As if the prisms of the kaleidoscope
I plunged once in a butt of muddied water
surfaced like a marvellous lightship
And out of its silted crystals a monk’s face
that had spoken years ago from behind a grille
spoke again about the need and chance
to salvage everything, to re-envisage
the zenith and glimpsed jewels of any gift
mistakenly abased. . .
What came to nothing could always be replenished.
‘Read poems as prayers.’ he said, ‘and for your penance
translate me something by Juan de la Cruz.’
Returned from Spain to our chapped wilderness,
his consonants aspirate, his forehead shining,
he had made me feel there was nothing to confess.
Now his sandalled passage stirred me on to this:
How well I know that fountain, filling, running,
although it is the night.
But not its source because it does not have one,
which is all sources’ source and origin
although it is the night.
So pellucid it never can be muddied,
and I know that all light radiates from it
although it is the night.
I know no sounding-line can find its bottom
nobody ford or plumb its deepest fathom
although it is the night.
And its current so in flood it overspills
to water hell and heaven and all peoples
although it is the night.
And from these two a third current proceeds
which neither of these two, I know, precedes
although it is the night.
This eternal fountain hides and splashes
within this living bread that is life to us
although it is the night.
Hear it calling out to every creature.
And they drink these waters, although it is dark here
because it is the night.
I am repining for this living fountain.
Within this bread of life I see it plain
although it is the night.
The church community here is intensely practical – with a huge streak of gleefulness running miles deep. It emerges as a steady stream of humour that, I’m beginning to realize, doesn’t quite manage to be as sophisticated as it pretends. It has a certain twinkle in the metaphorical eye that doesn’t quite show in the books. Like when Andy (who with his wife Ruth makes up the grandparents of the group) glares at me for saying toMAYto instead of toMAHto, or tells me the right way to pronounce ‘Tuesday.’ (Tyoooosday!)
Andy might also be the most charming elderly British man I’ve met yet–white hair, blue eyes always glimmering with humor behind sensible glasses (spectacles!), slender, and always wearing a pair of colorful socks. Usually polka dots are involved. His mild-mannered English-ness is neither James Herriot nor Sherlock Holmes but somewhere in between.
Everyone has welcomed me truly as a family member, and the more time I spend with this lovely group the more I realize that they don’t go out of their way to be so warm and loving. They’d do it for anybody. I’m beyond humbled by their acceptance. For all intents and purposes, when I arrived I was a total stranger. I’d talked to Anthony twice via Skype, but I hadn’t met anybody in person.
I know I’m trustworthy, but I didn’t expect them to operate on that right away. To be honest, I didn’t expect that much trust until at least a couple months in (and it wouldn’t be unfair, either) but within a week they were sharing prayer concerns with me that I would share only with my closest friends. They expect me to participate in their day-to-day lives and events, which, considering that’s what I came to do, shouldn’t be surprising–but that they trust me to do what I said I would is beyond gratifying. They trust me with their kids, and are happy to include me in their family time, which is quickly becoming a cherished part of my time here.
Though honestly, the whole church is one big family (and by big, I mean about it extends to about 20 people). Ruth and Andy are the grandparents, as I said already. Then there are Adam and Anne, Anthony (who is the pastor) and Emma and their four kids (I live with them) and some single people: me, Sarah, Kathryn, Laura (we’re all about the same age) and John, an older fellow.
Anthony and Emma operate like clockwork. I love watching how they do things–they complement each other beautifully. Anthony is the talkative one, setting people immediately at ease with a couple words here and there. I love watching new people walk into the ESOL classes he teaches, because by the time the class ends they are confident enough to talk to him with the five or six words of English they do know.
I love listening to Emma pray and talk to others, because the strength of her faith shines. When she prays, she talks to God, and when she talks to others, she extends God’s grace. She’s ceaselessly gentle. I’ve sat with her at the nights we volunteer at a homeless shelter–she once spent over two hours playing chess with a belligerent young guy who threw a fit every time anyone interfered in any way, well-meant or otherwise. After five minutes watching them play, I was ready to slap him–but Emma maintained her composure throughout.
