The short drive from the elementary school isn’t enough to shake them free of the day, so when we walk into the kitchen where the heart of my mother work beats, I turn on some music and dance the baby to his high chair. Titus has never been given a dance party, so this is the day. Jude feels it, because he lives closest to the wind. Isaac’s worried forehead holds the tension, trying to keep it tightened and locked, but as he fiddles with the spelling pages and sits for hovering homework, he lets it lose.
Ian takes my hands and we twirl, and Jude never stops his feet, never doesn’t feel the wave in his back. I’m laughing, and the baby bobs his head, and certainly we were made for this: dancing, the party, a chance to break free from the heavy and shake out the day. We were made to celebrate together. Church, it’s another way we point to Heaven.
I was told that absolutely-not-under-any-circumstances would I ever be allowed to attend a party in high school, and I do agree that all the hunch punch in the little swimming pools in those country back yards were an indicator that the joy was being perverted there, but either way, I lied and found the parties anyway, and this is where I learned to laugh and to really dance. This is where I learned the I love you, mans and also where I felt rather enjoyable altogether.
Other than that, I attended church fellowship suppers, where some old woman never didn’t bring that “salad” with shredded carrots and raisins mixed up with mayonnaise. Oh, we did glory in the cream of chicken, that casserole with crumbled Ritz crackers on top. It baked with a stick of butter crisping everything up. Glory! We got two plates, one for casseroles and one for desserts, and somehow there we could pile the dessert plate stem to stern, as high as we could balance, with every number of homemade pies and cookies.
I see the metaphor here, too, as perverted as it also is. They’ll be feasting in glory, but I’m certain it’ll be organic food (with maybe a tiny side of that awesome casserole), and I’m betting, too, the table won’t feel full of a bunch of strangers sitting on secrets, asking “How bout them Hogs.”
My local community, my church, has taught me something that I needed, something that I need to pass to my children. They’ve taught me how to party.
We’ve laid our eyes together on death and sat in low-down brokenness. Often when we gather, there are tears, a fierce drive to work out salvation even when nothing makes sense. There are mornings we wake well before dawn to do begging on each others’ behalf. It’s serious, how we share the burden.
But along side the burden, they’ve taught me the art of joy, how to pour wine in a mason jar and relax. Lindi has made me look forward to laughter. When I imagine heaven, I see Lindi across the table giggling.
When David and Kalli were married, we had prayed for them, and we did so much working it out with them that I bawled her entire gorgeous way down the aisle. Jospeh actually married them. His girls had tossed petals brilliantly. It was a family affair for us all, and we were there to dig our heels in deep for David and Kalli.
Afterward we served the food to guests and used fairly moderate portions on paper plates. Kalli tossed the bouquet and David the garter, and then the music started. There was no alcohol, but the music started, and I felt like dancing harder than I had in a long time. I believe they even played Justin Bieber, but we danced anyway to all that young music. Glory! We threw our heads back laughing and twirled our hips around. We shook it lose, because the party is meant for the church.
My church has taught me that the body was made for taking a few breaks, meant to live out the metaphor in full, stomp the weight of world into the ground. There’s joy at the table, we leaning back on our elbows, free to cackle, eyes expectantly on Jesus as He pours the free cup.
Post and Images by Amber C Haines