I was sitting outside drinking coffee in my local neighborhood recently. There was music playing and people were milling about. I noticed a large shirtless man in a kilt standing across the street dancing to the music--all by himself. Large shirtless men in kilts tend to grab one's attention. And it was like the combination of the attire and the wild, erratic dancing created about a 30 foot forcefield around him. Everyone walked a wide circle around him.
It reminded me of a scene I witnessed in Boston a few years ago. I had gone to Harvard for a workshop on case teaching and was spending this hot summer evening walking the streets of Cambridge. There was a rock and roll band playing in a large triangular island where three streets came together just above a subway entrance. I got there for the first chord of Born to Be Wild. They were good and so I stayed to listen.
A large young man in a dirty t-shirt and cut-off jeans moved right in front of the band and began dancing wildly. We were collectively embarrassed or ashamed or something, because all the air seemed to get sucked right out of the place. It was a buzz killer and I could tell the band was disturbed. People began to leave.
Just then a gorgeous young woman in a short, white summer dress and long tanned legs took off her shoes and began to dance with him. Not just around him, or at the same time as him. But with him. It was one of the most striking things I have ever seen in my life. And soon, the whole place was dancing. The band plowed right into Brown Sugar and the place went going crazy. (I of course, being very Church of Christ, did not dance, but I did tap my feet a little, and I smiled broadly at the entire scene. Ok, I danced a little, but I was keeping it real). And while the transformative figure of the evening was the young woman, the star was the wild young man. People began imitating his wild dancing. He was beside himself with joy and it was contagious. It's one of the happiest moments of my life. And its times like that make me believe that things can change, that transformation is possible, and that there's a Holy Spirit at work in the world. Grace.