We don’t dance in our house. And I miss it. Not that I was ever a “dancer.” I can’t follow choreography of any kind to save my life. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Jazzercize? Nope. I trip over my own feet trying to figure out whether that last move was to the right or to the left.
But when I was in junior high and high school, I went to school dances and I enjoyed moving around on the dance floor. I could do a few of the simpler dances of the day when the music was up-tempo, but slow dance? Now, that I could really do. I knew how to find the beat. I discovered I quite liked moving to that beat while being held by someone else.
There is something sweet and natural about moving slowly to music, held in the embrace of another. I can’t explain it; I just know it to be true. I didn’t date a lot, but the boys I did go out with all knew how to dance, some of them quite well. If the lead dancer is good, the weak dancer is home free. I quite enjoyed being home free.
I met my husband, God’s greatest gift to me, when I was a first-year college student. I loved his big brown eyes, his sincerity, his sense of humor and his commitment to his family. But he did not dance. And he was quite clear about that. Quite.
I didn’t get it. He was very coordinated, a gifted athlete. Why not at least try it? But my suggestion was met with a great big NO.
It took me a long to time to ferret out the reason why. He told me it that he never learned how to dance. His family and his church frowned on it, so he was never taught how to move to music. My parents came from a similar background, so neither of them knew a lot about dancing, either. Yet my mom wanted me to know how, so she asked our next-door neighbor to give me few simple lessons. That small gesture made it possible for me to jump over the gigantic hurdle of adolescent self-consciousness and go out there and try it.
No one ever did that for my husband. And the self-consciousness ran deep, deep, deep. He cared what other people thought about him. He knew he was a good athlete and he was unwilling to take the risk of trying something new to him, something physical that he might not excel at. A 4-letter jock all through high school, the embarrassment factor was simply too big a hurdle for this good man.
And it remained that way. After we were married I tried to convince him that dancing in the dark in our own living room would be easy. I thought he would enjoy it, and that the experience of moving while we held each other would convert him from fear to pleasure. It never happened.
To this day, I miss it. Sometimes I wonder why that’s true, and then I remember an old anthem we used to sing in my choral singing days. It’s called, “And the Father Will Dance,” written in 1983 by Mark Hayes. It has a lovely, minor key dance melody with lots of moving vocal parts and is based on Zephaniah 3:17. The translator for the text has taken the Hebrew verb for “rejoice” more literally than most (“to spin around with emotion”), and used the English word “dance” where most use, “sing.” That one little embellishment made both the text and the music come alive in me.
Zephaniah tells us that God loves us so much that he exults over us, he sings over us, he dances over us with deep waves of joy. When I first sang those words, something in me resonated with this deep truth: dancing is one of the purest and most divine ways to express our joy, especially as we find joy in another.
And that’s what I miss. I miss being held, moving as one to the music. I miss the touch, the embrace, the movement, the shared experience of satisfaction and refreshment. I miss the utterly unique way in which a dance can deliver a shared sense of joy unlike any other experience I can think of.
When I dream of heaven, sometimes I dream of a sweeping dance floor, covered with all kinds of people, holding on to one another and rejoicing as they move to the music. I think my husband will join me in that dance, don’t you?
(Here is a link to that old anthem, if you’re interested.)