Adam and Anne are the couple who picked me up from the airport, and they too are like Anthony and Emma in how they complement each other. Adam is loud, funny, and impossibly gentle–Anne is feisty and serene all at once. Adam goes out of his way to include everybody in the conversation, and when he laughs you hear it through the whole house–but Anne is somehow just as present as he is. (It’s a bit confidence-boosting, really. If Anne and Emma can play as important roles as they do and still be quiet types, then there’s hope for me 🙂
I don’t think Sarah realizes how much of a pillar she is in the church. Though she’s currently an engineer, she is making plans to go to Bosnia for a three-year missions trip next year. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so determined to live out her faith humbly in every aspect of her life. Prayer walks or meetings? She’s there. Courses on learning about other religions? Yep. Bible studies with me and Emma. Church, hangout, serving the homeless in three or four different places, reaching out to the many Muslim women in Derby through moms and tots groups and through just talking to the people that she meets–she’s always serving.
Only a week or two after I got here, she invited me with her to her friend’s house. This woman recently came as a refugee from Albania. She has two daughters, one of whom is autistic and the other is a toddler. We were going as support for her friend while a doctor and translator came to the house. The image of Sarah, sitting off to the side and listening intently to the conversation, is imprinted on my memory as the definition of what it means to be a good friend, taking notes to help her friend navigate through all the hoops of settling here. Sarah’s gone above and beyond her duty, even spending the night with her friend when she had to go out of town for an immigration interview. “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” Her courage is an inspiration, and I know God will continue to use her to do great things for Him wherever she goes.
I’ve struck up a fabulous friendship with Kathryn. Though she doesn’t believe in God, she’s fallen in love with the church community too. A uni student, she and Laura are studying occupational therapy, which actually doesn’t have to do with our jobs, necessarily, but with how we occupy our time and what we make an occupation. Kathryn is pioneering some work in dark occupations – as in, helping people who make drugs or other physical abuse their occupation. She theorizes that people are turning to these dark occupations to satisfy good needs, like companionship, and is pursuing that train of thought as a means to help people overcome these problems. It makes sense then that not only does she work and volunteer constantly, but also is easy and pleasant to talk to.
I don’t know Laura very well yet, but I admire her rather a lot and am praying for her. She’s been struggling through some stuff, and going through a lot to get things in order again, spiritually, emotionally, and in terms of health as well.
And then there’s John. God is working on him. He’s the older fellow who’s been teaching me how to speak Derby English. He’s gone through some stuff recently too, but even in the two months I’ve been here God has visibly been changing him – I think he’s really close to becoming a believer. Listening to him pray the other day was truly an honor.
Coming to England has made me realize the incredible privilege of being part of God’s worldwide church. More than part of God’s church–part of His family, that He still talks to. Back at home in CA, and even at school in VA, we always tended toward the abstract and metaphysical. We forgot that God is also Friend, and not just Author, Creator, King, Savior, Lover, and all the other beautiful titles He has. Here, they talk to Him as well as worship Him. They’re always praying here, and it’s beyond reassuring to hear people bring their requests to God. More than anything else – more than singing, more than preaching, more than serving, we pray, and it’s literally just talking to God out loud, all of us together. It’s dizzyingly heart-filling to pray and know that the God of the Bible, who is on our side, is hearing every word with His full attention on us. He wants to hear what we have to say, so we tell Him about the friends we are making in the community. We tell Him all about their struggles – to learn English, to get permission to stay as asylum seekers or refugees or whatever, to find good schools for their autistic children, to overcome drug and alcohol addictions, to find homes and jobs. We ask Him to teach us how to love like He does. And He hears, and does it.
The people here at Urban Life overwhelm me when they pray for love, because they live it out in their actions toward me and they don’t even realize it. Things like that prove God over and again to me, because it shows that He is working in us to make us more like Him – and it’s right that we never be satisfied, until we are perfected in Heaven.
