Last week I discovered a book called: ‘And Never Stop Dancing.’ A former US Army Medical Doctor, who is now a practicing psychiatrist, wrote it. The opening page had the following quote:
After a bomb killed two-dozen young people at a Tel Aviv disco a few years ago, Israeli youth refused to be cowed. They resumed a robust nightlife. Today, outside the scene of the bombing beneath a stone memorial listing the names of the dead, is a single inscription:
LO NAFSEEK LIRKOD. It means, “ We won’t stop dancing.”
– Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post Magazine
I find this quote very powerful, for it suggests that despite the attempts of others to produce fear and uncertainty, these young people will continue to live the life they choose. They will not stop dancing. They are taking responsibility for how they wish to live, instead of being dictated and controlled by the actions of others.
During the living of our days, uncertainty will always be present in its various guises, but it need not be the determining factor of our lives. Each of our lives is lived within fields of certainty and uncertainty. This is the reality of living today; there is no escaping this reality.
During our travels along the journey of life, we are constantly being surprised; sometimes pleasant surprises arrive at the doorway of our heart, while at other times they are unpleasant. We don’t need any words to tell us how to enjoy and delight in the pleasant surprises. It just happens, smiles and delight, laughter and joy combine to produce an endorphin experience. When the unpleasant moments arrive, they require a different way of being, a different way of responding. I came across the following story this week:
In 2003 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra were playing a concert in Baltimore, US. They were playing the Brahms Violin Concerto, when suddenly the lights went out. The concert hall was plunged into total darkness. Some concertgoers thought it was a terrorist attack. It seemed eons before the dim emergency lights came on, however in reality, it was only a few seconds. What was amazing was the orchestra kept playing. Sitting in the dark, unable to see the conductor or their scores, the musicians played on, flawlessly. No one in the audience made a sound, though the ovation at the end was particularly heartfelt.
Those musicians kept on playing, they were able to play their part, because of an inner way of knowing, the music was internalised within; they knew the musical score, even if the lights were on or off.
This is a really beautiful story, which may help us on the journey of life and faith here at St Aidans. You will be aware we are currently having our building checked by engineers for its Earthquake Standard; without doubt this is a time of uncertainty for the outcome is totally unknown.
We may say that on our faith journey here at St Aidans, we are like those musicians, having entered a period of sudden darkness, which is outside our sphere of control. How we choose to respond during this period of uncertainty is crucial. We can of course stop playing our music until we see the notes, or, we can keep playing the music from what we have within us. A story I have offered you before, seems appropriate on this musical theme:
The Israeli violinist Yitzhak Perlman contracted polio at the age of four. Ever since, he has had to wear metal braces on his legs and walk with crutches, yet he became one of the great virtuosi of our time. On one occasion, the story is told; he came out onto the stage at a concert to play a violin concerto. Laying down his crutches, he placed his violin under his chin and began tuning the instrument when with an audible crack one of the strings broke.
The audience were expecting him to send for another string, but instead he signalled the conductor to begin, and he proceeded to play the concerto entirely on three strings. At the end of the performance the audience gave him a standing ovation and called on him to speak.
What he said, so the story goes, was this ‘Our task is to make music with what remains.’
That was a comment on more than a broken violin string. It was a comment on his paralysis and on all that is broken in life. Yes, there is uncertainty, yes the way ahead may seem dark, but we still make music with what remains, in darkness and in light. This is a faith that enables us to say no matter what happens, we won’t stop dancing…….
Meanwhile peace to keep on dancing