I spent Saturday evening at a Barn Dance organised through the Community Choir. It is a long time since I last was so energetically engaged in dancing. It was enjoyable, friendly and communal.
I wonder about using dance as a metaphor for some of the other events this week.
The meeting of Churches Together is like a rather formal dance, the agenda follows the same pattern each time, with the same participants pretty much making most contributions. We did have a guest, the Area Organiser for Christian Aid, who came to encourage us to find a replacement for the local representative who had died a few weeks earlier. He performed a well rehearsed solo, with practiced steps and smooth delivery.
At the Meeting for Worship for Business on Sunday, there was a lot more dramatic tension, perhaps more akin to the March of Knights in Romeo and Juliet – confrontation rather than coordination.
In my studies the story of Quakers in Government in the young colony of Pennsylvania was another long dance of rivalries and differences of conviction of how to live out a testimony to peace, in a period ravaged by several wars. Some left the dance floor unable to continue with integrity.
And in the exploration of religious freedom there was another example of two partners circling each other with more wariness than trust. How do State and Religion co-exist? Can they waltz together? Who takes the lead? And is this a dance where there may be a change of partners?
Dancing is a magical combination of freedom of movement combined with a partnership with others. In several dances we ‘progressed’ from one partner to another. Subtle adjustments had to be made to accommodate differences in physique and temperament in the new partners. Some are happy to engage in a swing with verve, others are much more gentle. In a few of the square dances the intricate interweaving of dancers was too complicated for some to follow, though generally we did very well, with the help of the ‘caller’.
Living out our values and faith is like dancing. We have to make our own moves, but we do so in the company and partnership of others. If it works well we all enjoy the experience. But the success depends on listening to the music and co-ordinating our efforts. If we stop co-operating or make a false move it can all go wrong!
Some of the dances were in small groups, four couples for example. But others involved the whole company and the experience of belonging to that wider community gave a different and greater sense of unity.
“Dance then, wherever you may be.”
(Words of Sydney Carter, Quaker, follow this link to learn more of what dance meant to him. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2004/mar/17/guardianobituaries.religion?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other