T.S. Tuesday: A Discussion on Whimsy and Dance

“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.” T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

There is only the dance.

Today I awoke seeking meaning, seeking purpose, seeking the scheduled. I wrote a list a of 23 things I wanted do to feel more “on top of” my life, my job, my tick tick ticking time in Antigua.

I awoke frenzied for the familiar. For a routine. For certainty that I’m spending my time wisely.

And it’s only been two days.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it here. I think this way when I’m back in the States, too.

That’s the problem.

I’ve been reading through Bob Goff’s new book, Love Does, with a dear friend. Love Does takes schedules and predictability and throws them to the wind. Bob writes of a life “drenched with the whimsy of God’s love and the spontaneity of following where he leads when he says “Go!” 

Whimsy. Now there’s a word that doesn’t sit well with me. Intentionality, yes. Flexibility, yes. Even scheduled spontaneity I can handle. 
I didn’t know how much of a problem I have with whimsy until reading this book. Every other line I read I find myself involuntarily exclaiming, “Yeah right“or “That’s not possible” or “what about normal people?”

I bristle. I squirm. 
But it’s good for me. To be reminded that God’s love is bigger than my plans. For Bob Goff, whimsy and disorder and spontaneity aren’t ends in themselves, but the means to a life of radical trust, engagement, and freedom. When I let go of my desire to control, to manipulate, and to regulate, I am free to lay my feet, my palms, my plans at the feet of Jesus. 
Bob Goff writes:

“I think God is more of a Half Dome traveler than a Hampton Inn Traveler. Jesus doesn’t invite us on a business trip. Instead, He says let’s go after those things that inspire and challenge you and let’s experience them together. You don’t need a lot of details or luggage or equipment, just a willingness to go into a storm with a Father who’s kicking footholds in the the steep sides of our problems while we kick a couple in ourselves too… 

Somehow in all of this, the terrain we navigate doesn’t seem as scary either, because when we’re on an adventure with God we’re too excited to be afraid and too engaged to be thinking of anything else.”

When we’re on an adventure with God we’re to excited to be thinking about schedules or task lists. We’re too engaged to question how we spend our time.

In Guatemala they don’t use the term “spend time” with someone, they say you “share time” with someone. Share time. Share life. Share a meal. Share a story. 

“Compartemos tiempo,” my friends here tell me. We share time. 
That morphs the framework. What if instead of asking myself if I’m spending my time wisely, I asked myself if I’m sharing my time wisely, joyfully, fully? 
Why spend my time when I can share it? With friends, with strangers, with family, with God? 
I’ve thought of my time in Guatemala as being an exercise in spontaneity, uncertainty. An effort. An act of will to unplan my life. Something forced. Something controlled. 
But that’s not what I want. I want to be on an adventure. I want purpose and engagement and, gasp, even whimsy. 
I don’t quite know how daily life will look here (and believe me enough people asked me last week in San Diego that I think I rightfully find this uncertainty a bit nerve wracking). I don’t know how many hours will be devoted to my new job, how many new friends I’ll find to go salsa dancing with, or whether or not I’ll take more language classes, but I do know Who I want to share my life with, and that is God. The author of purpose and whimsy and adventure. 
The One who leads us to adventures where “we’re too excited to be afraid and too engaged to be thinking of anything else.”

T.S. Eliot writes, “Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is.”

His dance isn’t characterized by movement–spastic flailings or graceful twirls–but by being. The dance just is. The dance exists in the place where God is. The dance is God. And there, at that still point, is where I want to share my time. 
God has led me this far–to the cobblestone streets and volcano crested-town that called to me from a place deep within my dreams. God has led me this far, and I am sure as shootin’ going to find some dancing*. 
How are you sharing your time?
*Both literally–salsa, merengue, bachata–and figuratively.
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4 thoughts on “T.S. Tuesday: A Discussion on Whimsy and Dance

  1. Margaret says:

    Scheduled spontaneity? You are hilarious, Aly. I like the way you play with language too.

  2. Margaret says:

    I like the idea of being on an adventure with God, but I also like schedules, calendards, to-do lists, tracking my progress, etc. Personally, I think we can have both. I think we can be organized, scheduled planners who go on adventures with the Lord. I guess the challenge is to not grip our own plans too tightly.Sharing time does sound so much sweeter than spending time too. One way I shared my time recently was by making some cards to send to my family members that live in other places. I also shared time with friends last night.

  3. Aly Lewis says:

    Yes, I schedule time to be spontaneous. I never know exactly what I will do during that allotted time slot until I do it. Am I missing the point?

  4. Aly Lewis says:

    Hi Margaret,I agree the problem isn't with the lists and schedules and planning but when, like you said, I "grip my own plans too tightly." I love your cards! That's an awesome way to share time and your talents with people! Thanks for sharing about your sharing.

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