Every year on Epiphany, our congregation is invited to take a star out of a basket as it is passed around. Each star has a different word and people are invited to keep that word with them throughout the year, seeing if they can incorporate it into their conversation with God. Is there something God may be speaking to them with that word?
My STAR word this year was “adventure”. Which would be great, and all, if I were the least bit adventurous.
But I’m not. I’m much happier at home in my pajamas than I am jumping out of airplanes or bungee jumping off bridges. I was happy to hold down the fort this summer while my husband hiked 100 miles around Mt Rainier on the Wonderland trail. Will leave the extreme adventures to him, and then will enjoy the photos.
That said, I’ve tried to push myself to be more adventurous over the years. Because I’ve learned that much of the fun of life seems to happen well outside my comfort zone.
In any case, being the cowardly chicken that I am, I determined that God wasn’t calling me to jump out of an airplane with my STAR word. Too much adventure stresses Marci out.
I took adventure on a much more personal, and for me, more challenging level. I took a belly dancing class.
That was six months ago.
And it was definitely an adventure. It took all the courage I possessed to stand in front of a mirror for an hour in public and learn to shimmy.
But it was fun. So much fun. So I made it through the first 3 month session and signed up for 2 classes the next session. (If you live in Boise, and want to check out a class, here’s the Starbelly website.)
It has been adventure, not in the sense that I have floated an unexplored corner of the Amazon or something, but that I have discovered some unexplored territory in my own self.
Last week was the ‘student salon’ the studio hosts at the end of each 3 month session. The students from all the different classes dance while their loved ones and friends cheer them on. Participating in the recital is encouraged but is not a mandatory part of being in the class.
I confess the thought of belly dancing in public, even to a relatively small gathering of supportive people, was horrifying.
But I ordered the costume last month. And I learned the routine. But I still wasn’t sure I would go through with it. I knew that was where adventure lay, but still.
Turns out a big part of my hesitation was actually less about me and more about not wanting to let down my classmates. I missed a fair amount of class with a busy summer of travel, and so there were moves and choreography that I just didn’t know. And I didn’t want to get on stage and muck it up for my fellow dancers.
Disappointing myself is one thing. Ruining a performance is another thing altogether. My fellow dancers, however, were uniformly supportive of me and encouraged me to dance last night. And so I practiced. And practiced. And practiced.
My poor children had to see me practice when they wandered past the living room after I had moved the furniture out of the way to make my own studio.
Turns out that adventure requires hard work. Who knew?
I went through with it. I danced in public.
And I survived.
It was fun, even. Well, after the horror abated, it was fun.
I could get up in front of huge crowds and speak and it is, literally, just another day at the office. But this. This was something else.
A number of wonderful people from church said, “why didn’t you tell us you were performing? We would have come!”
And I said, “yes. I know. That’s why I didn’t tell you.” I wasn’t quite ready for that kind of audience then.
But I will tell them the next time.
New classes start next week. And the adventure will continue. I hope my belly dance skills improve along the way. But really the adventure appears to be in just discovering things about myself I’d yet to notice.