The Word in the Wings

The Word in the Wings  > From the studio: a time for everything

From the studio: a time for everything


When seasons change from winter into spring, I can’t help but be in awe of our omnipresent and omnipotent God. One day there are no leaves on the trees and then almost instantly, leaves begin growing, flowers begin blooming, and birds are chirping. The air smells of flowers and fresh spring rain. The Earth once again has orbited around the sun and is ready for new life to take shape. There is a particular time for nature to move, just like there is a particular time or season for many things in our own lives. There is time for the leaves to fall and then grow  just like there is a time for sorrow as well as joy in our lives. We wish we were all safe from tragedy and pain, but that is not reality in our fallen world. Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 explains this idea of seasons in our own lives.

1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2  a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8  a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
    and what will be has been before;
    and God will call the past to account.

To understand this scripture further, the dancers and I discussed each verse line by line. We identified when these different circumstances could have happened in someone’s life, and we discussed the importance of positive as well as negative experiences. Verses 1-8 seem undeniably relatable. The second half of verse 2, “a time to plant and a time to uproot” reminded me of the many times my family moved during my childhood. It is difficult for any child to move from their familiar home and school to somewhere completely new. I can relate to the feeling of being “uprooted” as well as “planted.”  The experiences may have been difficult but it forced my siblings and me to bond in a way that may not have happened otherwise. Was it difficult? Yes, but so much good came out of it!  To this day, my family is so close. We live in different states but we connect at least once a day via text or phone calls. 

There is a time for negative aspects in your life as well as positive ones.  The dancers and  I agreed that in order to grow and become wiser, we must experience pain, trials, and triumphs. Life is too short and too precious to stay stuck in the past or to mourn endlessly. Luckily, we have a relational God that hears our cries. He uses both joy and sorrow to draw us near to him. He sustains us through our trials and pulls us out of despair so that we may laugh once more. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”  This scripture taught us the importance of putting our hope in God. God is permanent;  life on this Earth is not. God’s actions are complete. Verse 14 says, “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.”  What a comfort to know HE is in charge!  He is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving.

Following our discussion,  we looked at the lyrics to “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds. The lyrics of the song are almost identical to verses 1-8. I asked the dancers to write down a specific moment in their lives that demonstrated each verse of the song. I wanted them to connect the scripture to a specific, and emotional time in their lives. 

After we had identified these different experiences in our lives, I assigned a verse to each dancer to create choreography that best represented that particular experience. After about 20 minutes  we came back together as a group. To me, the chorus represents the monotony of life, so I taught them the same choreography for all the choruses. When their assigned verse or the chorus was not being played, I  encouraged them to do what came natural to them. I invited them to either stand still and contemplate or to continue to move their bodies. 

My goal in this exercise was to connect the scripture to a personal experience in their lives and then to transform that experience into movement, which in turn would help them to fully internalize the scripture. Dancers are required to tell stories through movement of their bodies and in order to do that in a way that transfers well to the audience, they must feel it deeply and emotionally. When one dances with their soul, the story unfolds so beautifully that the audience is effortlessly carried  along on the journey. 

I invite you to take a look at our video of this work in the studio. Remember, this is not a perfected performance, this is an exercise to develop the skill of interpreting scripture through dance. I hope you enjoy a closer look at their time in the studio!

Click here to watch “Turn, Turn, Turn.”


Scripture in this post is from the New International Version.

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