This autumn has been a strange one; warm, balmy days and a mix of clothing in the streets with people in shorts passing those in woolly tights and boots. But one staple of the season has been reliable – the start of Strictly Come Dancing. Love it or hate it (and I am firmly in the first camp), it heralds the start of the approach to Christmas and promises evenings of good family entertainment.
However, it all went wrong these last few weeks when two stars of the show made all the wrong kind of headlines. Comedian Seann Walsh and his dance partner Katya Jones (who are both in relationships) shared a drunken kiss in the sight of reporters. The backlash in the papers was striking, and it led to a public apology on the mid-week show in the place of discussions about the dancing. Without condoning the behaviour, it has been interesting to see that, in these times when it would seem that anything goes, there are still some who take such a strong moral stand. However, whenever there is a trial by newspapers, I am often reminded of the fact that none of us is perfect – and yet we tend to judge others by their actions whilst judging ourselves by our good intentions.
When we were children, my sisters and I used to attend a midweek children’s club called Junior Crusaders, run at our church. It was a very simple club compared to those run for children today. There was not a screen in sight – only games, quizzes, songs, bible stories and a drink and a biscuit. It was run by two elderly ladies from the church – Mrs Godwin and Miss Robinson – who turned up faithfully each week in their twin sets and pearls, and dedicated their time to a group of children who loved going to an evening club but probably didn’t always appreciate it as they should. They even coped with people like my husband who, as a young lad with no church background, would run through the building with his mate and knock the ladies’ hats off their heads (they were never seen without their hats).
If nothing else, one of the things I took from the club that I can still do today is recite the names of the 66 books of the bible in order, a party trick I have not been called upon to perform very often! But we were also encouraged to learn verses from the bible. One of the those we were taught was a prayer that said, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, my strength and my redeemer.” It was a prayer we said every week, but one that I chanted without any real thought.
And yet that verse sprung to mind this week when these TV stars were caught in the “sight” of reporters, and the world. The truth is that we all do things that we would not want people to see or know about (the fact that people commonly refer to “the curse of Strictly” proves that Seann and Katya aren’t the first to fall prey to the temptations of the dancefloor – they’re just the first to get caught on camera). Yet even if we managed to control our behaviour, and keep under the radar, we definitely wouldn’t be that keen on people knowing what is in our thoughts – the anger, the judging, the bad reactions, the envy – whatever our particular weakness might be. If our thought life was splashed over the pages of a paper, would we want people to read it?
So the words of that prayer that I used to chant without understanding as a child has found new meaning for me, and has become part of my morning routine: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, my strength and my redeemer.” In addition to getting my actions right, I want the thoughts in my head and the words that I say to also be such that I would not mind others knowing about them. And I certainly don’t want my thoughts to judge others by their actions while I judge myself by my good intentions. From now on, the only judging I want to participate in with Strictly is whether or not I think that jive was undermarked.
In the meantime, keeeeeeeeep dancing!
Written by Rosalyn Satchell