God listens intently when we pray. He will respond — in His own terms and in His own time and in His own perfect way. Not, perhaps, in the way we think is best – but there’s no way He lets our prayers go unanswered, no matter how long it takes. Knowing that makes the potential, the dignity, in every human being, no matter how troubled or dirty or illiterate – shine. Truly we have nothing to fear; our God has redeemed the worst of us and never stops perfecting us. The work is already done on the Cross.
The more I’m here, the more I know that fear is unjustified. Even if things are scary, or you don’t have all the pieces of the picture, you can really know that He is who He says He is. He is God, and for all that He is Savior and Creator and King, He is also as close to you as the other side of the couch, so to speak. And He’s moving us toward good ends.
“DON’T expect it to be like the books, Mary Sue,” I (and everyone who knows me) told myself. “Or the movies, or the TV shows.”
After all, I’ve only really caught up to the 1930s and 40s. Doubtless I could carry on lovely conversations with hundred-year-old women with independent streaks a mile, but I didn’t think I’d be meeting a lot of those.
Well, I was wrong. Not about the hundred-year-old women, I mean, but about England being like the books and movies.
Guys, it totally is!
Languages and Accents and Vocabulary
Of course, it’s the language that first caught my attention. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of being surrounded by British accents and hearing all these words I thought only existed in the books. It’s brilliant. All these words and phrases I picked up from British literature – that I wouldn’t dare use in the States because I’d sound absurd – are commonplace here (still!). I’m getting awfully good at maintaining a poker face when hearing a phrase I thought only existed in the Lord Peter books or Agatha Christie or Dickens or Austen. I’ve heard everything from sozzled to pinched to meself, mollycoddle and cosset and Crikey and Blimey! There’s a little part of me still holding out hope to hear the “sound of a good, solid, absolutely British ‘Damn!’” Nothing yet, but I’ll keep you updated. I think it might be too old-fashioned.
It’s funny to hear my American accent clunking and thudding among all these lilting British inflections. I think we move our cheeks around a lot more when we speak, which is why it sounds clunky.
Slight tangent, but hugely funny: I got a bit of an insight into what I must sound like the first time I volunteered at a homeless shelter with the rest of church. I was watching Emma play dominoes with another volunteer and a Polish homeless guy (I think his name is Slav?). He’s got barely any English, and what he does have is thickly accented. Swearing, of course, is no object – so when he lost, he said—actually, not said, more like declared, “Awww, ****.”
It fell like a brick. Like he literally stood up on the table and dropped a big red brick – I saw it in gorgeous detail in my mind’s eye, and nobody batted an eyelash, which made me laugh all the harder. I did my best to hide my laughter behind an imaginary throat-clearing and experienced a sudden rush of gleeful understanding when everybody’s eyes twinkle when I say something American.
Like when I say the word “herb.” They pronounce the ‘h,’ so the word sounds like “hehrb.” Of course, I pronounce it “ERRB,” and everyone peals with laughter. Finally they explained why. Apparently there’s an accent – I think it’s Yorkshire? – that pronounces it something like that. “It sounds like – just for that one word – you suddenly picked up a completely different accent!”
My accent is a dead giveaway that I’m not from here, but for the most part nobody’s had any problems understanding me. Except for immigrants and children. I subbed a couple classes for an ESOL teacher who was out of town for a couple weeks and had one boisterous Pakistani man with an accent thick as curry correct my pronunciation of “can’t” while I was reading something from our book.
“Can’t? What, can’t?” The look of consternation on his face as he slowly craned up his head at me from his book is forever imprinted on my memory. “KAAAHHNNNT.”
Cue flashbacks to Singin’ in the Rain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3OkXi5osfU.
Another funny story from class, courtesy of Melik: we were doing some exercises that had them complete the sentence. I wrote on the board, “I look forward to…”
Melik finished, in all seriousness: “when the queen of my dreams will come.”
A female student retorted, “She’s already at home!”
My accent also deeply amused the kids at the primary school I volunteer at on Tuesdays. 70% of the children at the school are Pakistani (Derby is a beautifully diverse city; the main street in town is one ethnic shop after another). My first day, I was confused as to why the kids kept talking to me about China. One after another, they’d come to me and point out everything with the color red in it and tell me the Chinese think it’s lucky.
