Hugh loved to dance. He was so free when he danced. He danced all day. For Hugh, life was one long dance. He loved being free, free to move his arms, free to leap, free to move slowly, free to move gracefully, free to move fast and wild. To Hugh, it just felt right. For Hugh, or to give him his full name, Hugh Manity, dancing was freedom itself. Oh how Hugh Manity loved to be free.
One day, during one of his favourite dance moves involving a wild flailing of the arms whilst leaping high into the air, Flesh approached him quietly. Flesh knew Hugh Manity very well. He had known him all his life and knew all his strengths and weaknesses.
“You look happy” He said. Hugh nodded and smiled and carried on flailing and leaping.
“Are you happy because you are free?” asked Flesh. Hugh nodded again and tried a leap with a twist in it.
“It’s good being free isn’t it?” said Flesh. Hugh nodded but a small frown had entered his forehead. He wanted to dance and was being distracted. Flesh noticed the frown.
“I’m annoying you aren’t I? Is it because I am interrupting you” He suggested. “I better stop interrupting you hadn’t I?” There was a pause.
“It’s rude to ignore people you know” Flesh turned and looked away. At this comment Hugh stopped dancing. He didn’t want to be rude. Hugh, stood with his hands on his hips and looked at Flesh. Flesh smiled and said “Thank you”.
Hugh returned to his dance, but chose a more graceful move this time. Flesh watched. “You know”, observed Flesh “I know someone who does that movement much better.”
Hugh tried harder and leaped higher and longer and waved his arms more wildly. “Oooh, I like that move.” Flesh said thoughtfully “I suppose being jealous of your betters can drive you to that, but you’ll never be as good as them.”
Hugh slowed down feeling disheartened. Flesh stepped closer to Hugh and puts his hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry though” he says “Someone will love you for your dancing… probably…maybe… who knows?”
Hugh’s dance slowed to a stop. His shoulders slumped and he looked down at his feet. Hugh Manity wanted to be loved. How could he be free if he wasn’t loved?
“Don’t be sad, I have an idea,” Flesh tried to encourage him and Hugh looked up hopefully “Let’s try some things that can improve your dancing. Things to make you feel better. Things to help you get your freedom back. You want to be free again don’t you?”
Hugh nodded earnestly. He wanted to be free.
Flesh handed over a hat. Hugh put it on. “This is a lucky hat,” said Flesh proudly “If you wear it you will come into great wealth, possibly. It’s worth a gamble isn’t it? Give it a try.” It was quite a heavy hat. It weighed him down a bit but it would be worth it for the money.
“The thing is wealth is great, it’s cool, and it sets you free.” Flesh advised. Hugh liked the idea of looking cool. He put it on and tilted the hat slightly to one side to look even cooler.
“Now try on these boots” Flesh handed over a large pair of boots. Hugh looked at them doubtfully. “Go on, try them. They will make you look beautiful when you dance. You want to be loved, don’t you? And to be loved you have to look beautiful. These boots are perfect for you. If you know you are beautiful you will be loved and then you can be free.”
Hugh wanted to be free, and he knew he had to be beautiful. He put them on and tried to move but they were cumbersome and he started to get frustrated at how they restricted his movement, his freedom.
As Hugh started to lose his patience Flesh gave him some gloves. “Now these are brilliant” he said “There are things out there you will want to touch, things that are important to set you free, but these things can make you feel bad when you touch them. If you wear these gloves you can’t feel bad because you aren’t actually touching it and you can be free in the important things you shouldn’t really touch – makes sense really!”
It didn’t make sense to Hugh but he didn’t like feeling so restricted and if there are things out there that can make him feel free again, even if they could make him feel bad, then he had better wear the gloves.
Hugh put them on. These too were heavy, but he didn’t care, he wondered what things he could touch with them.
“You look amazing, You have so many things that can set you free, you must be feeling so free!” urges Flesh.
