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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)

TITLE: I Dance
By Sherry Wendling


Our voices hush. Tattered wisps of human sound trail into the rafters. The last worship chorus is ended. Time for announcements.

But Mark is oblivious. His slender hands are still galloping over the keys like twin foals in a pasture of buttercups. His eyes lock on Tracy, glowing at him from the first row. Five-year-old Derek nestles in the circle of her arm, creasing paper airplanes on her Bible.

The grand piano croons on.

Brows lift. A ruffling of songsheets ripples from the platform as band members trade uncertain glances. Pastor Hearn perches erect on his carved chair, tugging at his clerical collar with an index finger. Deacon Baines reaches under a lapel and mops his bald spot with an immaculate, folded handkerchief. Why doesnít Mark stop?

A smile tickles my lips. I know why Markís euphoric soul is frothing all over the ivories. Tracyís miracle.

No more living death, her bones a macabre lunch for mutating cells. The tests are confounding medical specialists across the Northeast. Not a trace of cancer. The wondrous news has kept our congregation breathless for nearly a month. Members of the ladiesí prayer chain coo over her bare head, freshly sprouted with auburn ringlets.

HmmÖSomethingís happening. Mark has abandoned his sheet music. His right hand flings unheard melodies into the universe like newborn stars, while his left rides a torrent of harmony, setting the stained glass aquiver.

No one moves.

Father, heís formally trained. A sight reader. He doesnít know how to play like this.

But Joy does.

Angelic exuberance cascades from the piano, drenching the platform in a tsunami of abandon. The drummer kicks in. Now the bass guitarist. Thereís my Kurt, thrumming the bongos, his peach-fuzzed countenance a study in perfect bliss.


Lord? That sort of thing isnít done here. And Iíve never learned to dance. I donít know how.

But Joy knows.

My toes curl under the pew, trying to contain the blood pounding in my calves.

The joy of the Lord is your strength.

Wonder explodes from my core, pulverizing doubts into space dust. My shoes slide off with a faint thud.

Yes, Lord JesusÖI will love You. With all my strength.

My body rises, drawn aloft by an invisible hand. My stockinged heels dip over the wooden gunwale of an ancient fishing boat, touching, not the storm-wracked Galilee, but a carpet of red plush.

I dance.

I float past Mrs. Ivorsen in her daisy flop-hat, her face frozen in a pinched smile. I wink at tiny, tow-headed Lindy Alden, afluff in pink and patent leather. Dance with me? Her rosy lips pout as she slides under the seat.

The joy of the Lord is your strength.

My hands arc from heaven to earth, fingers splayed, air-painting glories of the kingdom to come. Can these unfaltering feet be mine? My primitive choreography spins shimmering threads of adoration, stitching a royal praise-cloak, vibrant with jewel-tones.

Tendrils of hair cling to my forehead. Fatherís breath fans me. The music thunders on, and so must I.

Thereís cousin Beth. Come, Beth. Come dance. Donít you feel Him? She sucks a breath and turns away, eyelids squeezed tight. Not today.

I twirl, my peasant skirt fanning out in delirious celebration. A movement stirs the rear pew. Four hands edge skyward. I am not alone.

My alabaster soul-casket shatters, its shards ripping wide the veil to my Holy of holies. Incense of costly perfume infiltrates my billowing spirit. No one, nothing matters but Him.

I dance on the serpentís head.
I dance on his shifting, weedy illusions.
I dance on his lemon-puckered, prune-faced pride.
I dance on his skulking, slithering minions: Self-pity, Self-reliance, Self-love.
I dance on his monstrous, slavering blood-lust.
I dance on his roaring, icy-toothed terrors.
I dance upon Death.

The joy of the Lord is your strength.

His joy. My feet, ablaze with trust.

I danceÖ


On Monday morning the phone chirps. Itís Pastor Hearn. You people with your Holy Ghost shenanigansÖDonít you dare presume to take over this church. And donít encourage others, either. Iíve seen churches split over this kind of thing. DonítÖDonítÖDonít you dare.

In silence I return the receiver to its cradle and press a palm hard against my left breast, willing the tingling spasm of pain to stop. Pastor Hearn doesnít know what my doctor knows.

My Lord is waiting in the kitchen. He smiles. He chuckles. He guffaws.

I reach for His outstretched hand.

We dance.

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This article has been read 1718 times
Member Comments
Member Date
terri tiffany05/25/06
Wow! This was wonderful! I was swirled away with her! Your words touched me and so beautifully described the growing scene!! masterful!It was like looking at a painting so colorful were your phrases. Thank you!
Kate Wells05/26/06
You masterfully captured the essence of true worship! I so loved this that I am at a loss for words. It took my breath away. I felt the Holy Spirit beckoning me through your words, to once again worship in abandonment and freedom. Awesome piece!
david grant05/26/06
No fair! This writing would win in the Masters category! Simply one of the best I've ever read here.

Thanks for the joyious read.