Later, when the teacher introduced me, I understood why. “Miss Mary’s not from here, my ducks,” she said.
“Pakistan!” interjected one.
“Err, no, not from Pakistan—”
“No, Miss Mary is from America, which is almost as far away as China.” She looked up at me and explained, “Most of the kids come from Pakistan, and we learned about China, and that’s the extent of their geography!”
So the reason I was told about China, then, is because I’m obviously not British – not sounding like I do!
For the record, avoid using the word “pants” when in England. Here, it means “underwear.”
I knew this. I did.
Enough said about that one. At least it made the girls laugh.
(When I was little, I never ever wore pants…)
(Or shoes with laces. Because those were boy clothes, and I wouldn’t be caught dead in those. Obviously.)
And they really do talk about the weather! I nearly died when someone greeted me with “Miserable weather, innit?” Strangers call everybody darling, and love, and sweetheart. And there are the regional slang words and phrases to pick up, too. They rarely say, “Hi, how are you,” as a greeting. It’s, “are you all right,” only with the accent it gets all smushed together. “ayouawright?” You should hear them when they really get cracking, too. One darling old man, John, who comes to church every now and again has a thick Derbyshire accent. It took two or three conversations with him before I could understand more than one word in three, he talks so fast and with such an accent. I don’t think I’ve focused that hard on anyone since I graduated school!
I’m sure there’s lots more to come on settling into British English. Next blog entry (which is halfway drafted) will be on the church community here.
I had the privilege to read and review my friend Carolyn Golledge’s book Sunweavers: The Brothers. Carolyn was a mentor of mine in my LOTR fanfiction days in junior high, so I was thrilled when she approached me about reading and reviewing her book. I’m pleased to say, her writing was as good as I remembered 🙂
In Book One, Carolyn Golledge sets the stage for her six-part series Sunweavers by introducing us to two pairs of brothers: Sunweavers Taran m’Connor and Bren m’Fetrin, and Kerell Lerant and his foster brother Parlan Hollin, who are loyal to the emperor. Power-hungry Emperor Grouda is seeking to harvest the youthfulness of the Weavers, a people deeply connected with all living matter. With the help of the Spider Lords, Grouda removes m’Fetrin’s soul from his body. In order to save m’Fetrin, m’Connor must prove his innocence to Lerant, convinced that m’Connor is to blame for attacks targeting children of the city. Lerant already doubts the truth and morality of the war against the Sunweavers, but is constrained by guilt over his brother’s death (though Carolyn hints Parlan’s not finished yet!) and worry over his brother’s family. However, when Lerant finds proof of m’Connor’s innocence, Lerant breaks his allegiance to the Emperor. Strange abilities begin to manifest themselves in Lerant, giving m’Connor more hope than the Sunweavers have had in a long time.
Two minor quibbles: though the book’s mysticism is fundamental to the story, it sometimes drags. Secondly, because Carolyn introduces many new names and places in the first few chapters, it is difficult to grasp the setting for the first hundred pages or so. But don’t give up until you get to the golden heart of the story: the compassion and brotherly love that promises beautiful victory. The main draw of the story is the brothers and the perils they face in getting back to each other and leading their families and allies to victory. Carolyn’s greatest strength has always been her characters. There are always strong women and noble men, and the best part is the growth of their fierce devotion to each other, stemming from their desire to do the right thing. It’s satisfying. When hope glimmers on the horizon as Lerant and m’Connor overcome each obstacle and learn to trust each other, you’ll be cheering.
I thought about Woolf, and Faulkner, and Yeats, and realized: we’re nuts.
I love the modernists. Those messed up people were determined to live morally–even though they felt certain that God had abandoned them. God was so last-century anyway, even if He did exist. Which He didn’t. And they don’t need Him anyway. At least that’s what I got out of reading Yeats and Faulkner.
Yes, their viewpoint isn’t Christian, but in its expression of stark, lost humanity their work reflects the world that God came to save, and it is beautiful, in a foreign, negative-image kind of way.
