I’m Number 2!

Posted 15 February 2010 by

After reading a tweet and reading the page to which it linked, and watching the First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy video, I was reminded of a time when I was Number 2. And, how important it is to be Number 2.

To understand this post, you need to know that I cannot dance. Even though my sexual orientation is supposed to override my cultural background, it simply did not happen in this case. Maybe I’m the exception to prove the rule. Maybe having two feet that are flatter than most basketball courts trumps even sexual orientation. No matter what, I cannot dance.

Add to my lack of dancing abilities is that I no longer have a tendon down the lower left leg. Late onset radiation necrosis after radiation therapy is why I lost this tendon. I used a cane in public for a time because of this. It isn’t that I cannot walk without a cane, but I can be tripped easily. I cannot raise my left toe when I walk. Or dance. The only reason I don’t use my cane now is how much my shoulders hurt using it. (Yes, the cane is adjusted correctly.)

You should watch me exit an elevator when it doesn’t line up perfectly at the floor and I’m distracted by something.

The Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera immediately after the service where she was consecrated a bishop

Not everyone has the same problems with dance that I do.

There is the Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera. It is hard to find a time in public when she is not dancing. While I know Bishop Rivera experiences joy and sadness like the rest of us, watching how she enters fully into the dance of life is something that normally draws everyone who meets her into relationship with her.

Nedi Rivera square dancing, with husband in the square

What happens on one of those rare occasions when no one responds to the call of the Dancing Bishop?

This happened at the diocesan convention when Bishop Rivera was introduced to everyone after her election. At that point, she was not yet consecrated a bishop. She wasn’t even working yet from Diocesan House in Seattle. We were still getting to know her.

The sequence at the convention Eucharist was the version of “Open your ears, oh faithful people” found in the Hymnal 1982. While we were singing it, Nedi Rivera comes down from the Liturgical East and starts dancing in front of me. To me it was obvious she wanted other radicals to join her.

Remember that I can’t dance. I didn’t go anywhere in public without my cane at that point. While the many electric cords and cables on the convention floor were appropriately taped down (video screens, speakers, microphones), each provided a bump for my left toe to catch.

No one was joining Nedi Rivera. The sequence continued.

Finally, I decided I had to be the change I wanted to see in the world. I walked out there to dance with Nedi Rivera. I was accepted as an equal in this effort, even though Nedi Rivera had to give me emergency lessons in Jewish dance.

By walking out there to be Number 2, others decided they could join the dance. In fact, we danced around the outside edge of the whole convention.

I won’t say that I’ve never been more scared in my whole life doing this. It isn’t even close. I ride a motorcycle in rush hour traffic.

Fortunately no bump in the floor ruined the whole thing. From this, though, I learned the importance of being Number 2.

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