Dancing for My Life, Part 2

Continued from yesterday.

elegant-barn-decorating-ideas-with-barn-dance-decoration-ideas-10Traditional dance is, by modern standards, inherently misogynistic. The man leads, in most basic arrangements, by stepping forward. The woman must step back to make room for him. In some dances, the couple maintains a squared frame with their arms, so the woman can sense when the man is going to turn her, or shift direction. In others, like swing, they hold hands, and he alternately sends her away and tugs her back again, or pulls her into his embrace to send her twirling outward.

They’re at odds with the mood of the age, but the dances we’re learning are certainly less misogynistic than what passes for dancing these days. Gulya will never instruct Maggie to bend over and twerk while I pretend to spank her.

Still, I suppose we could follow in the steps of feminists trying to strike a blow for equality by having their male ballroom partners learn the traditionally female, back-stepping role. I wish them well, but I’m having a tough enough time learning one set of steps per dance.

And no matter who’s stepping forward, you can’t escape the fact that someone has to lead. You can learn a thing or two about marriage when you’re dancing. Like how frustrating it is for the other person when you don’t signal your intention. How you can walk your partner directly into a curtain, or a chair (I’ve done both) if you’re indecisive about when to pull her into the ninety-degree sidestep that allows you to turn a corner during a waltz. That if you keep not deciding, your partner will start deciding for you. [Read more...]

Dancing for My Life, Part 1

barn-wedding-dance-area“ONE two three, LONG short short—don’t step on her!”

Gulya is my dance instructor. She’s from Azerbaijan, she’s five feet tall, and I’m afraid of her. Gulya, too, is afraid. She fears I will stomp my wife’s toes. I’m wearing boots, because we are a month away from a wedding on a California ranch, where real cowboys will be dancing real cowboy dances. Faced with this prospect, I realized several weeks ago that my choices are:

1) Ask my beautiful wife to sit beside me in a gorgeously decorated barn and watch everyone else dance the night away;

2) Sit by myself in said barn and watch my wife dance the night away with cowboys;

3) Learn how to dance.

In other words, I have no choice. [Read more...]

Prayers in the River

9186219783_2c482b06e7_mI stand hip-deep in a river, casting into the eddies. I am not the kind of man who routinely stands hip-deep in anything, but the kids are still asleep, and I need to pray somewhere—God knows—so here I stand. The water is frigid and it soothes my feet, sore from stumbling over stones to rescue my lure. All I’ve caught in this damned river are rocks.

I’m here mostly to pray and because I want to fish in peace. Lord Jesus Christ—cast—son of God—lock—have mercy on me—reel, reel, reel—a sinner. In his last scene in The Godfather II, Fredo tells Michael Corleone’s son his fish-catching secret is to say a “Hail Mary” when he casts. Maybe that works for Catholics; this Orthodox Jesus Prayer is getting me nothing. [Read more...]

The Two Lists

imageSeven-year old Isaiah found a small desk in the back of our garage and claimed it. “I want to paint it red,” he said. So we prepped it with a hand-sander, and I bought him a can of paint. Familiar with Tom Sawyer and being no fool, he recruited two of his brothers. Determined to let this be Isaiah’s project, I left them to their labor. Soon the desk was drying in the sun, and I was preoccupied with cleaning brushes along with whatever boy flesh I could lay hold of long enough to scrub it with mineral spirits.

Isaiah returned to the scene of the crime to survey his work. It was a damned atrocity. Paint ran haphazardly against the grain, tacky pools of it collected on the surface, and thick rivulets had crawled down the sides and hardened.

“Look at it,” the boy said, his arms spread wide. “It’s beautiful!” [Read more...]

Jesus and Legos in the Deep, Part 2

Continued from yesterday

2432400623_9081e8433d_m“Judas the transgressor,” we Eastern Orthodox sing during Holy Friday Matins,“was unwilling to understand.” If the story of God’s salvation is light shining in darkness, then man’s tragic journey is a turning away from that light toward lesser lights, imagining the flickerings within himself to be something more than dim reflection, and hence capable of illuminating all creation, with rational man at its pinnacle. But whereas Descartes reasoned: “I think, therefore I am,” we sing: “Come, therefore, let us also go with him, purified in mind. Let us be crucified with him, and die through him.”

Regarding that mind, Paul exhorted the Christians in Rome to be transformed by the renewing of it, but unlike it is to us modern Westerners, the mind was to earlier Christians, much more than Descartes’s construal. It was (and is, and ever shall be) the nous, the eye of the soul. [Read more...]