Tamara Agustina Hurulean / Ambon
“Dancing With God”
“Dancing With God”
Written by Tamara Agustina Hurulean
Translated by Alifa Syauqina Mori
“One day, a priest may preach by moving his or her body, not always by rhetorics.”
This has been a humble dream of mine, drawn out of my personal angst since college. I studied at the Faculty of Theology of Universitas Kristen Indonesia Maluku, majoring in Philosophy of Divinity. The reason I went to college was that I wanted to be a priest. Although not all graduates of the faculty become one.
When I was little, I had always wondered, “Where did the priest appear from?” As I grew up, I knew that there is a ladder behind the pulpit, which helps the priest to get there. In college, some light had been shed on my confusion. I learned that the reason why the pulpit is located in the middle-front of a church is to symbolize the Word of God as the centre of the Church’s mission, amid this world. So, I can say that the angst I had since I was a child was not a pointless thing because it directed me towards a theological answer.
In college, I was not only studying but was also involved in art activities through my works. I had loved writing poems and dancing since I was a child, but had only started being engaged in theatre in college. This made me very happy to imagine and question many things that are beyond reasons. Going to the Faculty of Theology created many new disquieting questions, yet I am still excited about it. It strengthened my faith through the experiences I had.
The world might be completely strange to any kind of newcomer. Therefore, I was always grateful for and find joy in the things that God has given me. My house was located near the church, but that was not the only reason why I have always served God since childhood and wanted to become a priest when I grow up. I thought that the proximity to the church was a sign for me to improve myself.
I came from a simple and loving family. Due to my economic condition, I had always received support from the church since I was a child, from scholarships to other things whenever I needed help; as if God always made my life easier. The church is the representation of God’s presence in this world, and it is very normal to serve everybody without any discrimination. So far, that mission has continued. There are times when little things are put aside like the way buildings have an unfriendly design for children, people with disabilities, and elderly. Also, how the rhetorical preaching method does not accommodate the needs of the deaf.
During the final semester of college, I wrote an undergraduate thesis entitled “The Dance of Woman’s Life.” It employed the feminist hermeneutic approach in the form of dance on one of the stories in the Bible. While writing my undergraduate thesis, my head was full of questions like why does preaching always use rhetorical methods? Is that possible to do it in the form of dance? I know that for some people these few thoughts are insane, and some might even underestimate me. Yet, I am very grateful to have my teachers, friends, father and younger brother to support me.
I found out many things about dancing and God while doing my undergraduate thesis, and one of them is a quote by a philosopher called Friederich Nietzsche, which says “when people move (dance), they are trying to create value, including the one about God.” From Nietzsche, I learned that dancing is not only about the beauty of technique but also about the way we feel about what a dance was about and make other people understand the feeling we express.
I was not satisfied with my undergraduate thesis because I realized that my choreography was nothing special, and even no expert in the art of dance has commented on it. I can’t develop the idea only by stagnant words and skills. That is why I continued to pursue dance studies.
That day, I received a lot of compliments when I showed my thesis about dancing. But, it felt like new thoughts and burdens have knocked me out. Was the choreography good enough to be the reflection on God and His words? I thought about it for several days. I really wanted to continue my studies and study dance, but then I realized my family’s financial condition. On a Sunday afternoon, someone who wanted to stay anonymous offered me a scholarship. She would like to pay my tuition fees for my master’s degree. I was very gloomy yet happy at the same time because I really wanted to continue my study. I went home and prayed: let it be God’s will. I accepted the offer. I made all preparations for my study. However, God has His decision.
2020 was the year of hope for me. However, there are plenty of things that did not go as planned, and being unable to continue my study is one of them. I was very disappointed, I felt discouraged as if I have lost all hopes. The pandemic did not only affect me but also everyone in this world, including the kind person who wanted to help me with my master’s degree tuition. I calmed myself down and made peace with all the disappointments. I am so grateful to have my father, brother, and friends who are always there for me.
Life may not go as planned. As human beings, at one point we need to keep moving because life will never stay the same. Even when we stop, life will keep moving forward–leaving us behind. When we choose to quit, we will get left behind by life and others in it. Only regrets and the remains of our relinquished dreams shall welcome us.
I lived with my father and brother when my mother had chosen to leave. Living without a mother did not make me feel any lack of affection because my father is the best of his kind in this world. The man in this picture is my father, Martin Luther. I did not remember when this picture was taken, but one thing for sure it was taken this year, in our house, and he became a model for my face mask business. I picked this picture because I really like the tattoo on his chest, it has my name on it: “Tamara”. My father likes tattoos. He has a lot of tattoos on his body, and one of them is my name. Having a tattoo still becomes a debate for many people–especially for those who deem themselves religious-and the same goes with dancing. For me, a tattoo is an interesting art and does have meaning for the artist. Just like dancing, dancers will be happy even though they have had some pain. Besides tattoos, my father also likes gardening and taking care of flowers. Our house is full of his beloved flowers. He takes care of it with patience and love. He said that by looking at the flowers, his sorrows would all go away.
I love my father so much. For me, my father is the breath and courage for me to achieve my dreams. Even though I realized that it would destroy me when he is gone, that is how I feel. Twenty-three years living with him and my younger brother is the greatest gift from God. When I was four, my parents used to fight a lot. My mother left the house and never came back. It was not until we grew up that we found out that our mother had remarried and had children with her new husband.
It was not easy to live without my mother. My father is a hard-working school security guard. Back then, after he went home, he would take care of my brother and me, and our house as well. No wonder when I was in the 4th-grade elementary school I already knew how to take care of our house and wash clothes. My father always trusts me with everything, including managing finances at home. Back then, those responsibilities felt like a burden to me, but now I am getting used to it and even enjoying it. Living with my father makes me an independent and assertive woman who does not give up easily. Living as a sister is also not an easy thing to do. I still remember when I was smacked every time my little brother made a mistake or got injured while playing with his friends. My father taught me to be responsible for my brother and how to take care of him.
Our life is simple, yet I am very happy and do not regret my choice to live with my father. He had sacrificed too many things. He could just go and leave us alone, but he chose to stay–raising us until we have grown up. He supports me in everything I do and the decision I make. He is the one who understands me even when I do not speak. I know my father is worried about me, but I also believe that he trusts my decisions.
Someone can live alone, in their dream. Unfortunately, human beings live in the complicated reality of the world. Therefore, we need other people to make us move-to make sure that we are alive and live what we choose in life.
My father lives and survives with some things he likes
I live and survive with the things that I enjoy
Dancing makes me a free woman
Dancing revives emotions
Believe that God provides hope at the end of the road
I hope God gives me the strength to keep moving because perhaps, someone is moved just by seeing us move. I hope the Word of God can be portrayed through the body’s movements, unhampered by the prejudices of the religious, unlimited by space, but flowing like seawater;
Oscillating to commemorate
Being tranquil to make peace
Being saline to preserve
Like the dancer’s body
Such is the human body
Whose essence is the faithful glorification of the Divine