“I Disappear!”

I was reminded recently of the movie “Billy Eliot.”  The story tells about the unlikely path of a pre-adolescent boy in a northern English coal mining town.  While the majority of his mates take up boxing, a “manly” activity, Billy Eliot feels drawn to ballet.  The boy’s friends look at him askance and the girls in the dance class giggle as Billy imitates their movements.  Even the boy’s father expresses some hostility to his son’s preference for graceful movement to jabs and upper cuts.  Eventually, however, the father sees the beauty of his son’s sense of call and helps his boy go to an audition at London’s prestigious Royal Ballet School.  

Well, the erudite atmosphere of the school’s audition hall intimidates the boy used to the more rough surroundings of a coal mining town, but at the end of what appears to be a failed audition, one of the panelists asks Billy a question.  “Billy, what does it feel like when you’re dancing?”  He was on his way out the door, but Billy turns and says, “I dunno.”  He then thinks for a moment and says, “It feels good . . . when I get going, I sort of disappear. I sort of disappear.”  Billy then returns to the coal mining town thinking he’s failed the audition.  I won’t tell you anymore about the movie.   If you haven’t seen it, it’s totally worth the time, but – SPOILER ALERT – a few days later, an acceptance letter arrives and the final scenes of the film will make even a granite monolith shed tears.

“My doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!?”  I have to admit that I uttered versions of this cliche more often as a child than I have as an adult.  On the other hand, as an adult I understand its truth much better.  When we’re fully engaged in an activity that we love, that elevates our spirit, that calls on our gifts and abilities, our deepest passions, we lose a sense of time passing.  When you lose a sense of time passing, you actually taste Eternity, where the limitations of the mortal spirit fall away.  You become like Billy Eliot: you disappear.  In other words, we’re happiest when our egos fade, because that’s when the truest beauty emerges.

This explains why the first principal of our Support Team methodology is “Do What you Love.”  When we serve others out of what we love, the deepest thing in us communes with the deepest thing in all those with whom we serve.  When we tap into that depth greater than our ego’s desire for recognition or recompense, we release a vitalizing spirit.  Our presence flows with the freedom of unforced grace and possesses a healing embrace.  Beauty emerges, and beauty possesses a healing power.

This coming Friday, we’ll talk about this first of our Ten Best Practices and the Promise that emerges from it.  I typed “Promise” with a capital letter because after teaching and applying these Ten Best Practices for years now, we’ve come to realize that these practices also release a deepening human completeness, increasing our capacities to care and show compassion.  We’re so sure of this wisdom that we can confidently promise some things.

Look for the link this Thursday.  Those on the email list will get the invitation sooner.  If you want to be on the email list, just send the request to

By Drexel Rayford

Drexel has been senior pastor of four churches in Kentucky and Virginia, a psychiatric ward chaplain, denominational bureaucrat, and an erstwhile indie singer/songwriter/story-teller and seeker of authentic human vocation. Currently, Drexel is working at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center in the capacity of The Support Team Network manager, a hospital-based community partnership aimed at nurturing healing communities for discharged patients. He loves kayaking, road cycling, hiking, and all kinds of photography, but he loves his wife Vicki and blended family of three adult children more. He holds a Ph.D. in the Psychology of Religion and a pastoral counseling certificate from the University of Louisville, Department of Psychiatry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s