Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Right and Left (07/31/14)
TITLE: Come Dance with Me
By Carolyn Ancell
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Post-retirement, my husband and I had downsized and moved into a 55+ community. Eager to explore our new surroundings, I was trying out as many of the development's activities and clubs as I could. They were all wonderful. But this one was different. When I walked into the folk dance room, no one asked me where I had lived or what I had done before my arrival, or what was my religion or level of education. People simply took me by the hand and drew me into the circle. Connected, we moved and breathed and sang as one body.
I have returned to the group every week, and wonder at the power of our dancing together. In my wildest flights of fancy, I see all the world's peoples dancing together, and through their dancing learning to live in harmony with one another. I imagine our own feet heralding Isaiah's image of good news, peace and happiness.
Only a year ago, a group of on-duty Israeli soldiers, carrying their arms, was caught joining in a dance at a Palestinian wedding celebration. They were condemned and disciplined by their military officers. Yet some observers and commentators have wondered aloud if such behavior was perhaps praiseworthy, whether it put before our eyes a dream of an alternative to mistrust, fear, and hatred between warring factions.
In the summer of 1972, I visited my brother who was serving in the Coast Guard in Hawaii. Out walking one night, we came upon a Bon Festival, the annual Japanese Buddhist celebration to remember and honor ancestors and loved ones. A large group of people--from children to elders--circled to the accompaniment of a bamboo flute. As I stood watching, an old lady in the circle caught my eye. She came out, took my hand, and drew me into gentle movements of memory and gratitude. We did not speak each other's language, but she led me and taught me non-verbally until I caught the pattern and could effortlessly blend into the dance. The Bon Dance is my fondest memory of the whole Hawaiian trip.
In 2010, my husband and I drove our 5th wheel RV from Tucson, Arizona to Newfoundland and back. One day in Nova Scotia, we saw a sign for a Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) a traditional community dance to be held that night. We arrived, believing we were there "to watch," but were not allowed so much as a sit-down as we were dragged into jigs and reels, learning and laughter, and intimate sharing in a culture brand new to us and yet now viscerally part of us. At midnight, exhausted and exhilarated, we waved goodbye to those with whom we will now forever be connected at a level deeper than words.
It all makes me wonder. Five months out of each year, my husband and I travel in a 5th wheel RV, attending a different church every Sunday. In some places we worship, at the the beginning of the prayer that unites us all, the congregation moves together along and across aisles, joining hands as well as hearts. In others, we, the “one in Christ,” stand apart, isolated, disconnected, seemingly unwilling to join the dance whose song begins, “OUR Father ... .”
I wonder if we sometimes forget that we are not vaporous and isolated souls in accidental bodies but persons gifted with both spirit and body, called to worship the Lord with our whole being, individually and as a community united at a level deeper than words. Perhaps our hands and feet, as well as our voices, must witness the good news. Let us join the Dance!
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