The dance: Sometimes awkward, sometimes grace-full


    By Mark Thompson
    Special to The PREVIEW

    My youngest daughter mentioned casually a few weeks ago that the fifth-sixth grade dance was coming up.

    This is an event the PE class puts on every fall.  They learn 16 different numbers in class and the culminating activity is an evening dance for the kid in PE and a parent.  It is a wonderful idea; the students are engaged in the unit and it is a great time of bonding and fun for the parents who attend.

    Or so I’ve been told.

    I don’t dance.  This would be awkward, but with my three older children, my wife has always been there to bear the burden, carry the torch, cut a rug, whatever.  In this case, I assumed all would go as usual, until I found out Becky had a meeting … her precious meeting … her all-important meeting.

    “It’s okay”, I told myself, “you can manage a dance.  What is the worst that can happen?”

    I talked to my daughter, putting on my best face. “Mom can’t go, but fortunately I am free that night.  Besides, I don’t want anyone else but me taking my youngest daughter to her first dance.”

    She giggled.

    In my heart I decided I would go for it.  I would ignore all the anxiety from bad junior high experiences (aren’t they all?) and would choose to be abandoned and have fun with my kid.

    I immediately cast back in my mind to a similar dance-themed experience.  About 12 years ago, a friend of mine was arranging for some couples to take ballroom dancing lessons here in Pagosa.  I had the bright idea that since my wife and I were approaching our tenth anniversary, I would surprise her by taking my friend up on his offer and signing us up for the lessons; you know, keep the mystery in the marriage, let her know that we may have been married for 10 years, but I wasn’t done wooing, not by a long shot.

    “Why are you laughing?”, I said, “and please, it is undignified to lie on the floor in this grocery store.”

    Once I convinced her I wasn’t goofing and was ready to charm her in a whole new realm, the lessons started.  There is no need to dwell on the lessons.  It is enough to know that, the second week, Becky wore hard-toed shoes.

    But here is the deal:  Every once in a while, during a waltz, I would get it right.  I would look in her eyes, she would look in mine, and we would glide together.  Occasionally, she would begin to spin as I began to turn her and we would come back together, smoothly, suavely.  In fact, occasionally, we were … graceful.  It was as though I would begin a move and just by the glance of my eye, she knew where we were going, and would follow.

    It’s an idea David expressed in Psalm 32, a psalm of contemplation on the joy of forgiveness.  In verse 8, God is speaking: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”

    I like thinking about my relationship with God as a dance.  I know I am awkward, and miss lots of cues.  But on occasion, if I am really listening to the music and paying attention, God guides me with his eye, and I am … grace-full.

    By the way, on another note, and it is not really another note at all, because all of this life ties together, Becky and I had a wonderful tenth anniversary night of dining and dancing. And I can say with all truthfulness that I never had a better time dancing in a gym than I did the other day with my 11-year old daughter, at her first dance.

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