When I was a seminary student learning about the Christian liturgical year, I never imagined that one day the light I would behold on Epiphany – the day the church retells the story of those astrologer-kings who followed a star to Jesus – would be refracted by a disco ball. Neither did I foresee, when prayerfully considering the professional boundaries I would be trusted to maintain as a clergywoman, that I would ever have to make a split-second decision: should I or should I not join the other ladies from my church in a chair dance. (If you’re unfamiliar with chair dances, think burlesque. Please try not to think strip club.)
The chair dance was the grand finale of an exercise dance party I attended with some of the young moms from my church. Two of our members are aerobics instructors, and they had rented a ballroom to host the event.
More than one hundred women showed up. For ninety minutes we did our best to keep up with the nonstop choreography. To a deafening soundtrack of hip-hop and salsa music, we shook our bodies until we were drenched in sweat. We were women of all shapes and sizes. Some of us had rhythm and some of us – well, I could have sworn I had rhythm at some point, but it’s been since about the late 90s.
It was fun. It was healthy. And, without a doubt, it was sexy.
When I said we shook our bodies? I really meant we shook our booties. For much of the night, the booty-shaking was fairly tame. A more conservative Christian might have disapproved, but as for me and my brick house, it was all in good fun.
Indeed, it felt like a celebration of the incarnation; an act of gratitude for the gift of flesh.
Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”
My answer is yes. I do know this. And I felt it in my bones when I danced on Epiphany.
I couldn’t bring myself to sit the last dance out; it would have seemed like an act of unnecessary prudery, a rejection of embodied joy.
I don’t know if I really honored God with my body with my clumsy attempt a chair dance, but if, as Anne Lamott says, laughter is carbonated holiness, I certainly tried.