Saturday, September 26, 2015

There should be more dancing

A friend threw a ceilidh for her birthday. She organised a band and a caller, and a big hall, and food and drink, and a heap of friends. The music started, the caller called, and many people danced. It took me a while to warm up. I had a few glasses of champagne, and chatted with a dozen people. But finally my daughter dragged me in and I danced, and I remembered. I remembered going to barn dances when I was a kid; clubbing in my early twenties; and dancing at school trivia nights in my thirties (sad, I know). I remembered a friend’s wedding, and dancing in red heels until it was well past time to carry sleepy children home. I love to dance around my kitchen, but I had forgotten how much fun it is to dance with other people.

We did the heel-and-toe polka, a square dance, and a reel or two. By the end of the night, adults were skipping and giggling and throwing each other around by the elbows as we shot up the reel, and the kids were almost getting good at it. On the way home, my daughters said, ‘We should do this every week,’ and I agreed. There should be more dancing.

Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a wedding banquet”. But I’m not convinced it’s like the stuffy middle class Anglo Christian wedding banquets I’ve had to attend, with lame speeches and bland food and dealcoholized wine. Jesus was Jewish, so I reckon that if heaven is like a wedding, it’s like a Jewish wedding. A friend once told me that one of the good things about being Jewish is that she had to learn to dance. At every wedding there is dancing, and absolutely everyone dances, young or old. Anyone who tries not to looks like an idiot. They are squashed against a wall as the party goes wild, until some old lady grabs them by the hand and drags them into the fray.

So, the kingdom of heaven is like a Jewish wedding. Or, perhaps, a ceilidh. At my friend’s party I watched balding men dance with their young daughters, and a two-year-old totter up the reel, and girls on the verge of puberty dancing with each other, and people in their sixties who couldn’t count to four and did every step wrong but kept dancing anyway. There were friends from other countries and friends with intellectual disabilities and straight people and gay people and country people and city people and Christians and atheists and a pagan priestess. Together these people laughed and danced and communicated across the boundaries of age and sex, culture and capability; and I saw the kingdom of heaven.

I look around the churches, so full of people who find it hard to dance. Like me at times, they sit against the wall and watch, but turn down invitations to participate. And I wonder whether we will enjoy the heavenly wedding banquet, and what we will say when Jesus puts out his hand and requests the pleasure of this dance.


  1. My Scottish granny used to say, if you did something nice for her like getting her a cup of tea, "I'll dance at your wedding." I really like that idea. I suppose it was a saying, and perhaps dancing is as integral to Scottish weddings as it is to Jewish ones. Or maybe it used to be. It took me a long time to get married and she was long departed, but we organised a band people could dance to.
    Earlier this year though, I suggested to my kids' school that a bushdance would be a Good Thing. Shawn Whelan from Brunswick Uniting was happy to help make it happen. But the Parents and Friends didn't think the kids would be interested. sigh.

    1. There are a few parents at my school who are thinking a ceilidh might be a fun fundraiser - fingers crossed we can get it off the ground!

      Even if not, at least one is thinking of having one for her 40th after hearing the description of this one! yay!


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