Mennonite prohibitions included dancing, television, and movies. When my gym teacher taught a class unit on dancing, I had to turn in a note sent by my mother excusing me for religious reasons. Those classes spent with one other lonely Mennonite classmate on the wooden bleachers were some of the longest fifty minutes in high school for me.
–from “Courtship and the Farmer’s Daughter,” Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World
The wedding we attended recently in Lancaster County was not only festive, it was a reminder that things have changed a lot since 1962 when I was not allowed to participate in even the mildest form of dancing — square dancing.
Today, many (but not all) of the formerly “plain” groups –Lancaster Conference Mennonites and the Church of the Brethren — have loosened restrictions. For many of us oldsters, the change came too late to create graceful moves on the dance floor, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy.
My 86 year-old-mother Barbara Ann Hess Hershey Becker came to the wedding with a sparkle in her eye, knowing there would be dancing. When the time came, my brother, nephew and I led her to the dance floor. I think you can tell by looking at this short clip who was having the most fun.
The bride and groom picked lots of great country music and danced into their reception to lots of clapping to John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”
At about 18 seconds you will see my grandson Owen, age two, busting a move. Maybe he will eventually become a graceful dancer.
In the meantime, as my father would say, “If you can’t sing, make a joyful noise.” So if you can’t dance, make a joyful move. Hey, that we can do!
My new beginning today is to fly to Phoenix to join thousands of other Mennonites in our biannual conference. I will be hanging out at the Menno Media bookstore and hope to see some of you there.
Here’s another reminder to register your new beginning.