Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dancing My Way Back To Living

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus, or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I shout hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine. I can only imagine.
Bart Millard (performed by Mercy Me)

I've always loved dancing.

Maybe not dancing so much as moving to music. From the time I was small I liked to dance with no reason.

Dancing always felt like celebration. It was a celebration of life, of being able to move and hear the music and feel it in my bones. I'm pretty sure that heaven is full of that kind of celebratory dancing where you just cannot be still because you feel so good.

Despite my strong Southern Baptist (which we of a certain age or older all know means dancing is a sin, nevermind that they did it in the Bible) upbringing, I grew up dancing. Whether it was square dancing at school, flatfooting with a local band, clubbing on my own (I never managed to pair up with a dancer), a few rounds of belly dancing classes, or dancing around the living room with or without a toddler on my hip, I've never stopped dancing.

It's not always about celebration any more, but sometimes it's about sanity. When I'm silently counting out the steps to a dance choreography, there isn't room for much else in my head. When I manage to remember the steps, it brings a spontaneous smile. If I think of Ethan during class, I have to push the thoughts away or lose my place. There's no time for grief or worry or planning or anything else but keeping time and moving.

I can't remember now when I first started Zumba, although I know it was my friend's enthusiasm and the fact that she had opened a studio of her own that got me going. Nowadays a week without one or two classes is a hard week to get through.

The women who lead my classes and my classmates at Move2Melt, many of whom I don't even know by name, are a different kind of support group. They're a warm smile and how are you and sometimes a hug. They were faces far from home that showed up, along with a few members of my church and two of my doggy family, at Ethan's funeral. During the last month they have repeatedly blown me away with their love and caring and made me feel far less isolated than my circumstances force me to be on a day to day basis.

Every chance I get, they're also a mental and physical escape from my house where the walls threaten to close in completely and from my mind where, left untended, my thoughts wander to dangerous ground.

The day after Ethan was found dead, I went to a Zumba class. I couldn't stand sitting at home feeling like I was turning into a shell of myself. At least there, part of the time, I could concentrate on where to put my feet instead of what had happened to my son. It was a thin lifeline, but it helped pull me through. As soon as the holiday hiatus was over, I was back for the first class and have been going to classes two days a week since as my schedule and the weather allow.

And although it isn't always about celebration any more, sometimes it still is.

Sometimes I'm celebrating being able to get out of the house and move when so much conspires to keep me weighted down by a blanket of grief. Sometimes I'm celebrating that even though I was never an athlete, I keep up with the high intensity moves of an hour long dance class, often after a 45-minute PiYo class. Sometimes I'm celebrating that dancing still feels good, whether I get the steps right or not.

Right now dancing is a lot like life for me.

I have to keep moving, even if I get the steps wrong.

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