A motion of respect and reverence

Photo: Lucas Ludwig, Unsplash.

Honor your partner, bow to begin.

My husband was a square dancer back in the day. I’ve heard it was one of the ways a nice Mennonite boy could find himself a gal. It didn’t work out so well for him, because while he was do-si-doing, this girl of his was on the disco floor.

While square dance didn’t bring us together, it does keep us from falling apart. One move in particular: Bow to your partner. 

To the best of my knowledge (which is admittedly small in this area), the aforementioned move is the very first call of every square dance. You begin with a bow.

This is wisdom I want to waltz with all the way home. 

I wonder what might happen if I adopt this practice in my daily life. If I pause at the start of any and everything to greet it with a bow: this day, this person, this work, this plan. I wonder if I might enjoy the dance more than when I charge right in with two left feet, a tangled, tripping mess.

To bow is to approach with reverence and honor and a healthy dose of respect. I am finding that, when implemented, this approach de-escalates both me and the person or project with whom I am about to engage. 

I’ve often heard there’s only one thing we can really control in life, and that’s our attitude. But I think I may have stumbled onto one more (and who’s not looking for more things to control?). 

I think we get to control our approach. Our approach to people, to projects, and yes, even to problems and pain. We can bow to begin. 

I was reading in 1 Peter 1 the other day when verse 17 caught my heart. “Conduct yourselves with true reverence throughout the time of your temporary residence on the earth, whether long or short” (Amplified). 

The words “true reverence” and “temporary residence,” stood out to me. I want to live my residence on Earth in reverence to God and all God has made. A deep bow to my work, and to the people in front of me. To creation and all of its creatures. A bow to the time I have and to the body I spend it in. 

I want to live as if I am standing on holy ground because, as it turns out, I am. May my days be bookended with bows. 

This isn’t easy, dear reader. When I’m in a rush, there’s little time for reverence. I plow through my day without pause, and may the Lord have pity on the partner before me. And then, let’s be honest, there are simply some people I don’t want to bow before: those with whom I remain stiff-necked and straight, with whom the dance is awkward at best due to failed attempts in the past. How might it be different if I began with a bow?

A farm-girl friend and I were talking about the parable of the wheat and the tares. The one in which the weeds and the wheat grow up together (Matthew 13:24-30). She said, “Do you know how the farmer tells the wheat and the weeds apart?” Having been raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I certainly did not. “When they reach maturation,” she went on to tell me, “the weeds stand straight and stiff, rather rigid and right. The wheat bows its head.”

The wheat bows its head. Perhaps reverence is something we grow into. 

How do you approach your day, your work, your people, your God? What might change if you were to take one quick moment of reverent pause before engaging who or what is before you? Each new person, problem, project or pain? Another person’s perspective or point of view?

We once attended a church that hired a new pastor. He came in with such eagerness to dance that he ran onto the floor with gusto. Hooking elbows with styles and structures, with programs and pace, he swung them all about. His ideas were not bad, but he neglected to bow. I’ve done the same countless times.

In deference and preference, why not bow? In honor and humility, respect and reverence, why not bow? There’s sacred ground all around. Mind your approach, begin with a bow. 

“Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). 

Honor your partner. Bow to begin.  

Jenny Gehman

Jenny Gehman is a writer and retreat speaker in Millersville, PA. Jenny writes a weekly devotional, Little Life Words, at Read More

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!