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The Edge of the Sword We Dance On

When I was a child I went with my family to a performance of Scottish highland music and dance. I liked it just fine but I kept thinking, when are they going to do the sword dance? I was all ready to see the guys come out and swing swords around, dancing around and swashbuckling with them – but no. They just gently laid two swords down flatways on the floor and proceeded to do fancy footwork around the sword blades. It was alright – it obviously meant a lot to them, but, to be truthful, I was disappointed. There was no danger, no threat of violence. I was underawed. They never even came close to getting cut on those things, assuming they were even real swords.
But I am not underawed concerning our real-life sword dance. How can I be? In the realm of actuality the art of the dance is not symbolic, it’s for keeps. We dance not because we choose, but because we have no choice. We dance under threat of violence, in the overwhelming fear of the unknown, for our life or our death and the separate but equal dread of them both. We dance spontaneously, not according to a prescribed set of steps (however well-meant that preset plan might be). And we dance not in the spaces between the flats, but right on the sharp edge of the freshly-honed blade. Extreme sword dancing, we can call it.
But maybe that metaphor is a little extreme. Maybe that picture of life is over-the-top. I don’t think so. Consider the bad dreams that wake us up in the night. Those ought provide a clue, or a key, to the dread and anxiety that baseline our reality. So dancing on the edge of the sword? I think it’s a great metaphor. Just let’s wear some good strong-soled shoes and let’s look to the master of the dance —the Lord of the Dance. He ought to be able to help.