Dr. Anthony Esolen is best known for his book Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child as well as his respected translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Additionally, he writes for several Christian magazines. I had the privilege of studying Dante and the two modern poets T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats under his direction last summer. One of Dr. Esolen’s recent articles (http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/a-nation-of-sludge) proved especially thought-provoking to me, because it is full of yearning in the way that I used to go wild over. However, when I first read the article something didn’t sit right with me. I used to love this sort of thing–something chock full of sadness and beautiful in a way that really touched the heart because of it (that’s the reason why I loved Tolkien so much).
“And so my heart yearns for a place that was. It was not perfect, as nothing on earth is. But it had all the simple sunniness of ordinary time, because it was ordinary: there was an order to it,” Dr. Esolen says.
He celebrates the beautiful old traditions and ideas that marked time, that structured it and gave it order so it could move as God’s love drew it; that idea is all over Dante and Eliot too. But the irony–and one of the two elements that helped me crystallize my response to Dr. Esolen’s article–is that he opens with W.B. Yeats’ classic poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” Although I read the article months ago, this thought didn’t hit me until I was thinking it over again yesterday.
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
It’s a short poem, and yet within it Yeats captures the longing for a place to go home to much better than Dr. Esolen or I can. But Yeats wasn’t a Christian–in fact, he was full-out pagan, holding seances and believing in the occult. His favorite everything, pretty much, resided in Irish myth and legend; if he could have, he would have been born in that era. Yeats lived his life stuck in what Eliot calls (with uncanny aptness) “the backward glance.” Yeats kept his face turned backward, so to speak, and he missed — everything — that spills over with news of God that lay in the future.
I love Yeats, but reading him made me less eager (healthily so, I think) to indulge myself in longing for the past; maybe in time God will grant me the wisdom to navigate it as Dr. Esolen does. Yeats broke my heart as I studied him last semester. He came so close to seeing who God is. Yeats’ poetry is wildly beautiful, but he didn’t take the leap of faith to God; rather he let himself get lost in the misty Irish fogs of millenia past. What Dr. Esolen says in his article resonates so strongly with the Yeats poem he quoted that I was depressed all day after I first read it. I want to go home, I thought after reading the article. Here are Dr. Esolen’s closing words:
There is only one choice; and to tell the truth, it was always the only choice. I will arise and go now to my Father’s house. It is time, Christian, to go home; there are no homes to be found anywhere else.
After I thought (and thought and thought) about it, I realized: I’m not okay with this. Yes, I want to go home. We all do. Including the modernists. The atheists, evolutionists, homosexuals, even the pro-choice people–they want to go home.
But they don’t have one.
They don’t have one. As Christians, our lives are transformed by the very existence of God; even though Christianity and suffering/persecution/fill-in-the-bad-thing-here go hand in hand, we have a home to go to in the end. Nonbelievers have nothing–and that reflects backwards into their lives now, and drains their lives of meaning. Yeats’ dream of a peaceful island is really the same thing as Dr. Esolen’s plea to go home; we’re homeless here. Dr. Esolen is so right–I want to go home to my Lord and see Him face to face, to be finally rid of my sins and to cry with relief that all the bad is done and all the good has barely begun. But Dr. Esolen, as opposed to Yeats, does know God. We have the luxury of looking back and seeing our God actively involved in time and working on our behalf, and that should be an encouragement to us to keep on going. Our work’s not done yet.
Yes, it’s become a nation of sludge, looking backward. But, looking forward–faring forward–it’s still God’s world. “I would have lost heart,” says the Psalmist, “unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” and it’s in the modernists too. I saw it reading Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury last fall in American Lit; Quentin (I have a weakness for conflicted academics) couldn’t stand everything he deemed wrong in his world so — but I don’t want to spoil it. It’s a photo-negative image of God’s goodness, but is nevertheless still effective in showing how and why we need the Lord; His absence is truly evil, and not in the “why do the wicked succeed” kind of way either.
Psalm 27 is my favorite chapter in the Bible right now.
