Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: Lord of the Dance
By Chelsea Pietsch
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Imagine a world, where every persons single passion is dancing. Here it is customary for pregnant women to dance long hours on their swollen legs, hoping to give their unborn child a talent to dance. In school, children memorise dances, instead of learning to read. Their mathematics comprise of counting dance steps, rhythms and scoring. Every single event is celebrated with dancing. Inevitably, dancing schools are scattered all over the planet, and just as predictiably, the more prestigious they are – the more expensive and difficult to gain entry.
Come with me now, into one of these schools. This particular school is not very sucessful. It has been a long time since it has turned out a noteworthy dancer. Only the poorer children, or those with little talent, are here.
The room is hot and stuffy. It is lit only by the sunlight streaming through the windows. Yet the sunlight just serves to highlight the dust, which is swirling sluggishly through the air. Even the dust is dancing. Along one wall stretches a mirror and at the end is a row of benches. Upon these benches the children are gathered. Today there is a feeling of excitement and hope that fills the room. As the children bind their bloody feet, they whisper amongst themselves and take particular care.
There is a rumour, that today, Jedris is coming to this very district to choose some pupils. They can scarcely give credit to such an unlikely possibility, yet they cannot quench the hope and excitement it produces. Jedris is the most famous (or infamous depending on your company) dancer in the world. No one has ever seen the likes of him before. He refuses to dance traditional dances, indeed, it seems he does not even dance in step with the music properly! Yet the beauty and purity of his dancing is uncontested. Watching him can provoke tears or laughter in even the coldest heart. It is whispered that where he dances, people are healed of all their infirmities, and flowers bloom out of season. In some more professional circles, people are furious that he fails to follow the traditions. They say, as he has never even gained a degree, he has no right to dance in public, let alone teach! But here, in the village of Haydill, he is a hero. The fact that one poor boy grew up, without proper training, to be the most beautiful dancer in the world, gives each person hope.
Soon the children begin to warm up and start dancing more carefully than ever before. Among them all, there is but one who is not excited. Even in this extroadinary circumstance, she has no hope. She knows very well that she is not talented. Again and again her teacher has despaired with her. Lilly only attends because she enjoys dancing despite being ‘clumsy and built wrong’. Besides, she has nothing better to do. Time passes and the children continue dancing. A sudden knock on the door makes them all turn expectantly. The door opens and a common young man enters the room. All the children peer around him, trying to see Jedris. They wait for the first man to announce Jedris’ coming in frantic silence. Lilly looks at the first man and is surprised to see him surveying the room. After a few more agonising moments he clears his throat, and says ever so casually, “Hi, I’m Jedris.” More silence meets these words, and the children meet each others eyes. The awkwardness is broken by the teacher rushing forward and making humble obeisance to him.
“Welcome Jedris, it is so very good of you to come.”
“Please maam, get up,” says he, “such bowing is unnecessary. I would prefer you to show your respect in the way you live your life, not how you act in my presence.” The teacher is embarrassed for a moment, and hesitates, as if not knowing what to do. She decides on standing, and does so. Jedris (if it is truly him, and not some imposter) nods at her, and walks past her to address the children. “As you have all heard it rumoured, I am here today to choose some pupils. I have chosen each one of you. If you will, accept my invitation to my school, and follow me.” Having spoken thus, he turns and begins to walk out the room. The children stand in disbelief. Is this strange, average looking man truly the famous Jedris? And if so, could he really mean such an offer? One child pipes up in desperation.
“Wait sir!” Jedris stops and turns to look at him who had spoken. “Please Sir,” continues the boy timidly, “wont you dance for us? Just one dance?” Jedris pauses a moment. He knows they are testing him, but his heart leads him to consent. He nods, and the teacher hurries to turn on some music.
“Is there a certain piece you would like Sir Jedris?”
“Any is fine”, he replies in a confident manner, yet without any arrogance that Lilly can detect. The music is chosen, and he begins to dance. Within seconds, it is clear to see that he is Jedris. His common appearance, the heat of the room and the swirling dust is forgotten. There is only the dance. Each person present begins either crying or laughing (and sometimes switching from one to the other). The teacher however, watches critically, and sees that he isn’t really in time with the typical rhythm. She wipes away her tears, and notices that he is so far from the tradition, that it is improper. Now she is glad she didn’t continue to bow to him.
The children have eyes only for Jedris. When the music stops, there is a collective sigh. “Follow me,” invites Jedris once more. This time when he walks away, most of the children follow him, including Lilly. Some children remain behind though, they are unsure if they want to live with someone who can produce such feelings in them. Besides, even if they did, they would at least need to pack and say goodbye to their families.
Jedris and his followers have not gone far, when Lilly pulls on his sleeve. “Excuse me sir,” says she, “but I have no talent, and cannot dance like you!” He looks down at her fondly, and she could not have felt more loved or accepted had she been the only child chosen.
“My dear child, I know that you can never dance like me,” said Jedris softly “but you can forever dance with me.”
You will be glad to hear that thousands flocked to Jedris’s school, and each person who came, was admitted. Each person who came, danced with Jedris. The school was nicknamed the ‘Kingdom of Joy’ for it was a magnificent place. Though the building had no virtue in itself, it was the dwelling place of kings and queens. Simply watching Jedris healed people of their infirmities and made flowers bloom out of season. But to dance with Jedris changed one’s entire life. And they all lived happily ever after.
It is a nice world isn’t it? A nice story? Im guessing you wouldn’t mind retreating to the ‘Kingdom of Joy’ yourself. What would you say if I told you it really exists? Though it is not about dancing, nor is Jedris the true name of the dancer. Still, you have been chosen. You have been invited. You cannot go there without an invitation, and you cannot be like him without Him. But you can forever dance with Jesus, and your entire life will be changed.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness"…Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” - Jeremiah 31:3 & 13
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