I have been reading Anne Lamott's little book, Stitches. I love the things she says, and the way she says them. But what I perhaps love most when I read her work is what she doesn't come right out and say, but leads me to think of on my own.
Anne (and, since I read pretty much all she writes, I feel I am on a first name basis with her) is talking in this little book about how we 'patch together' the hurts and wounds in our lives and the lives of those around us; like a quilter using re-purposed fabrics and stitches, sometimes loose and sometimes tight. A lovely analogy, especially for a fiber lover like myself.
But the question arises, "Why do we so often need to patch our lives back together?" Why doesn't God keep the things from happening that tear and burn and stain the fabric of our lives? It's not that He can't do it. If I believe in God at all (and I do,) I believe in His power to do the impossible. So why does He leave so much in our incompetent hands?
Anne leads me to believe that the answer to that hard question is this: He leaves it in our hands and allows these painful events to occur for our own sake. He has created us to be, or to become, loving and compassionate. As He is. And how could we do that or become that if the need never arose for us to exercise our Love and Compassion muscles? Look at how people respond to disasters: they give and love and react with the best of themselves, and they draw closer together in the giving. Maybe the more pain and distress we go through and that we are called to respond to, the more God is telling us that we need to have more 'practice' at becoming the people He wants us to be. Especially in these times, when many of our 'closest' friends are online, and are, in reality, people we would not recognize if they were sharing an armrest with us in the theater. God wants to bring us together. He wants us to be truly responsive to those He puts in our lives.
So.... what is the 'strange convergence' I refer to in the post title?
I have been obsessing for over a week on the Bruce Springsteen song, "Dancing in the Dark." It plays in my dreams; I am trying to learn an acoustic version of it on my guitar; I have listened to I-don't-know-how-many artists sing and play their versions of it. I have been loving the song, though I have not really thought about why it cropped up on my musical horizon at this time, or what the song actually means. That is, I had not considered those things until I was mopping the kitchen floor this morning, thinking of Anne Lamott's words and where they led my own thoughts.
Right in the middle of the floor, right in the middle of a 'deep thought,' Bruce burst loudly in my brain: "You can't start a fire worryin' about your little world falling apart... This gun's for hire, even if we're just dancing in the dark."
Oh, my dear Lord! You are telling me what this song is about! All through the song, the singer frets about 'being bored with myself,' about wanting to 'change my hair, my clothes, my face,' about everything being predictable and tiring. But then, "This gun's for hire..." (or maybe, 'I'm here if you need me"), "even if we're just dancing in the dark..." ('Even if you just need me to hold you through the dark times of your life.') Even if you just need me to exercise my love and compassion on your life, to stitch you back together, to help mend a tear or patch a hole in your heart.
Is that a stretch? Maybe. But it gives new meaning to the song as I play and sing it - possibly a meaning Sprinsteen never intended, but who knows? It fits so well for me right now.
I am pretty good at stitching and patching and weaving things together, but I may not always make myself as available as I should to those who might just need to be held tightly together through the hard times - to dance a bit in the dark. And I am not very good about asking others to dance with me when I might need it either.
Do you need to dance? Don't be afraid to seek out a partner - a friend who might just need a bit of love and compassion practice. That is what God has put us here to do... to dance together in both the light times of joy, and in the dark times, when the dancing might just hold someone up.
And by the way ("Hey, Baby!") I do occasionally need a dance partner, as well.