Sunday, December 9, 2007


Last night, Göran and I attended his law firm's holiday party.

Göran is always the life of the party at these events. He's an amazing dancer, and so there's usually a line of women wanting to have a turn dancing with him. At my sister's big fat Greek wedding, all the Greek grannies were begging him to give them dance lessons. Last night was no different. At one point, everyone on the dance floor just stopped to stare at his performance. At the end of the number, they all burst into applause, including the band!

I on the other hand have the proverbial two left feet. I've always been kind of physically awkward. Learning to dance was painful to me as a youth, despite the special, personal lessons I got from a Young Women's leader who took pity on me. I basically learned to dance because it was a social requirement of Mormon youth. My only "B" at BYU (dragged my GPA to 3.98, darn it!) was the ballroom dance class I took.

After I came out of the closet, I took more of an interest in dance as a way to get to meet guys. For a while, I had a crush on a guy I used to go to Country Western night with. (After he and I stopped dating, I promptly forgot how to two-step.) The first thing Göran and I ever shared together was a dance, at the Gay Nineties, a downtown Minneapolis gay bar. While we were "courting," we went out dancing about once a week. Once we moved in together, however, I lost interest in dancing. I'd found my man, no more need to dance. At the annual firm holiday parties, I usually indulged him for a couple of dances, and then tried to figure out how to convince him to go home as soon as possible.

But last night was different. When the dance music started, I felt a certain kind of itch. As usual, the women started lining up, taking Göran out to the dance floor. And I realized... I wanted that dance. Before long, to his surprise, I cut in, and he was all mine for the rest of the evening. We danced fast dances, slow dances. He was still the star, I was still the stumbling fool, but I was having fun. I couldn't get enough. Finally, he was the one who had to beg for a break, so he could go take pictures and mingle with some of his co-workers. But soon enough I was dragging him back out the dance floor again. We were there until 1:00 a.m., when the very last dance was played.

I realize something has shifted for me. I have found a new balance between body and spirit. It's not just that I don't drink alcohol or caffeine any more, which I've noticed helps me sleep better and leaves me with more energy. It's that I have begun to pay more attention to important boundaries in my life. I respect the intimacy between me and Göran by paying more attention to my thoughts and my sexuality. I have cultivated the habit of listening to the Spirit, which in turn has taught me to listen to people, to listen to Göran, and helped me be more in tune with his needs. And that has drawn us closer together. In regular Church attendance and prayer and scripture study, I have dwelt on and received witnesses of God's love for me, of the forgiveness of my sins, which in turn has given me patience and confidence and happiness, which in turn has turned me outward to others. I feel better than I have ever felt in my life before. And it makes me want to dance! It makes me feel incredibly lucky to be madly in love with (and to be loved by) one of the best dancers in the Twin Cities!

As we danced from Saturday night into early Sunday morning, I wondered for just a fleeting moment about the propriety of dancing on the Sabbath. I promise, it was just one fleeting moment, because as soon as the thought entered my mind, I thought of Brigham Young and the Saints dancing into the wee hours of the morning in the Nauvoo Temple. Dance at its best, at its holiest, is a magical interplay between body and spirit. It is where those two aspects of our eternal souls both rejoice at the same time. That is what it was for me, at any rate. I thought, I'm glad I'm a Mormon and not a Baptist! I'm glad I hold a faith in which all things are sacred to the Lord, where no laws are temporal, where perfect joy comes in the union of body and spirit forever and ever.

Fortunately, my ward meets in the afternoon, so Göran and I were both able to sleep in together. After rising, I enjoyed my morning routines with renewed appreciation. Prayer is a physical act of kneeling, bowing one's head, holding one's body still. Eating breakfast and taking a shower are spiritual acts of caring for the temple in which my spirit dwells. Putting on a shirt and tie and suit (which I don't wear to our "business casual" workplace!) helps me prepare mentally and physically to enter the sacred space of worship. So does bundling up and walking a mile and a half through the snowy cityscape, across unevenly shoveled sidewalks to the ward meeting house. There are half a dozen ward members I could call, who would gladly swing by to pick me up and give me a ride. But I need that thirty-five-minute walk in the morning. I need the prayer and preparation and peace that it affords me.

As I walked that walk, I remembered our dance. Body and spirit, perfect joy. I am blessed.


playasinmar said...

Joy perfects and absolute joy perfects absolutely.

Beck said...

Just remember that the Sabbath (according to me) starts when you go to bed on Saturday (or Sunday morning) and ends when you go to bed the next night. Of course, this philosophy / rationalization can turn into a justification for partying hearty all night (or in my case - working late into the wee morning hours)but for the most part it works... I don't like to be too rigid on these things.

Great post! You've lifted my spirits. Goran is a gem!

Bill McA said...

At least you had a YW leader who took pity on you. Was that in the Pittsford Ward? Since I didn't join the Church until I was almost 19, I was already a lost cause at dancing as a "single."

Holly said...

I love this story. I have always felt that dancing was a spiritual pursuit. What delightful proof of that you have offered here.

J G-W said...

Bill - Yes, that was the Pittsford Ward. I can't remember the name of the sister who helped me out. But I still remember some of the dance tips she gave me, to this day. In fact, I remembered some of them Saturday night as we were dancing at the firm holiday party!!

Holly - Thanks... Dance is only one example of the way embodied life can be profoundly spiritual.