I remember being 9 years old, and it was the birth of the 70’s. In Kansas City my mommy was exploring her different sides. The country was challenging the status quo. People were wondering how to become ‘free’. Jobs, and responsibilities, old-time values, and wars we didn’t want to fight, were shackles.
How amazing everything is when you’re 9 years old. I was just about to be introduced to Narnia, and a lifetime love of reading. I saw the world through the safety of my family’s lens, yet I was absorbing so much. My oldest brother and his explosion of music, of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Bob Dylan, and Cat Stevens. My mother meeting a lot of sash-wearing, long-haired, folksy people and bringing me along: I caught the nuances of their feelings, the way they chased sunlight, and craved ankle skirts in bold colors, and danced barefoot. One of these was a young mother, with a baby, who’d just been born again and told me about Jesus. She taught me to serve Him free. To take out a verse from the Bible, and find it exciting, like a jewel meant just for me.
One evening my mother took me to an old Kansas City building somewhere. Or maybe these memories I’m about to relate are an amalgamation of experiences my child-mind jumbled together. But I think there was old wood paneling wrapping the walls inside this building, smelling caramelized in beeswax. A carpenter-built stage four feet from the audience, with dancers in flowing, hippy skirts. Bare arms and sashes, wound through and braided in their hair. They did a dance called ‘clogging’. It swept me away, for I’d never seen anything like it.
‘May the circle, be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by, there’s a better, home awaitin’, in the sky, Lord, in the sky’.
These words were sung by guitar players and drummers in a simple band, and expressed by dancers, pounding the syllables into the warm, dark-brown floorboards. They weren’t a famous pop group. They weren’t up and coming. It wasn’t about that. They all felt the heat of this atmosphere, of the swirly world of bright colors, longing to burst out of a person, like freedom.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says this: ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’, or, as is more correctly translated, ‘in your midst’. Meaning, it’s Jesus. He’s here, in the middle of everything. He’s here.
We haven’t felt free lately. We can’t go and dance together, holding hands. We’ve been clogged. But Jesus has given me a lifetime of freedom, and a future home waiting for me.
Down deep inside me, I can still find that child I used to be. I can sing and hold His hand. I can pound the floorboards with my faith. I can hope God will give us more time. I want all my friends, who don’t know this peace, to come. Jesus’ hand is outstretched. He loves us all. Believe it.