4 One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
5 For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
Isn’t that just heady? Especially verse 4 – to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple. Makes me think of Augustine. I want that so badly, but David doesn’t mind the sludging part of life as much as he could have (I’m misappropriating Dr. Esolen’s argument a bit here, but I hope it’s not unjustified. Saul went nuts trying to regain God’s favor by killing God’s anointed–which seems like a nice modern dilemma to get yourself tangled up in). Anyways, David closes the psalm with verses 13-14.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!
In the end, the worst sinner is just like us, only worse off. We both want to go home, if we’re honest with ourselves, but we know where home is and Who is waiting there. The nonbeliever doesn’t. So we can’t go home yet. It’s still “fare forward” for us for a while longer, but we can make it. Until either Christ comes again or takes us home, the nonbeliever would be lost in between this world and the next and at the crossing of the river they’d be denied entry into the eternal fellowship we’re given with the Father–the fellowship that makes us truly free to enjoy this astonishing world God gave us. Be of good courage–it is truly God that we serve.
It’s a beautiful afternoon.
My room looks out westward into the garden my mother has lovingly cultivated over the years and now, back in my room after four long years of contented rushworkclasshurrysleep, I’m so enamored of the way the hours can tread patiently into sunset.
That’s probably why I’ve spent the last hour or so with my back propped up against my headboard in my room, looking out my window and enjoying the light and the way the breeze washes in.
The breeze is holy today, the way it washes in like the Holy Ghost, flying away with your breath, leaving you astonished and a little giddy. It’s carried the outdoors in–rose-scented. I stand at the door and knock, and Lord the window’s open too.
And the light. The room is brilliantly lit as the sunlight, colored with its own gold, comes in through my open window, let down gently by the wind. The light reflects upward, making the purple wall glow with warmth at the proffered friendship. He’s coming in, the light, rising over my bed as the red flowers and green leaves outside my window fairly thrum with anticipation. All creation groans. It’s a good thing, the agapanthus nods.
It all is, each sun-soaked undulation of my sleepy curtains, each gentle creak of the white rocking chair, each drowsy journey of the wasps arcing past my window. It’s marking time–so long since He came, so long till He comes again.
Fare forward, voyagers.
My mom loves to tell this story from when I was little:
I love to read. Apparently, before I started reading I was quite the talker. Once I started reading, the unspoken words quickly became more important. My reading ability grew by leaps and bounds until one day, she told me, “Mary Sue, maybe you’ll be a writer someday.”
I looked at her. “Nuh-uh. I’m gonna be a reader.”
Twenty-odd years later, it’s true. I love to read. It’s my thing, my vocation, part of my soul and the air I breathe and the things I say, think, do. Naturally, then, I got my degree in literature, and am taking a gap year before starting, Lord willing, graduate school in the fall of 2014.
But I’m still not much of a writer, and by that I mean I can write reams of academic stuff and have the time of my life…when I’m writing under a deadline. Not really a good thing, especially since four years in college formulated a taste for searching out the ways God has made Himself known through good, thought-provoking literature.
I guess my goal for this blog is to learn discipline in writing and thinking. There’s a certain document (called, innovatively, “Stuff to Write”) in a folder (more innovatively still, “my scribblings”) with a list of twelve topics I wrote down during the school year to think about later. They range over a whole host of ideas; some gargantuan (Number 1: time and place and Christianity) and some rather ridiculous (Number 12: Don’t tell me to get some rest.)
And there’s this big thing I’m beginning to see, and I have a feeling it’ll be a life-long (maybe eternity-long) seeing, if you know what I mean. It’ll be this seeing that’s gonna lead to me to write and think for the rest of my life, in order to understand (and by that I mean the “put it in words so that I can define it to myself over the years” sort of way) and begin to explore the facets He shows me through books and life and people–facets of God the Creator and Savior, and what He’s done, and how He loves, and how He wants us to love.
So this is the still point. This’ll be where I stop and try to think (and just maybe, someday, it won’t be quite so laborious :s) and see, at least a glimpse, of the dance going on.