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Leaping into the New Year

The sheer spray rises from the crest of a powerful wave and curls around the backside, much as a surfer would do down the face; sliding along in an effortless motion then suddenly lifting, carving and peeling free. I watch this dance of the waves along the wild, most northwest corner of the island of Oahu. And it sets my heart in rhythm with the deep blue.

She has something to tell me. I listen.

This mirror image, this veil of droplets set free to rejoin the air from which they came reminds me of a dance. Not a dance I know or have seen, but one that came long before I ever knew or saw a thing.

It’s as though the spray was taking on a new life of its own; a beautiful, fluid whisper of what it was. I saw just a hint of my mother, my brother, all my loved ones who have left this world from a new perspective. Of course, that may have been influenced by the sign at the start of this stretch of protected beach that says:

This remote area has been known since ancient times as ‘leina a ka‘uhane’, the leaping place of souls, where the spirits of the recently dead could be reunited with their ancestors.

Now I’m not Hawaiian, but these poetic words brought me comfort. And joy.

It’s hard to bury someone you love in the cold, hard dirt. We don’t live underground. We don’t dream of spending eternity under ground. How much better, how much more comforting and joyful to see them off dancing on the back of a wave?

Every culture since the beginning of time has used dance to tell its sacred story.

And while dances can be complicated and limited to those who have training, it is also just as natural to a two-year old. It doesn’t have to be taught or explained by words. It can simply be created by any soul that let’s their body express the freedom inside. It is quite Biblical, too. One of the hero’s of the Bible, David – the king who was a “man after God’s own heart” - is often portrayed dancing and praising God hand in hand. In fact one of the words that is translated “dance” in the Old Testament is cheval. In his blog about the meaning of this word, Chaim Bentorah breaks down the three Hebrew letters that create the word and concludes that the priests who learned this hidden worship were “to allow the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in the cheval or dancing as a spontaneous act, no rehearsals, no choreography just dancing out of pure joy like a little child.”

For those who want to read the complete post and learn more about this Christian scholar's take on the Hebrew alphabet, click here. (His “about” page is fascinating)

So, this new year I want to encourage you to cheval. Perhaps twirl as you walk down the hallway, or leap as you enter the living room or just raise your hands in a joyous moment to say “I’m alive!” Let’s not wait until it’s too late to “slip the surly bonds” as the poet and pilot John Magee Jr. describes in “High Flight” -

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air... Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark or even eagle flew -- And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


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