The staff at St. Marys Magnolia Manor is all-creative when it comes to contriving mischief for the chaplain. They love to see me come in because they know that they will have someone to pick on. There is never a dull moment at St. Marys Magnolia Manor. The latest “thing” they have yoked me into is a dance called the Zumbah--pronounced Zuuumbahhhh.
It all began about three weeks ago. I had completed my Bible study and was headed out the front door when two spiffily garbed young ladies carrying what appeared to be musical equipment met me.
Pausing briefly to introduce myself, I learned that they were a dance team coming to lead an exercise dance program for the residents. They spotted my ID badge and the conversation picked up speed. “OOh, Mr. Chaplain we want to recruit you in our dance. We need your example and inspiration for the residents!”
“Don’t worry; we’ll teach you. That’s what we do.”
Shortly, our vivacious, fun-loving administrator Diane Feine appeared and joined the spirited conversation followed by receptionist Toni and activities director Lori. I was being overwhelmed. Wry smiles from Diane and Lori made red lights come on in my head. “Yall are just pulling my leg. Yall want to make me look stupid,” I told them.
“No, you’ll have fun,” Diane promised in a foxy tone. “I’m going to learn how to do the Zumbah, too.”
It was useless. I was snowed. “Okay. I’ll try it.”
“Great, you’ll have a lot of fun and love it,” replied one of the dancing girls.
I called BJ, who was not with me on this trip, and told her that I would be a little later than usual getting home.
“Why?” she quickly asked.
“I’m going dancing with some girls.”
“You whattt?!!” she came back.
Then, as best as I could, I brought her up to speed on what was going on. She was not bubbly with joy that I was “going dancing with some girls” and going to be late getting home. However, when I assured her that it was an exercise program for the residents, she relaxed a little.
I followed the entourage back to the chapel. In a few moments, my chapel had been rearranged into a dance floor.
In a jovial mood, the smiling residents began to gather. There was a lot of happy chitchat as the “chapel” was set up for the event.
I took a seat on the back row and settled in to observe the goings-on.
“Oh no! Not there!” One of the dancers said to me as she took my arm and escorted me to “center stage”. “We want you over here in costume.”
“Yes! You have to dress properly for this.”
Soon, they were robing me in some kind of party paraphernalia with jingle jangle bells hanging on it. The residents were having a ball at seeing their chaplain dressed in Mardi Gras attire. (Only a short time ago, I had preached in this room to the same people.)
Soon, we were in place and the music started. It seemed easy at first--slow rhythmic music. Moving and stretching the arms, legs, feet and body to unhurried measured dawdling. “Oh shucks, there is nothing to this,” I quipped to a nearby resident.
She just smiled.
At first you are supposed to move your right arm with your right leg and foot and then do the “twist” and “shake it” so that the bells on your costume will jingle. Then you change and move your left arm and left foot and leg and “twist” and “shake it” in the opposite direction. Well, at that slow pace, that seemed easy enough, too.
This continued for a while “to get our bodies in sync”.
Then the beat picked up. I kept up for a few minutes and then got a little disharmonious. I was moving my left arm with my right leg and my right leg with my left arm, and was having a serious problem about when and where in the music to do the “twist” and “shake it”. My bells were jingling when they shouldn’t jingle and not jingling when they should jingle.
When they played Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock” and I tried to keep up, the residents went bananas watching their preacher.
Woody, a resident, remarked, “I just can’t wait to tell B. J.”
The dance team is trying to sign me up regular. They say that they can teach this old dog some new tricks.
They also do the Jitterbug and the Charleston. “You will have to work up to that,” they said.”