Bow to Begin

Dear One,

Each week I gather around a virtual kitchen table with women from the world over, and we talk about fairy tales. It’s magical!

The other week we were deep into a Japanese tale. All along her harrowing journey, the heroine of this story would bow and give thanks. Even in the fierce, even in the fear, she would bow in honor at whatever was before her.

Toward the end of the story, our heroine met a bear. A big burly, surly bear. 
The bear growled.
The heroine bowed.

And that was my moment of instruction. 

As we left the ‘kitchen table’ we each named one learning. Mine was this:
Bow, don’t growl.
Regardless of who or what is before me, I want my approach to be that of bowing, not growling. 

A day or two later, God continued this theme with a Square dance lesson.   
Friend, anything can instruct us if we’re listening, amen?

In a square dance, a ‘caller’ gives instructions, the very first of which is,
“Honor Your Partner.” And do you know how you do that? You bow!

This fascinated me. 

  • Before they enter the dance together, there is a bow. 
  • Before the interacting, a bow.
  • Before all the activity, a bow.

Honor Your Partner, God calls.
Bow to begin.
Bow to begin. Yes!!!

  • To bow is how I greet that which I am about to engage.
  • To bow is my approach to this day, this person, this activity, this work, this situation or circumstance.
  • To bow is to approach with reverence and honor and a healthy dose of respect. 

I want to bow, not growl. 

This approach deescalates both me and the person or project with whom I am about to engage. Were I to come into my day/meeting/work in attack mode with a grumbly growl (which I’m sorry to say I do have skills in!), the results are much different than a nice deep bow. Instead of enjoying the dance, we become a tangled, tripping mess. 

In this Covid-19 world when hugging and handshakes are considered dangerous activities, why not bow? In deference and preference why not bow? In honor and humility, respect, and reverence, why not bow?

“Honor one another.” Romans 12:10
Honor Your Partner. 
Bow to Begin: Our Little Life Words of the Week. 



  • How do you approach your day, your work, your people, your God?
  • Where do you find your approach to be that of growling vs. bowing?
  • What might change if you were to take one quick moment of reverent pause before engaging what/who is before you?


  • Before you begin (anything), bow. Internally if not externally. I now begin each day with a deep bow. Join me?
  • Hold a little square dance in your house. Honor your partner with a bow. 
  • If you have a *bear* in your life, set an internal intention to approach with a bow before engaging them. 



  • Consider beginning your prayer with borrowed words from Psalm 5:7: “I, by Your great love, come into Your House; in reverence, I bow down…”

Many times I’ve heard there’s only one thing we can really control in life, and that’s our attitude. But I think I may have stumbled onto one more (and who’s not looking for more things to control?!). I think we get to control our approach. Our approach – to people, projects, even pain. We can bow to begin. 

“So bow down under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 
1 Peter 5:7

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