I’m chuckling watching the tall, elder man in my Zumba class, who looks a bit like Frankenstein with his broad, square shoulders and large clunky feet, probably a size 14, intent on following the super-charged dance moves of our tiny, sprite, millennial teacher shakin’ her fit and firm booty, jazzing to the hip-hop beat.
I just think he’s fantastic, the towering, clunky man with large sneakers and a pot belly popping from his baggy powder blue tee-shirt, showing up each week in the jammed packed class of women of all shapes, ages and sizes in neon colored dance outfits. I love Zumba for it’s inclusivity, freedom from sexism and ageism, it’s international blend of music, and don’t worry if you can’t dance philosophy. Here, with a few simple dance moves and some pumped up music, we leave the world behind, out-of-step, in-step, it doesn’t matter. Some, like me, love Zumba because we love to dance. It’s a way we live out our childhood fantasy of being a professional dancer, pretending we’re Jay Lo’s back up dancers, the new Brittney Spears, or on Dancing with the Stars. For 2-3 hours a week we feel young and sexy, twirling our worries away. For those who hate to exercise, Zumba offers fun while losing weight.
I pray while I dance. In my prayer in motion, prancing, two-stepping, and hip-shaking, I think of Jesus telling us those bold and matter-of-fact things he was so good at teaching with metaphors — those age-old scriptures we still can’t quite grasp so well, even when they offer the best medicine around. Those sacred morsels he gave so freely, like these words of wisdom about worrying and fretting: Don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
When I imagine Jesus saying these fine words, I suddenly feel like a bird soaring high above the earth, refreshing breezes blowing gentle winds through my soft fluffy feathers, my worries tossed to the Zumba class wind.
I think more about Jesus’ words, how he tells us the birds, they neither reap nor sow, and how our heavenly God feeds them, and how we’re worth so much more than birds anyway.
Finally, I get it, deep in the cells of my pirouetting body, I get the essence of what Jesus is saying — don’t worry, be happy!
I think about the obscure book of Ecclesiastes, where the author, some think is the wise King Solomon, cries out, “meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!” I think of all the worries we carry like bags of dirty laundry through our years, the toil, financial angst, all the lonely days, and oppression, and even the dream-making, the book publishing, the riches and pleasures and wisdom — all the author says are meaningless.
The what’s the purpose of life Ecclesiastes author then tells us, when times are good, be happy. Go feast your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart. It really comes down to one thing, he says, to love God and keep the commandments.
So here it is again, a dancing lesson on the real purpose of life. Why worry? Be happy. All we need to remember is to seek God with all our hearts, and to dance. Dance like the man who shows up at Zumba class each week enjoying your days under the sun.
After all, Jesus, tells us, the rest is handled.
Will you join me in a worry free week, and enjoying some fun?
Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his span of life? – Jesus