Originally Written for 2/15/09
Friday night I spent the evening in the most miserable of all places – the middle school valentine’s dance. Yes, it’s true… Somehow, even though I’ve been working in middle schools for 6 years now I have always been able to avoid the Devil’s lair, but not this year…
I was, however, very excited to see one particular student there. I’ll call him JT for the purposes of this devotional. JT is a lower-functioning mentally handicapped student (in edu-speak we’d call him an EC student with the EMD lable). JT is the happiest person I’ve ever met – including my own child – but he is a little awkward at times. For the first four months of the school year he would address me as “Mr. President” while every time he saw the Principal he’d say to her “Happy Halloween!” (I told her that must describe what he thinks she looks like J) The only disappointment I have in seeming him now I that he’s learned my name – I actually liked the title of “Mr. President”…
Anyway, I digress.. Last night JT came to the dance with his case manager and he had an absolute blast; he was affectionately referred to as the “pogo stick” by some because he never stopped jumping up and down to the beat of the music.
About half-way through the dance they played the song Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood, so all the middle school students scrambled to get snacks, save the brave few who found a partner to slow-dance with. (why they inserted a country song into a three-hour set of mainly hip-hop and modern dance music is beyond me, but it was about the time the drinks and cookies came out…) As I was doing the rounds around the cafeteria/dance floor “inspecting the distance between the dancers” I noticed JT was dancing with one of the sixth grade teachers. His face had the biggest smile I had ever seen, and the teacher just kept giggling and laughing as he tried to sway and twirl her – to be honest, I had to go and get my school resource officer (SRO in edu-speak) to witness this; as we stood there I almost started to cry (literally). Here was a boy who has significant issues to overcome, yet something as simple as a female teacher taking the time to dance with him made his night (and mine). Both my SRO and I said, “This one moment makes the whole dance worth it.”
Which got me thinking… Eugene Peterson compares the doctrine of the Trinity to a dance within the God-head between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, because of the joy within the dance, God wanted to share it, so he created humans and invited us to dance with him. Too bad we sinned and broke the connection.
So what did God do? He sent his Son to die so that we could join the dance again, only this time it can’t be taken away.
As I think back to JT and that teacher drawing him into the dance, I see the Trinity coming to dance with me – only I’m the awkward EMD one who gets pulled along. And that brings another tear of joy to my eye.
Maybe the dance wasn’t such a terrible experience afterall.