From my earliest memories, I have always been privileged to watch my parents enjoying dancing. In fact, one of the things that drew them together in the first place was their love of dancing. They were particularly good at it, even winning an informal competition at the City Ball. However, it was never their skill that warmed my heart – it was their sheer enjoyment of dancing. They seemed to dance in complete unity. The tiniest lead from my father, and my mom would know exactly what to do.
As a young child, Friday evenings were always great fun. My parents would invite some friends over, and before long, they would start dancing. This was either to old-fashioned records, or usually, a bit later in the evening, some of the more musical people would put a group together. If my dad was on the piano, he could not dance, but he also enjoyed playing.
I remember the security of being picked up by one of my parents and included in the joy and tenderness of their dance. As years went on, I was taught how to dance and how to follow, learning principles of trusting my partner’s lead, of being sensitive to his way. All these principles that could relate to life in so many ways would stand me in good stead.
As we grew, life got busier and their friends did not come over much on a Friday night to dance, but it did not stop us from dancing. Sitting around a fireplace late in the evening, often my dad would put some music on and my parents would dance. Inevitably, I joined in. Dance was included in day to day life. My father would dance my little sister to sleep as a young baby, night after night, something I treasured and did so very often with my own children.
As the years went on, my parents never lost their love of dancing. It was, however, in the last years of my mom’s life that the gift of the dance of love would impact my life in such a deep way. My mom had become so frail that, as much as she loved to dance, it was not really possible. No longer could my parents go out to dance. However, that did not stop them. My dad would put on some favorite songs. My mom would begin to tap her foot. Life sparkled in her eyes. But to dance would be too strenuous. My dad would go over to her, in that same familiar way that I had watched my whole life. “Come, my love,” he would say to her – sometimes with words, sometimes just with an outstretched hand and a gentle nod – but always with eyes of love. Gently, he would take my mom into his arms, and supporting her so tenderly, they would slowly dance around the room. At times she would put her feet on his as he held her. It could never last long, as her breath would begin to fail her, but the joy and love in that dance will live with me all the days of my life. It remains a treasured gift that my parents did not even know they were giving me, a gift of love they gave each other all their lives.
Each time I reflect on those tender moments, not only am I deeply moved by the precious memories, but also I am reminded of the wonderful Savior we love and serve.
There are times when our walk with Jesus is like a dance done by people unfamiliar with each other. We do not always trust the lead of our Lord Jesus and try doing our own thing. It is those times we get our toes stepped on (or stub them). There are those wonderful times when we follow His lead, and then together, we can move smoothly through life, filled with the sheer joy of dancing in the arms of Jesus. We follow the smallest prompt from the Lord and act on that. We know the joy of following and there is such beauty in the sheer intimacy of that. Then there are those times when things are really hard and it seems our strength fails us. We feel too frail to dance. It feels like all we can do is lean into the arms of our Lord, while He, fully supporting our entire being, dances us around the room of life: a dance of love.
God our Father gave us Jesus – our Lord, our Savior, the all-powerful, glorious, and majestic King. But He also gave us Jesus as the one who is our Leader, the One with whom we grow in intimacy, and the One into whose arms we can surrender with absolute security. Thank you, Father, for sending us your Son, Jesus Christ, with whom we can share “the dance of love.”