When I was a slender young thing in pink ballet tights and pastel leotards, my dance teacher taught me about balance. Holding the body with poise and presence is as much a discipline as flexibility, turnout, musicality and strength.
With a leg in arabesque – that is, high as possible, straight as possible in the air behind me – she would say, “Claire, imagine there are strings attached to your fingers on both hands, to the top of your head and to the big toe of the foot you have lifted. Those strings are pulling with equal force.”
Imagining the invisible forces at work, I would stretch my arms further, elongate my neck and straighten my head, push that leg a little higher and plant the heel of my supporting leg firmer into the floor. Then, with a calm that belied the screams of a thousand muscles, I would lower into a fondu or chasse, arms soft, face serene. Sigh. How I miss those dancing days!
I recognise this same tension in my life today. Invisible strings pull me in so many directions and sometimes one will yank harder than the rest causing me to turn my attention and nearly topple. The strings designed to gently set my thoughts, activities, responsibilities and loves at synchrony can be my undoing too.
There’s another balletic technique that cannot go unmentioned in the mastery of balance. Just as the top of the head, the tips of the fingers and the ends of the toes must pull towards invisible destinations, the eyes must be disciplined to a particular space. To hold balance as a young dancer, I learnt to find a focus point and not waver. My eyes were fixed to the mark on the wall or the Exit sign at the back of the theatre, drawing strength from the focus of the mind. And I turned pirouttes, leapt and dipped low into arabesques and other pretty French words!
Isn’t it the same with faith?
My world has been out of kilter. Writing it down brings such relief. There is joy in my heart as I write it, acknowledge it and feel God cupping my chin and lifting my eyes to him.
“Have no fear,” he said to me, “…for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” (Proverbs 3:26)
As soon as we take our eyes from the face of God, choosing to focus on the tension here or the slack there, the change in perspective sends us careering. We each have commitments, responsibilities, passions and dreams that tug us in different directions, but they need not topple us over. With our eyes fixed resolutely on our Heavenly Father who loves us and desires the very best for us, they can be the same things that make us bolder, stronger, wiser and kinder.
And so, my nostalgic dance-inspired goal this week is to keep my eyes on Him.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18