Several D words have sometimes linked themselves to our granddaughter’s name in the decade since her birth. Dinah-mite. Dynamic Dinah. Dina-sore. But the alliteration that always fits is Dinah Dancer. Before she could talk, the slight live-wire swayed, bounced and twirled to music she alone could hear.
“Watch me, Nana!” She leaps across her living room like a gazelle, toes pointed, chin up, hands outstretched, fingers perfectly arranged. Once landed, she continues the ballet, her motions fluid and eloquent. Minutes later, she finishes her performance with a music-box pirouette, acknowledging my applause with a graceful bow. Chin high, face ablaze, her eyes meet mine.
Her baby brother wiggles on my lap. Other siblings surround us, some playing instruments, one reading on the couch. Accustomed to their sister’s dancing, they seem oblivious to today’s performance – just as she is to them.
“I could watch you all day,” I say. “Honey, God gave you a beautiful gift of movement. Did you know that?” She flushes with a curious mixture of pride and embarrassment.
Dinah Jane doesn’t take dance lessons. Her movements flow from intuition and observation. Often she dances to worship songs, and when she dances, she glows.
God has given equally wonderful gifts to all our family members, but Dinah alone arrived programmed this way. At two or barely three she stood on the church platform with a group of mixed ages, all singing an upbeat praise song. The rest stood still as signposts, but Dinah swayed like a sapling in the breeze. Barely at first, then enthusiastically.
Leaving her spot, she took a step forward. Turning to face the others, she raised her hands in invitation. “Dance, guys!” When no one responded, she shrugged, turned to face the congregation and danced alone.
Funny thing, this. Dinah comes from a long line of certified non-dancers. None of us danced, not her parents, not either set of grandparents before them (I dance like a carrot underground) nor the four sets of great-grandparents before them. Her maternal great-grandfather attended barn dances while young, but following Jesus proved far more satisfying.
One of her siblings mentioned the anomaly. “Nana, Dinah just wants to dance. What will happen to her?” We’re all curious. In a family of Christian ministers and workers, what can God do with a dancer?
Our family’s congregational tradition is fairly placid, (at least in adult services) but since Bible times people of faith have also practiced exuberant worship, sometimes with worship dancers. Scripture reminds us that what matters most to God is what only he can see: the heart of the worshipper.
“I don’t know, honey,” I answered. “But I know this: God doesn’t make mistakes. He has a reason and plan for Dinah’s gift. He made our bodies to move, after all.”
I also know this – when Dinah dances for Jesus, his is the only applause that will matter – but my spirit will dance along.
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Psalm 150:4