Just a quick one today.
Last night, our parish held a dinner and bush dance. (For my American readers, bush dancing is derived from Irish and Scottish folk dancing and is similar to line or square dancing.) I wasn’t one of the organisers of this event but, once I found out about it, I eagerly got involved, helping to sell tickets and promote it.
Apart from the fact that I love dancing, I was eager to help run this event because I felt it tied in very closely with my own concerns about our lack of community within the Church. I’ve mentioned before that several older gentlemen responded to my article by lamenting the lack of social dances and other wholesome activities that used to help form parish life. As such, I was really excited when I saw this event was taking place, simply at the suggestion of one of my fellow parishioners.
It was such a great night! About 200-300 people turned up, and what I loved most was the wide range of ages present. There were infants, the elderly, and everyone in between. The kids absolutely loved the dancing (whether they understood the steps or not) while many of the older men and women looked on or caught up with friends around the edges of the dance floor. There were lots of big families present and everyone seemed to have a really good time.
What I was most struck by was just how normal it all was! Even though I never lived in a pre-fragmented Church, before seismic shifts in the Church and the wider world ruptured the state of play and parish life stopped being one’s major social scene, it all seemed so incredibly normal to me! Perhaps not ‘normal’ in the sense of what I was used to, but ‘normal’ in the sense of how things should be.
I felt this intuitively. No age-segregation, no exclusivity, no by-interest-only setup (not that there isn’t a place for each of these things as well); just wholesome, innocent fun.
And even though we Christians are being besieged by the radical left, even though we’re beset by spiritual fatigue, and even though it often seems like the world is going to hell in a hand basket – for just a few hours last night, normality reigned supreme.
I just wish this were more common. I was this were the norm. There were lots of people from my parish there, but also plenty who weren’t. It was so heartwarming to see everyone, of different ages and from different parishes, coming together to eat, drink and be merry.
I really encourage you to think about doing something like this in your own church community. It doesn’t have to be a social dance, but any kind of activity that brings people together as a community, either in your own parish or across several, or perhaps in the religious community you’re a part of (although I do encourage people who belong to spiritual groups to branch out and connect with other Christians who might not be part of your regular social sphere). It could be a sports match, a miniature-Olympics, a big picnic or even a board games night.
The onus really is on us laymen to help revivify our communities, which have been drastically fragmented over the past few decades. There are so few of us practising Christians left, it’s never been more important to connect with each other. And if you can do this while having lots of good old-fashioned fun, what more can you ask for?