Essence is the School of Worship and Mission run by Movement in Worship.
It was an amazing week, but I also found it a really challenging week .
On the Wednesday we took what we’d learnt out to the streets, we danced our intercessions at Edinburgh Castle and on the Royal Mile. I got really wound up about changes to what we planned to do. I felt really frustrated with our leaders, even though I knew rationally they were praying and following where they felt God leading and had the best of intentions. Reflecting on my mess of negative feelings, I wonder if actually it was a case of projecting onto them the baggage of poor Christian leadership in my last two churches. Projecting onto them the hurt and disappointment, the feeling of being let down, of being invisible, taken for granted…
Later in the week I really struggled with my feelings about my own dancing. I felt my dancing was rubbish. 10 years ago I did a dance apprenticeship with Springs Dance Company. I did the short course rather than the whole year. It was a really difficult 3 months. Everyone else had danced since they were tiny. I had done some contemporary but had never done ballet, and jazz dance was totally unnatural for my body. I struggled with learning the repertoire. The only module I excelled at was the half a term module on improvisation in worship. Despite being a Christian dance company it had the same feel of the professional dance world (I’m sure it’s the same for professional musician and artists too), the sense of comparison and a feeling of put downs. I know my contemporary dance teacher thinks I’m a beautiful dancer…but she’s one whose passion is to encourage all to dance as they are able. The sense of being a rubbish dancer reappeared during Summer School. I’ve seen enough professional dance to be able to look around and see the amazing dancer and the not very good ones. I was blinded by poor technique and missed the intercessions, prophecies and worship my fellow participants were creating. But God in his great love was so kind…over the course of the Next Wave – 72 hour worship event, I met many people from the local church and members of the Movement in Worship Collective from other parts of Scotland. Time and time again they said I was a beautiful dancer. It’s hard to believe…but at least it gives me hope…and over time will believe it. My prayer is that my technique won’t distract from Who my dance is pointing to and what it is endeavouring to communicate.
In the early hours of the Saturday morning, I was in the room where the Next Wave – 72 hour worship event was going on. I’d signed up to dance in the 11pm Friday to 1am Saturday slot. I eventually headed off to bed at 4am, having had a really significant encounter with God. I was watching as 3 other people danced, they all ended facedown on the floor…I sensed the need join them and lie facedown too. As I did I thought back over the past 10 year, in so many ways such awful and difficult years. I felt like dancing all week had removed all my layers, now the rubbish of those years was closer to the surface than before. After a bit I started to walk through those years with God, first thinking step by step through them, then moving to reflect those years, incarnating it, starting at 2006. I only got to 2008 before I was on my knees the tears pouring. When I experience God I often feel nothing, I don’t shake or fall to the ground, I might have a single tear trickle down my face. On that night the tears fell and fell…tears and snot!! I discovered that in that situation the kindest thing someone can do is hand you a tissue, and gently lay their hand on your back and bless what God is doing in you. Once the tears started to stop, I discovered that I had not just 1 but 2 people there supporting me, one of our teachers, and a man from the church who were hosting us. He told me God told him to come over, but he didn’t know why, especially as God then didn’t give him a prophetic picture to share with me…yet it was so precious to me, it meant that I wasn’t invisible, I was cared for, and there was something really powerful about a man standing with me in my pain. The next day I was almost scared to go and worship God, I didn’t want to be undone and vulnerable again. Meeting God that night was hard, but feels so significant and life changing too.
This post is the bad and the ugly of summer school…and although the feelings seem bad, God bringing them up the surface, is the beginning of healing. During summer school I applied to do the discipleship training course with Movement in Worship this year and I have now been accepted. I have a sense that it will be a season of healing and tears, as dance isn’t a mask to hide behind, but removes the layers to the vulnerable painful parts of our lives, so that God can bring healing and transformation.