Dancing in the Sanctuary

Our son and daughter-in-law have been worship leaders since they were married in 1999, and their vocation routinely involves rehearsals on Wednesday nights. 1 We often have the privilege of hanging out with their kids for part (or all) of these midweek evenings. One recent Wednesday night we had taken the older children, Ella and Zion (ages 6 and 8), to dinner, and were planning a quick drop-off to church where their mom and dad were preparing the band for next Sunday’s service. We were grateful that the night was still young, because we both had several things on our “must do” lists before hitting our pillows by midnight.

The chairs in the sanctuary had been put away for an event the day before, leaving a very large expanse of wide-open, carpeted space. Phoenix, 10 months old, had been with Mommy all afternoon and was now happily exploring what from his vantage point looked like a five-acre field. The band was rockin’ out on the stage, and so Teri picked him up and started whirling around the room. Paul found a mini-Frisbee and started playing catch with Ella and Zion. The praise music provided a joyous accompaniment as we danced and played and ran around that big room, on and on into the evening.

We were on holy ground. The drop-off had turned into an unexpected, wonderful, serendipitous, shimmering moment with those precious children. When would we next have an opportunity to play with our three grandkids in an unobstructed huge space like this — and with a live worship band to boot?

No one appreciates the wonderful possibility of the present – this moment, right now — like a protected, well-loved child. Anyplace, including the church sanctuary, can become a playground; joy might be found suddenly just around the next corner. The expectation of imminent pleasure is the operating belief of innocence. Children raised in love and safety have a great capacity for appreciating what goodness can be found in this all too sad world. For busy adults, the opportunities to drink from that well usually show up when we least expect them, and are so easily lost as we push our way through the daily stuff.

There have been a number of times when we have had a pile of urgent whatevers on our desks, but chose to seize a moment that involved time with people we love. Without exception, we can recall vividly the backyard ball game, the spontaneous Uno tournament, the shared sunset – or in this case, dancing in the sanctuary – long after we had forgotten the urgent whatevers.

Whenever we speak about marriage we usually mention the threat of the marginless, hurried lifestyle – something we know way too much about. One antidote we often propose is subjecting any potential new commitment to the “end of life” test: When I’m on my deathbed, will I care about all of those commitments/diplomas/achievements/piles of stuff that filled my days and nights, or my relationships with people – especially those who were closest to me? We have no idea what was on our list of tasks that just had to get done that Wednesday night, but we will never forget the sparkle in our grandkids’ eyes, and the peals of laughter, that arose from that spontaneous experience.

Teri was raised with the belief that dancing was a tool of the devil. That night, it was a direct glimpse into heaven.

P.S. We are going to be featured on two Focus on the Family Broadcasts, in a conversation entitled “Navigating Tears, Tantrums and Toddlers.” These will air on Friday May 18 and Monday May 21, and may be heard online at any time on or after those dates by clicking here.

©Paul and Teri Reisser, 2012.

Paul Reisser is a family physician who has been in private practice for more than three decades. He has served as the primary author of Focus on the Family’s Complete Guide to Baby and Child Care and Complete Guide to Family Health, Nutrition and Fitness. Teri Reisser is a marriage and family therapist and author of A Solitary Sorrow, which deals with the emotional fallout of abortion. Together Paul and Teri have recently written Your Spouse Isn’t the Person You Married.


1 For the record, we can state without reservation that they are very good at what they do.

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3 Comments

  1. K
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Funny how I’ve been talking to Teri about this very thing. Oh, how my heart aches to dance and sing with my very own baby in my arms.

  2. Deva
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Love this.

  3. Chris
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Sounds like you guys had a great time. See you soon!

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