November 21, 2006

Dancing Gorilla

9:00 at night. The kids were in bed, Ginger was out with a friend. The house was quiet. I grabbed a book and settled down to read.

There was a knock at the door. I turned on the porch light and looked out the window, but it was still too dark to clearly see who was there. Nevertheless, I opened the door slowly.

"Hey, Pastor Danny!" A smiling teenager greeted me, one who I now recognized.

"Whassup?" I said. I usually try to sound somewhat cool around the kids, even though such attempts rarely succeed in masking my inherent geekiness.

"Would it be alright if I park my truck in your driveway for a while?"

"Why?" It pays to be skeptical when dealing with teenagers.

"Well..." he laughed. "My friend has a monkey costume and he wants to wear it and startle people as they drive down the street."

It seemed to me that this could possibly be a somewhat dangerous activity. I should have inquired as to whether some other activity might have been a better use of their time. At the very least, I should have asked why he wanted to do this in front of my house instead of his.

Instead, I said, "Huh?" So much for sounding cool... I didn't really need to hear him explain it again, but I did need an extra minute to ponder his request, to think this through. When he was finished repeating his request, I gave my permission, but added, "Make sure you're careful!" Geez, I'm getting old.

I closed the door, sat back down, and picked up my book. I started to read, but found it difficult to concentrate. I put the book down, walked over to the window, and peeked out through the blinds. Sure enough, there was a monkey – no, actually it was a gorilla – dancing in the street. It was illuminated by the headlights of a distant car. Its body was swaying, its arms were swinging, and it seemed to be trying to grunt and roar, although every attempt to do so ended in laughter. As the car came closer, the gorilla ran away into the darkness, and hid.

I started laughing in spite of myself. Then a strange sensation came over me, a sudden urge to run out there and dance in the street with the gorilla. No, wait; an even better idea: I'd sneak outside, using the bushes and the truck to hide myself from the gorilla and his friend. I'd sneak up on them, and I'd– oh, darn, I left the porch light on. They'd see me for sure. If I turned it off, that, too, would draw their attention.

As I pondered my next move, the gorilla and his friend got into the truck and left. Apparently, they'd had enough fun for one night. Either that, or it had become to cold outside.

I share this with you because I sense that each of us has that inner child within us that longs to sing, play, and dance. If such dancing takes place in the street with a gorilla mask on, all the better. Too often I, and most grown-ups, ignore that urge to play.

I also share this in case you were one of those who happened to drive down my street on that particular night, and saw a gorilla dancing in the distant glow of your headlights. I want you to know that even though the gorilla was in front of my house, it was not me under the mask.

Not this time, anyway.

And no, I won't reveal the gorilla's true identity.

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