Jessica Schmit05/26/06
Um...wow...I don't know what to say. This is one of the best pieces I've ever read on this site-EVER. You've got a winner here. I kept repeating to myself, "wow, incredible..you've got to be kidding." You captured my attention, my creativity, my interest everything until the last word. This is a masterpiece. This is going to ROCK the judges. Incredible. Incredible. INCREDIBLE!!!!
Leslie Lamb05/26/06
I think it has all been said, but this is INSPIRED! Oh! You made me want to dance with my Father, kick up my heels without abandon and dance naked!!! (Well, I guess I shouldn't say that out loud...)
Sharlyn Guthrie05/26/06
This is music for the heart. Lovely!
Stefanie Noonan05/27/06
BEAUTIFUL! The most beautiful inspiring piece I've ever read on F.W. Thank you so much for being a vessel of inspiration. I'm sending this to friends in Alaska.
Stefanie Noonan05/27/06

Stefanie Noonan05/27/06
BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for the most beautiful piece I've read so far an F.W. Thank you for being a willing vessel of inspiration. I'm forwarding this article to friends in Alaska.
Crista Darr05/27/06
I am completely blown away by this piece. I love it. "My alabaster soul-casket shatters, its shards ripping wide the veil to my Holy of holies." What an inspiration! This is so rich. Amazing work.
Rita Garcia05/28/06
Sweet inspiration to the soul. I must agree with the others, it doesn't get any better than this. Words from an anointed hand.
Patricia Trimarchi05/28/06
Absolutely Wonderful...We need to think & write outside of that box (or boat)...Encouraging others to step fully into their freedom and that is exactly what you have done for me!Bless you and dance on!!!!Pat
Helen Paynter05/28/06
Oh I love this - I love it. I love it. I love it. One of my all-time favourites. Did I mention that I love it?
Rachel Rudd 05/30/06
I started to read the other comments on this, but I decided to tell you what I felt first. I LOVE THIS! I wanted to jump up and dance! Your words weaved the picture that I feel when I dance before the Lord. Since the church where I attend now doesn't normally do that, I LONG to dance. Your story is just awesome. I loved the line about the coat of praise being weaved for the Lord. This is awesome! So well-written. I hope you win first place!
darlene hight05/31/06
Wow! Beautiful! Brilliant!
Jessica Schmit06/01/06
Congrats and welcome to Masters!
Rachel Rudd 06/01/06
Congratulations, Sherry! I am SO happy that you won! This piece deserves to be published and shown to every church in the world!
Pat Guy 06/01/06
Breathless. Congratulations.
Suzanne R06/01/06
Your choice of words is like the music in your piece - just amazing! Congratulations on your well-deserved win. This is just fantastic!
Daniele Moskal06/01/06
CONGRATULATIONS - to you Sherry!!! A brilliant piece of short story writing. Very well done. God bless ya!
Love from Daniele xxx
Sharlyn Guthrie06/01/06
Congratulations on your win! It is well deserved.
Beth Muehlhausen06/01/06
Truly breathtaking! The childlikeness coupled with incredible imagery is breathtaking! Who doesn't want to be there? Do that? REALLY? This spells FREEDOM, loud and clear, to all who have ears to hear. Please accept my heartfelt thanks and congratulations. :-)
Shari Armstrong 06/01/06
This is wonderful! A shame people have to try to dampen the Spirit!
Edy T Johnson 06/01/06
Sherry, you're tops! I'm so happy to see your name in first place, here. Congratulations, friend!
Helen Paynter06/01/06
Many congratulations - I'm delighted that this piece got the win it deserved.
Linda Watson Owen06/02/06
Oh, Sherry, you absolutely 'danced' your reader right into the presence of the Lord Himself! Congratulations on this well deserved win...thank you for sharing the beautiful power of your lyrical pen!
Joyce Poet06/03/06
My dear Sister, I do so agree with the comments that I scanned over... but I must tell you that I personally had a hard time reading them while I wept. Few things do I read that leave me weeping so, and even fewer things come anywhere close to touching that longing... that silence which cries out so loudly from my heart.
Venice Kichura06/03/06
Wow! This is awesome writing! You certainly deserve your win!
Carol Shaffron06/06/06
Imagine the transformation in our world would everyone be as lost in the love of the Lord not only in "church", but also in our homes, streets, local city parks . . .
How dare that minister reminds me of Michal, King David's wife who ended up barren. That makes me shudder.
Carla Feagans06/08/06
Oh Sherry. WOW. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, wonderful, glorious writing. It was perfectly written. I can't stop crying. This is amazing. I'm so glad you won first place. Every phrase, every description, every utterance is simply perfect. God has blessed you so much with this one, and you have blessed us so much by letting Him use you to write this. Awesome.
Jan Ross06/10/06
I can't stop picturing the scenario, feeling the thrill of her exuberance as she rejoices before the God of all Creation! I've read this about five times now and am still moved each time by this perfection of praise so beautifully framed with words. Congratulations! I can't say I've read anything as powerful as this piece! You're gift is "Master"ful!
Joy Mounce01/11/07
Wow! I just ready your piece and it is still effective today as it was when you posted it. Anointed writing for sure! May we all be that obedient with abandon in worshipping our worthy Lord. I may just have to dance myself!! (byw, my name is Joy too)
Kay Ramos03/07/08
This is such an inspiring piece! I don't think I have any words that other people didn't already use to describe this. If everyone could praise the Lord like this, we would be a happier people. This was definitely captivating to say the least. Thank you so much for sharing this piece!