Yesterday’s assigned Hebrew lesson described David as “dancing before the Lord with all his might.” I’m not sure why, but every time I read that the Abba’s “Dancing Queen” plays in my mind. David is a dancing king who got so caught up in the ecstasy of his worship that he literally danced right out of his clothes.
This is an amazing image. We have someone who has power, prestige, position, and wealth expressing their faith without inhibition or fear. Now, you might think, “Well, he’s the king. He doesn’t have to worry what other people think.” While that is true, it seems to be irrelevant to human nature. Although it may not seem logical, it does seem that the more we have and the higher we rise, the more we obsess about what others think of us.
We recently passed a person who was wearing mismatched, almost garish, clothing. Someone referred to them as a “street person.” The only evidence of that was how they were dressed. Their clothes weren’t tattered or dirty or old; they simply were not what the average person would wear. So the assumption was that this person was at the margins of society and didn’t “need” to worry about what other people thought, or that they didn’t have as many choices as other people might have.
You are probably familiar with Jenny Joseph’s poem “When I am Old I Shall Wear Purple.” If King David has anything to teach us by his uninhibited dance it is simply this: Don’t wait until you are old:
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Rev. Michael Piazza