Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

The Risks of Liturgical Dance

For the December 13 service we had two offerings by the Sarah Bush Dance Project, from the SF Bay Area.  Sarah is a friend of mine, and the Project had appeared in a performance in town the night before.   I returned on a flight from Boston in time for intermission.  I was happy to host her and two of her young dancers on Saturday night, though I was jet-lagged and couldn’t wait up for them, and I left for church as Michael and Chelsea snoozed in my living room. Somehow they rose and transformed themselves (or at least brushed their teeth) in time for two beautiful dances at both services.

We have a stage behind our pulpit (which is on the main floor), so everyone could see them.  They danced before the kids left for Sunday School and then again before the sermon, as a Mary Oliver poem was read aloud.  Very moving and lovely.  They stood at the door to greet departing worshipers, so I heard lots of words of appreciation.  They said they’d love to come back.  My senior colleague and I would love to find a way to pay them to dance for us again.

It was raining as the second service began, but Michael and Chelsea had to walk outside from the stage area to the front lobby of the building so they could walk through the congregation and meet Sarah on stage.  She told them to wear their shoes out and leave them in the lobby.  After their dances in the second service, she offered to go outside and around to get their shoes.  She didn’t see any shoes.  She asked them:  Are you sure you left them in the lobby?  Yes, they answered, next to the donation boxes.  Uh-oh!

In December we have a few large, shoulder-height cardboard boxes decorated and marked with signs like food, clothing, personal supplies.  There’s also a red grocery cart there–year-round–for donations.  Someone had picked up the shoes and put them in the cart.  Then Arnie, our long-time member whose volunteer ministry is focused on social justice and service, came in and loaded his car with all the morning’s donated items–the unintentional ones as well as the intentional ones–and headed for the recipient organization.  By the time the administrator had tracked him down by cell phone, he was nearly at the destination.   The dancers hopped in their cars and made a shoe rendezvous with Arnie.  Thank goodness–we hadn’t paid them enough to cover a new pair of shoes!


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