Spinning Off


Tights & Turkish Delights

My thirteen year old, Delanie is dabling in dance. My turn to carpool.  At the end of techniques class the girls do pass offs, round offs, splits, pirouettes.  Three out of four recommend laughing and anxiously ask, “Did I pass it off?” But off in the corner is my girl.  I call her over and give a hug.  “What are you doing over there?”  I ask, squeezing a little tighter.  Smile. In hushed tones I say,  “Why don’t you go jump for joy or something.”  The wrong thing to say too close to friends. “It’s LEAP mom!”   She is obviously not having fun anymore and goes back to her corner.  So I turn attention back to the soloists and ask, “So who can do a whirling dervish? They look at me fishy. They don’t know what it is. “What?” You would think I had said whirling disease. “Your homework is to find out what it is and then do one,” I assign.

Pico de Gallo, my dance instructor friend searches on her laptop.  We watch rather unimpressed as a Turkish man goes into a slow spin. Perpertual slow motion. This feels a lot like so many church meetings.  With his agitator stuck on low speed we can’t take more than a few minutes of this maxi skirt performance before refining the search. I would like to visit the CCV, Emmanuel Baptist, or Mountain Life Church where I can move freely, sing and dance.  Sometimes spin like aa  Microsoft wheel of death in my theology and culture.  Forever escaping to the foyer, bathroom, waterfountain.  Just stop! Why can’t we reverence this foreign ritual prayer dance?  Instead we laugh and round the rottary to what is close and familiar…home.

“Can I drive!?” I pull over just a quarter mile from the house to let my daughter drive the truck.  It’s a first for an almost fourteen-yr-old.  This proves as most “firsts” do to be a star of wonder no matter what the activity.  OMGosh!  We roll along cautiously coloring between the lines and skipping potholes.  She suddenly brakes, and I ask, “What happened?   Did a pot gut cross the road?”   “No.”  She’s just getting a feel for the brakes.

“So this is your first time driving with me.  How am I doing?” I ask laughing.  She’s concentrating. “Huh?  Replies in disbelief.  Taps the brakes again ever so lightly.  Finally she registers suprise that I just asked how I was doing instead of how she was doing.  “Are you good?” I follow up.  “Yep,” she brims and keeps on going loving every minute of it.

Next is pulling into the drive way.  Reduces speed. Turns cockeyed and squares.  Well.. rounds off.  Judges depth and perceives the bay door. Cocks, guns, and hits the target! In softball we call this a fowl ball due to a “late swing.”  Braking is an after thought, and feels like an overthrow in which a runner on the other team advances and scores. Only no one roars. All is still and quiet.

Now she is really worried like a pitcher who has walked one, two too many batters. I smile tensely but try not to show it,”Your there,” I laugh.  “Okay, back up a little. It’s going to be fine.”  She does and I get out, inspecting and breathing relief, “Your fine…..no mark.” She looks at me like, “I’m no ninnyhammer. Let’s go again.” I’m thinking “No mark” means I won’t have to explain the dent to my husband Mark.  I point out the front fender that is “whited out,” and say, “Remember when your sister sideswiped the garage?’  We both laugh.

Once inside we fall into lunching laxness and liesure.  I look up whirling dervish.  This time I find what I was looking for without having to go to MIM, the Musical Instument Museum of Phoenix where any number of cultures sport varied dervish dances.  One loinclothed man from Sri Lanka ruff and tumbles with his drum like a lesser clothed god and a chiseled Gene Kelly “nose diving” an airplane along the streets of Paris.

The definition is good but does not meet my needs because I am wishing for a Spinelli moment of hokey pokeys, so I invent some of my own meanings.  Let’s see….

whirling dervish

1.  Yes. noun.  a member of a Turkish order of dervishes, or Sufis, whose ritual consists in part of a highly stylized whirling dance. (See Egyptain El Tanoura Dancer; http://youtu.be?A3UAvtiM9r4 )

2. maybe…noun. a round about, rotary, circuitous or indirect road, method. (as found in Sedona and Wickenberg, Arizona;( ie. We rosaried around the rotary at the Garman’s request.)

3.  And….verb.  to throw out in a circular motion  (ie.  When cleaning out the refrigerator, I gave the rotten potato salad a good whirling dervish onto the hillside.)

4. Yes. verb.  to spin off, out of control in a reckless path; to sin

I choose contestant number one and the good old Encyclopedia:


whirling dervish

fraternity of Sufis (Muslim mystics) founded in Konya (Qonya), Anatolia, by the Persian Sufi poet Rumi(d. 1273), whose popular title mawlana (Arabic: “our master”) gave the order its name. The order,propagated throughout Anatolia, controlled Konya and environs by the 15th century and in the 17thcentury appeared in Constantinople (Istanbul). European travelers identified the Mawlawiyah as dancing(or whirling) dervishes, based on their observations of the order’s ritual prayer (dhikr), performedspinning on the right foot to the accompaniment of musical instruments.

But I can’t help but think on contestant number four. Through the lens of my Christianity, I  see a kaleidescope of my own whirling dervishes and Turkish delights and wonder what I would learn at Sonrise Camp? I feel I will come to Jesus as I let the little children come unto me in nursery class for now, but would like to see a mermaid baptised at Rockport or in a Shark Tank dunking booth.

My teens make plans for a movie.  There is an invitation from one sister to the other that feels a lot like rejection.  Lucky for me their older brother is here to intercede. They enter into a Social Contract and leave. I feel like the almond tree photosythesizing now that I can breath freely and get back to writing. Che’ and I  chat about American Constitutional History, and Poetry.  John Locke, Hobbs, Rousseau….and I decide I wouldn’t want to enter Emily Dickensen’s Heaven.  The end of the poem sounds so CSI…like she killed them all.  My friend says “No way!” and we have a good laugh at Emily’s expense as we ponder whirling dervishes and Turkish delights.


About hrobertson2013

“Each man ( and mermaid) will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land”. Isa 32:2 NIV Warning: The author of this blog is not an ordinary individual. Even Mermaids need a rest from all that's real and grown up. Welcome to the wonder of blog. Come be audience to all that's wet and wild in her stories, poems and thoughts. Instructor by day, super hero by night, and mystical mermaid by summer. Whenever she has the fortune of diving into a pond, reservoir, or mountain waterfall, you'll find her there swimming, and singing songs of life.
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