We all have days when we miss the dance.

I had one of those days last week, when I refused to dance with my wife at our church’s Western day dance.

Becky knows I can’t dance, but what she didn’t know was that the seeds of my refusal were planted back in junior high during band tryouts.

In band tryouts, each player is first seated by his perceived ability. In my case, I began the tryout as third chair of 13 trumpets — all vying for the first chair.

When I was finished, my conductor rubbed his chin, saying, “There’s something not quite right.”

During the next 20 minutes, he focused on placing me in the appropriate chair by asking several players to repeat their performances. Finally, he announced that my rhythm was “off.”

“You need some work. Please take chair 10.”

During the next few months, he had more to say about my poor rhythm, eventually placing me in the last chair.

To this day, I have no rhythm. If it wasn’t for spellcheckers, I couldn’t spell rhythm. The word honestly needs an “e.”

Fast-forward 38 years, and you’ll find my wife asking me to dance. The church hired a professional square dance caller, so I guess she saw an opportunity for God to perform a miracle and heal the lame.

“Come on,” she said grabbing my hand, “this is easy.”

I shook my head, but my heart was telling me to try. Becky loves music, and I wanted so much to make her happy, so I took the floor with her just as the announcer declared, “This dance is a bit more complicated, so listen up!”

As the music began, my sweat began to flow. I turned when I should have bowed; I bowed when I should have been swinging. Mostly, I was terrified when I should have been laughing.

It felt as if I were Charlie Brown trying to dance with the Whirling Dervishes over the hysterical laughter of the little red-haired girl.

More precisely, I felt like I was in seventh-grade band tryouts. Five minutes later, my wife found me huddled around the punch bowl with the other rhythmically challenged.

“I wish you’d try,” she pleaded. But, determined to miss this dance, I said nothing.

If you think I’m spiritual all the time, you’ve only read a few of my columns. The truth is there are times when we all choose to disengage with life and refuse to learn any new dances.

So what causes us to miss the “dance”?

At least two things.

First, I think we get hung up on the rules of the dance instead of focusing on who accompanied us to the dance. Becky was my dance partner, and she didn’t care so much how I was dancing as she cared about being with me.

It’s like that with God, too. God wants to be with us. He doesn’t want us to get hung up on man-made rules about knowing God. These rules will only become like dueling instruments demanding “first chair” in our hearts.

Second, it is important to select a good director to synchronize our rhythms. Rhythm always is set by the person calling the dance. That’s why spirituality is so vital to life. It’s often the conductor of our life’s rhythm.

I’m sorry to say I never danced that night with my wife. But fortunately, I have a forgiving wife who, like God, will always hold open the next dance.

Burkes is a civilian hospital chaplain and an Air National Guard chaplain. E-mail norris@thechaplain.net or visit www.thechaplain.net.