In which Katherine has an epiphany on Epiphany [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post was actually inspired by a post I wrote for Deeper Story called Incarnation. As soon as I read it, I loved it. And I totally want to go to one of these dance parties. – S.

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.

Katherine Willis Pershey [] is an ordained minister, mother, and the author of Any Day a Beautiful Change: A Story of Faith and Family, forthcoming from Chalice Press this month. 

  • Leigh Kramer

    Katherine, you’ve done it once again! I love everything about this. Your joy leaped off the screen. This is how I feel whenever I have a Living Room Dance Party, even if I’m the only one dancing.

  • Leanne Penny

    I love it!  I’m convinced that dancing is a physical expression of your inward self.  Glad you got down with your girl gals!  I am a terrible dancer and my husband is a classically trained ballroom dancer, so I usually keep my moves private, but my kids love to dance because they see my joy flowing out through my clumsy moves.  

  • pastordt

    I cannot dance in any way shape or form, but I loved this post. And yes indeed – using our bodies begins to instill in us the wondrous truth of incarnation in ways that sitting still cannot. Many blessings on your ministry, your family and you as you seek to help others experience this kind of joyful embodied faith.

  • Suzie Lind

    Katherine, just about everything I read from you makes me smile… but this… goes down in history.  Epic history. I love it and it makes me wish even MORE we hung out more while you lived here so we could have done some booty shaking together.  

  • Dleepender

    Katherine, your eloquent words of inspiration are a beautiful expression of your faith.  Thank you for sharing.  I too find it spiritual when I dance, however could never express the experience in words the way you can.  Thank you for your talents and all that you do!