By Rose Shepley
The #WholeMama Dances Through It
I have strong memories of both of my mothers dancing. My mama would dance around the HoneySuckle Rose, the bar she tended for most of my childhood. My step-mama danced around the house, and on a few occasions she danced on friends’ porches like she was dancing on a stage in front of the world.
My sisters and I took dance classes when we were little girls. We fell in love with Paula Abdul and watched her choreography videos until we could do every dance she did in the videos. We designed our own routines in the foyer of Granny and Papa’s house, and performed for our family in the living room. The more elaborate the routine, the prouder we were when we nailed it on execution.
Today, my whole life is a well choreographed dance. I dance with my husband as we parent our children, as we sort through the to’s and the wants and the not-today’s. I dance with my children and twirl them into showers, through schoolwork, over and under meals and games and silly conversations. Sometimes, most significantly, I dance with myself.
I’ve created the busiest schedule for myself. I went from just going to work and coming home and spending all of my weekend time with my family to hardly being home and feeling thankful for a sinus infection because it means I can legitimately take a sick day and be with my husband and children. I dance through the work day, and sometimes the dance is more magnificent to watch while other times the work dance more resembles a lazy shuffle. For my evening performance, I am partnered with my sweet Stella; we bop around homeschool assignments until the map is fully colored, the acrostic poem is written and decorated, and the spelling test is completed.
I dance into the seminary classrooms on Friday and Saturday, and I ChaCha with my colleagues, lifting up our theologies and leadership styles and one or another biblical character. On Sunday mornings I dance my way up the Appalachian Trail to a beautiful church in the Coal Region of Central Pennsylvania, where God and I Tango on the pulpit, sharing inspired visions with the small but loyal congregation. Somewhere in my weekend dance routine, I Salsa in the laundry room and shoulder bounce through the dishes piled up in the sink. If I’m lucky, I actually have music to dance to.
This elaborate dance routine is exciting, it’s fun, and it is rewarding in so many ways. But so much dancing is also exhausting. It is far less often that we truly nail it in execution, and more often that we stumble and fall on our faces. When we miss a beat or trip over our own two feet, it seems there is no excuse and no way to make it up to those depending on us to always hit every beat.
With the holiday season upon us, my family has taken a vow to say No to new dances and new dance partners. We have committed ourselves to enjoying the dances we are already choreographing together. We agreed to always applaud for each other, even when we don’t finish something or we do it less than perfectly just to get it done. We’re looking forward to more dances with Michael Jackson and less dancing with computers, paper deadlines, and unfounded expectations.
May we dance freely with our favorite artists this month. May we dance with our children and our partners and our loved ones. May we dance with our God who loves to dance. May we dance with pie and stuffing. May our souls stay on beat with the rhythm of the joy of our hearts. Amen.
Rose Shepley is a theologian, writer, advocate, and silly mother of two, wife of one living intentionally and with purpose in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
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