As part of my healthy-ish lifestyle, I try to fit some excercise into each day. Running and hiking are my favorite activities, but when it’s too dark or hot or I’m far from good trails, I like to do the next-best thing: Zumba.
Zumba began as a Latin dance workout, where instructors lead simple routines to fun music. I love it because it’s a great way to workout while feeling like you’re just dancing in Da Club (if the club encouraged precise group choreography). Recently it’s gained tons of popularity in the US, so it’s easy to YouTube a Zumba routine for practically any song and do it at home.
Last night, we celebrated the end of the academic term in Florence with a final banquet on a rooftop overlooking the city skyline. As the sun set and the sky darkened, I realized it had become too late to go for my usual run through Cascine Park.
So after returning home and changing from my dress into workout gear, I brought my laptop to the bottom floor of the Pepperdine Villa for a late-night Zumba party. My usual spot was occupied by other students, so I set out to find a vacant classroom. Privacy was key; as much as I love shaking my booty in front of a laptop screen, I certainly don’t need an audience for it.
After trying a couple locked doors, I found one that opened effortlessly. Expecting another classroom, I was pleasantly surprised to walk in and discover a lovely little prayer chapel!
For a minute, I debated whether it would be…appropriate? Decorous? To dance to Shakira and Justin Timberlake songs in such a space. After all, I would never do Zumba in the chapel at Mariners Church or in Stauffer Chapel at Pepperdine. People get married in those places. People light candles in memory of loved ones, read scripture, and sing hymns. It’s not a place for shimmies and step-touches…
This weekend I had another interesting experience in a chapel. My friend and I took a day trip to Milan on Saturday. Our tickets allowed for only about seven hours in the city, so we were determined to make the most of our time. First on our agenda was seeing the Duomo di Milano (or Milan Cathedral), famous for its intricate white spires and its colossal size.
Aiming for maximum efficiency, I held my place in the entry line while my friend got in line to buy tickets. As I approached the entryway, however, I became aware of a potential problem: I was wearing a tank top and a short skirt; perfect for a balmy summer day, but strictly prohibited by the cathedral’s policies.
Fortunately, my problem had an easy solution: I bought a 2-euro scarf, which was large enough to drape in a way that concealed my shoulders and knees at the same time. Sure, holding my purse became awkward with this garment, and taking photos was nearly impossible, but at least I was…covered?
The same people who think God is horrified by the sight of a woman’s bare shoulder would probably faint after seeing me do Zumba inside a chapel. In their minds, there’s a clear dividing line between holy and depraved, spiritual and secular.
Here’s what the Bible says:
The God who created the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, because it is He who gives to all people life and breath and all things. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ – Acts 17:24-28
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
God’s presence isn’t restricted to temples or cathedrals. His Spirit resides in us all the time, whether we’re eating or drinking or dancing or climbing 436 steps or having sex or wearing a parka or wearing nothing. So whatever you’re doing, you have the opportunity to glorify Him!
I’m almost certain there will be Zumba parties in Heaven, and I don’t think there will be dress codes for entering the pearly gates (although my new scarf is so fun, I might keep wearing it anyway!). While I cannot change much about legalism in the Church now–unless I somehow gain control of the Duomo di Milano, which would be awesome–I can encourage you to question the boundaries we set between holy and secular.
Jesus is in the business of transforming our entire lives, not just the parts that occur within the walls of a church. Let’s dance our way through!