unexpectedly and inefficiently raising things from the dead. Bouncing on the bed. Can I play in your kingdom?

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