Mama confessed and the Bible in Ecclesiastes 3:4 declared there’s “A time to dance.” In the Baptist churches where I grew up, dancing was forbidden. Like one of the deadly sins. You know, almost as serious an offense it should’ve been added to the Ten Commandments. Like Number 11:Thou shalt not dance. Some of you grew up this way and heard the rationale about what dancing could lead to. But with or without dancing, we figured out what IT led to and think God had a great idea.
And while I’ve written and told this story before, I no longer apologize for retelling anything. Like I tell my kids or Grands, as they roll their eyes, “Some things bear repeating.” Besides, it’s February. So welcome to February and second chances. It’s the month Mama confessed. Which was something she didn’t often do, as far as I knew. Not that she was sinless, she just preferred getting me to confess. And God knows I had a lot to fess up about. Still do.
Well, according to Mama’s confession, it happened on Valentine’s Day. Mama made a special dinner and baked a cherry pie. Daddy’s favorite. While some Baptists didn’t dance, we excelled in cooking and baking. And Mama was good at both. By now, their nest was empty. So they were free to do whatever they wanted to do. Of course, within the confines of Mama’s Baptist upbringing.
Now, Daddy, didn’t grow up Baptist or anything other than being Danish, a good dancer and lover of baseball. So it was a surprise to his family when Daddy, as a young adult, went to a meeting in Chicago where Paul Rader was preaching. The result? Daddy became the first Christian in his family. So at this point, any baggage was his doing.
And to some well-meaning Christians, that baggage included dancing, which he loved to do. Daddy was agile and light on his feet until he died at almost 80. But some well-intentioned churchy folks, informed Daddy of their versions of Thou Shalt Not. And dancing, while not set in stone, was forbiddden. So he quit. But he still danced on the inside.
So back to Valentine’s Day. After Mama lit the candles, she put on a record. You know those vinyl discs with a hole in the middle. And Mantovani’s orchestra began to play romantic music on thier Magnavox Hi-Fi record player. Besides our piano, it was our most prized possession. The TV came in third.
Then, after removing her apron(nothing more), Mama called Daddy to come and dine. He entered, bringing along the familiar scent of Mennen aftershave and a smile of things to come. He seated Mama, then prayed. I wasn’t there but I know the routine. However, after dinner and dessert ended, Mama stayed seated.
Now, usually Mama would’ve popped up and started cleaning. You know, cleanliness being right after godliness. Still Mama sat while Mantovani’s orchestra wove its spell. But Daddy stood, bowed to Mama, held out his hands and said, “Margaret, may I have this dance?” Mama said that inside she battled. All the dos and don’ts swirled in her head like the flurry of flakes when you shake a snowglobe For a long time Mama knew a dancer lived inside her, too, but she didn’t want to dishonor God or her parents. But over the years she slowly learned a distinction between man-made rules and God’s. So Mama was primed for change. So she stood and with Norwegian conviction said, “Yes!” This was a time to dance.
When Mama told the story to me, long before she wrote it, she explained her reasoning. She summed it up simply, “This has gone on long enough!” I love this story. It’s layered in love and hope that today can be different from yesterday. They each had reasons to resist change. To let unforgiveness and baggage pile between them like a barrier. But they danced.
And so I ask myself, “What’s gone on long enough?” Who needs forgiving? What do I need to let go of or take hold of to dance?
Love is risky.
Just ask Jesus.
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