Together, Apart . . .

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One of the first country dances we learned was the popular Scottish dance called Gay Gordons. It’s a circle dance and a mixer, meaning that couples line up like spokes of a wheel around a circle with the men on the inside of the circle and their ladies standing beside them on the outside of the circle. Couples do one figure of the dance with their original partner, and then split up so that each partner then dances with a new partner.

With My Favorite Partner at the Spring Ball Back in May
With My Partner at the Spring Ball Back in May

This is a fun dance and one that is fairly simple to learn. We have often made it the last dance of a dance session because dancers can relax and do something that doesn’t take a lot of thinking — once you’ve learned it, that is.

I can hear the dance caller now as she calls the last steps before we change partners: “Together, apart, and on to the next.”

That simply means that while partners stand side by side, they hop toward one another and then away from one another while holding hands before the man twirls his partner under his arm, so that she can go back one partner and do everything she just did with her first partner with the partner behind her. As the dance continues, each lady continues to switch to the partner behind her until she has danced with all of the men — if the circle isn’t too large.

I have never typed these instructions before and they gave me a bit of a jolt when I typed them out. We live in a society where many couples dance together for a little while and then they split up to go dance with somebody else. Well, maybe that’s a topic for another day . . .

What I want to share with you today is broader than only husbands and wives. It involves our relationships with family members and friends, but could definitely apply to husbands and wives, too.

Twice lately people have brought up to me issues that keep family members apart, specifically what keeps parents and grown children apart. Both times the stated reasons were — you’re going to have a hard time believing this — pets!

In the first conversation, a friend told me about family members kept apart due to a person’s allergies in one state and a menagerie of beloved (and allergy producing) family pets in another state far away. In the second conversation, I asked a man about his only child who lives with her husband only a few hours from his home. He said, “We talk every week, but we don’t see each other much. Our dogs don’t get along.”

Frankly, both of these situations make me want to cry.

When we do the dance Gay Gordons, we make a conscious decision to hop together and then to hop apart. It doesn’t just happen. People make decisions to move their feet.

The same is true when families get together and when they stay apart. People are making conscious decisions. I used to try to get one of my older relatives to come to visit us at our home. She never came, because she didn’t want to make the two-hour trip. I would so have loved to have her visit. She’s gone to be with the Lord now. I look forward to visiting her mansion, but I am sorry that she never came to our house.

People decide how they spend their time, how they spend their money, whether they will forgive, whether they will be close. Sometimes people make conscious decisions to stay apart for very good reasons, such as when a family member is too dangerous to be around their children. Sometimes families stay apart because they are simply floating along and letting time pass. They don’t even realize they are making decisions, but they are nevertheless.

Children watch their parents and learn how to be people who make conscious decisions, rather than people who float through years of missed opportunities.

By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.
John 13:35

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