Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Evening Dance

Every night my husband and I practice a dance. It's not ballroom dance or anything so elegant as that. It's the dance of getting our children in bed and our nightly ritual started. It's the dance where we sway back and forth, one doing this task and the other the next. The dance where sometimes we both try to lead at the same time and someone gets their toes stepped on. It's a dance that we seem to get better at over the years although from day to day it seems we are just muddling through. We learn by repetition. Doing the same thing over and over every single night. Tucking our babies in safe and protected and loved seems to be a routine that teaches us as much as it means to them. 

We're both tired by then. Me from working with them and the house and anything else all day and him from work and transitioning home. Children are amazingly exhausting. Some days bedtime can't come soon enough and other days we put it off drinking in the joy that small children can exhibit over the smallest thing. 

The best part of the dance comes when we hit our groove. When we each give all instead of holding back because we're tired and we've done it before a million times. The best part is when we both help the other person even if it's the things we prefer not to do. We dance this beautiful routine that others might never notice, not to impress but to serve. The dance of sacrifice, of dying to self. The dance that does all the work some nights because he's still at work or I'm sick. The dance that reminds the partner at home that someone is missing. It's a repeat of all that marriage means in just a brief half hour. 

It's the repeat: the daily done over and over in small ways, in consecrated ways. It's the touch of the hand to the back when you squeeze by each other in the bathroom. It's the question of what they've read that day that they want to discuss and then the eye roll because no one can actually hear over the water and the play and the childish conversations carried on at full volume. It's the promise of being alone in just a few minutes in peace and quiet. It's the prayer for patience for yourself and the other for the time needed to put them in bed. 

Jesus is in this dance, this daily melding of a marriage. It takes more than our hearts contain to learn these steps. This making of two souls into one seems best formed when doing the repeated work. Dates and trips and getaways are nice but they can't sustain the weight of life. Only the giving of self to another in the moments of work and frustration can do that. The moments of not repeating the petty annoyances because it will only burden the other person. The moments of seeing the need and filling it even though you would rather be served. 

That dance builds a marriage, little by little, every day.  We get to practice it every night. 

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