The Grace of “Left Shark”

10015158_10205177493329769_9185701530962239810_nThere appeared this week, at a splendidly fabulous over-the-top Superbowl half time show, a dancer we have called “Left Shark”.  He doesn’t seem to have a name, and we don’t know who he really was.  We just all watched, on a national stage dedicated to excellence and talent and getting everything extensively “perfect” , Left Shark try his best.

The reaction in social media seemed deafening to me.  Suddenly Left Shark was the meme, the mascot, the MVP – not of the game, but for us all. Why the outpouring of support?

I see it as reaction to our need to be “perfect”. To get it all “right” Is that what is required of us?

In my early days of teaching, I had a young student named Maggie.  She longed to play the oboe.  On her first day of oboe lessons, she quietly opened the instrument case with a gasp.  She said with deep reverence, “This is the day I have waited my whole life for.”

Maggie did not have what we in the music ed biz call “talent”.  But she practiced every day.  And she never really got any better than those first two LOUD notes (a G and an F).  The next fall, when she joined band, she found herself surrounded by students just beginning to create “good” sounds.  When we practiced, we could hear her high-pitched drone, her perfectly timed rhythms hovering in a cryptic morse code above the more pleasant band sounds.  DEET DEET DIT DIT DIT DEET she would wail. Always on time for rehearsals, always handed in her practice charts, always willing to be patient and wait and try her best.  Which by any musical standards was pretty average.

I don’t know what happened to Maggie.  I am fairly confident she did not end up employed by a symphony orchestra.  But when I saw this giant shark dancing on the stage, just being present, just showing up with enthusiasm and intention – it reminded me of Maggie and her oboe.  All these years later, it is Maggie that made the impression, Maggie who wrote the lesson of Love and commitment on my heart.

I hope we are all called first and foremost to just “show up”.  Perhaps it is when we are less prepared, less talented, less skilled in the ways we think are important, this is when God walks in and uses us in whole new directions.  I hope so.


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