Hugh wondered why he didn’t feel free when he had a hat to give him wealth, boots to make him beautiful and gloves to stop him feeling bad. He tried harder to dance but the hat, boots and gloves stopped him moving freely.
“Are you OK? Flesh asked.
Hugh put his thumbs up. He did not want to admit he couldn’t dance. He did not want to admit he was failing. He did not want to admit he didn’t feel free when he had so much. He started to think that maybe he should try something else.
“I have something else for you.”Said Flesh, “Something that will help you regain some of your old freedom” Flesh knew Hugh very well. He knew how he was feeling and wanted to help. Flesh gave Hugh a bottle to drink from. “This can also ease some of the pain you’re feeling from not being able to dance anymore.”
The words ‘not being able to dance anymore’ hit Hugh hard. He realised at that moment he couldn’t dance anymore. It hurt. He took a swig of the drink. He took another, then another, then he slumped to the ground. The pain was awful. He drank again and laid down and curled up in a ball, in pain. He wanted to be saved from this pain. He desperately wanted to dance. He desperately wanted to be free.
At this moment his heart reached out and he cried for help and a man walked up to Hugh. The mans’ name was Spirit.
“Hello” said Spirit. Hugh, still on the floor, looked up, waved and had another swig of the drink. Hugh hoped he can help.
Spirit turned to Flesh, “I heard his cry. Why is he in pain and not dancing in freedom?” He asked.
Flesh knew Spirit. He had met him before. “Hello Spirit” He said
Flesh knew Spirit would come when he heard the cry, although he hoped he wouldn’t as he wanted to do the helping. Spirit always came when he heard Hugh Manity call for help.
That’s Hugh Manity that is.” Said Flesh, awkwardly.
“I know who it is” Said Spirit. “Why is he not free?”
“He tried to be free.” Flesh replied.
“He needs help” said Spirit.
“I am helping him to be free. He is nearly there. I’ve got so many things that help. He doesn’t need your help”
“Did you give him these things?”
“I did. They will help him”
“Oh Flesh” Said Spirit both angry and sad at the same time.
“I’d like to see you try” Said Flesh in a sudden flash of temper. He didn’t like Spirit interfering.
Spirit knelt down beside Hugh Manity. “Hello Hugh” he said “I know who loves you. You are loved.”
Hugh opened his eyes. “Good he can hear me” thought Spirit.
“Do you remember when you danced free?” asked Spirit quietly.
Hugh nodded. “You didn’t have all these things then. Give them up”
Hugh put the bottle down and took off the gloves. He waved at Spirit who smiled back at him.
Flesh was at boiling point. “How is he going to be free if he gives all these things up?” he shouted.
Flesh was very angry and also absolutely dumbfounded at the suggestion of giving things up. “Don’t do it” he cried out. He glared at Spirit “You know Hugh Manity needs all these things to be free.”
Spirit gave Flesh a look. The type of look that makes Flesh crawl - and he did.
He turned back to Hugh and said “You don’t need these things to be loved. You don’t need them to be free.”
Hugh took his hands away from the bottle. Hugh had his gloves off already and Spirit asked “Why have you got these huge boots on?”
Flesh was whimpering in the corner “They make him look beautiful” Hugh smiled. He loved looking beautiful.
The One who loves you, did so before you had boots. Hugh Manity heard this and believed it. He removed the boots and wiggled his feet and toes. It felt good.
“I suppose he has to the hat off as well” snarled Flesh.
“You suppose right” smiled Spirit.
“Where is the hope going to come from now? Without the lucky hat he can’t have wealth, he can’t have anything good” Flesh was seeing red now.
“Oh Flesh you are so wrong.” Said Spirit “Hugh Manity take off all that is holding you back.”
Hugh obeyed. He knew it was right and he gave up all that Flesh had given him. Spirit reached out helped Hugh Manity to stand.
Flesh is now defeated.
Spirit explained to Hugh Manity “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Spirit pauses and declares with strength and love “And I will say this …When the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”
Hugh Manity heard and believed and danced again and is free.