The Limbo Dance
” The great spiritual teachers always balance knowing with not knowing … moving beyond words and images into silence, darkness, and metaphor. Both ways are necessary, and together they create a magnificent form of higher non-dual consciousness called faith. ”
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
I remember in grade school there was always a recess game that I shied away from, Limbo. If you are unfamiliar with the game, let me give you a brief explanation. Two people, usually teachers or taller children, would hold this pole between them. Kids would form a line and one-by-one, you would inch yourself under this pole trying hard not to touch it or worse – fall down. But here’s the kicker, after the last kid went through, the pole would be lowered closer to the ground, making it even harder to inch yourself under.
As you wait in line, you would see kids either make it or end up not bending back far enough to inch themselves under this pole. While you are waiting your mind goes crazy. You begin questioning yourself, your ability, your skill, and even asking yourself is it even worth playing this game anymore.
Now being older, I think I disliked this game because in my opinion, it relied less on any physical ability and more on random chance. Climbing the monkey bars required upper body strength, jumping off the swing at the highest point possible required guts and leg strength when you landed. Limbo – required trust.
Trust because you had to have faith in yourself and the aspect of not knowing if you would make it or not.
In life, we will encounter LIMBO moments. Moments where we are in between a decision, moments where we are at a crossroads. There are even moments in life, where we will be waiting “in line”, just to finally arrive and become unnerved at just how low the bar has become. These are the moments where we grow, where we become acquainted not with our physical strength, but with our inner strength. It forces us to close our eyes and trust the preparation of the process.
When I was younger, I remember asking a little girl during summer camp, who would always win at limbo, how does she win. It always baffled me because we were the same height, same age, same body frame, and wore glasses, so what was it about her that led her to always winning. At age 9, I remember her telling me, ” I just close my eyes and go.” She ended up telling me her secret of how she would see the bar in front of her, but not allow her mind to really sike her out before she even attempted to limbo under it. Furthermore, she would take her time, remaining patient and not moving too quickly while she was half way through. Then she said, ” If I fall, I fall. But you can always get back in line and try again Kyla.”
At age 9, she pretty much understood how to overcome any obstacle she would face in her life. I ended up studying her moves and noticed how she didn’t look to her left or her right, she just kept her eye on the prize.
The great philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said, “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
The next time you encounter your Limbo, don’t count yourself out before you even attempt to cross the finish line. Don’t look to the left, don’t look to the right, don’t try to grab ahold of anything just to distract you. This limbo test is made specifically for you. It’s all in your mind and you can conquer any and everything as long as you believe in yourself.
There will always be moments where you are unsure if you will make it, if you will get that job, if you will pass that test, if you will win that award. You see victory on the other side, but you must first cross under that limbo bar to achieve it.
So, do what a 9 year old girl did, close your eyes and have faith. Trust in your inner strength, but also trust that your Creator and the Universe will carry you through. And let’s say you fall short or fall down (because we always do), you can always get back in line and try again. Use that temporary failure or setback, to perfect your moves and perfect your faith. This is not a race, this is your journey, so be patient with yourself, careful to not bring unfulfilled expectations to this part of your journey.
There’s freedom in not knowing what’s next, what’s over the horizon. It allows you to create the highest, grandest vision of triumph for yourself – but in order to achieve this greatness – you must take that first step.
Close your eyes, and inch slowly under the bar, trusting in the unknown and trusting that God has your back.