I love to dance. I’ve been teaching classical ballet for over 4 years, and since I have been forced to discontinue taking ballet on a higher level myself, it’s no surprise that I enjoy all kinds of motion put to music! So when my sister and I were treated to a night of English Country Dancing at a Reformation Faire, we immediately fell in love with the style, grace and beauty of it.
Since we are such gracious and considerate individuals, we knew we just had to share this kind of family-friendly social interaction with our local community. Thus, since December we have been teaching monthly English Country Dancing to anyone with a hankering to relive the Jane Austen days.
We have learned a lot through our teaching (let me tell you, instructing little girls in ballet is vastly different than trying to direct 50 grown men and women in pair dancing). We have learned that any height difference between 2-4 feet makes dancing with one’s partner pretty awkward, that calling out can be just as physically taxing as actually dancing, and that men are vastly different from women!
Allow me to expand on that latter notion. Men and women tend to have dramatically different outlooks on life. A man will shop only if his life depends on it (in my Dad’s case, it would be Menards to pick up some roasted peanuts) and a woman will shop sometimes simply for the joy of checking out new styles and trends… even when she doesn’t need anything! The fairer sex will sigh, sob and giggle at all the appropriate moments in “Pride and Prejudice” while “I Am Legend” might have been the choice of the 15 year-old male. When it comes to dancing, the outlook tends to be the same. While it may not be a general rule that men abhor dancing, the sport is also not known to be an immediate favorite of theirs.
And this, my dear audience, is where the gentlemen enter. Whether some noble knights fear rejection, or mistakes, or simply the close proximity of a 2 foot distance from a female, it appears that men take a radically different approach to dancing than women. However, when the hesitancy is pushed aside, the boldness acquired, and the hand offered, a knight is born and a lady is rescued.
I have 5 brothers and I still do not profess to know males. But I am thankful for the differences the Lord gave us; that men can be tough and masculine, and women can be gentle and feminine. Dancing may not be a life or death issue, but biblical manhood and womanhood is. We risk the death of nations when men forsake their duties and women abandon their homes, and even worse when we throw off the word of God calling us to live our lives according to His purpose.
When women dress beautifully and step gracefully, it’s a lovely thing indeed. When men take the initiative and ask a lady to dance, it’s a very chivalrous act to behold! And when men and women shake off the shackles of the culture to pursue their roles with purity and honor, well… that is when the music really starts!
So it’s Summer. What better time is there for a boy to discover, adventure, and imagine? As a little girl I spent all the Summer hours I could out of doors; cooking, cleaning, mothering, and living as a girl in pioneer days. There were no limits to my imagination when tramping through our woods and homemaking in our old sheds. As I now move onto other projects and use my imagination in other ways, I am eager to see my brothers display the same eagerness to create and imagine in their childhoods… only in manly ways.
And so observing my younger brothers’ frequent boredom or lack of creativity, I am attempting to coach their minds and activities towards adventurous things. But, being a female I often have difficulty coming up with something realistic, appealing, and at the same time masculine. As my imagination was not offering any tempting projects for them, I decided to search on the internet for any helpful websites, hoping to find an abundance of lists, projects, ideas, and Christian websites designed to encourage masculine productivity in boys. As a young lady there is no trouble finding old fashioned blogs and websites; modesty ideas, sewing projects, online Christian girlhood magazines, and the like. But I found no such helpful websites for the other, and often feminized sex.
I feel for the boys of our day, who have do not have families that encourage them in the pursuits of chivalrous and masculine deeds. At the same time I am angry with our fluffy pink culture that batters down a boy’s need to adventure, take risks, and do dangerous, exciting, fulfilling things. From kindergarten to college our feminized culture beats out the natural needs of a boy to be a boy.
As for my brothers, I will continue to search and think of ways to encourage imagination and masculinity, even while saddened at the lack of attention showed not only online but everywhere you look in our culture towards those people and traits that display the meaning of strength.
Every young lady has dreamt at one time or another of her Knight in shining armor; of the chivalry lived out in medieval times. Today, often knights are pictured as handsome young men who spend their days riding from castle to castle and rescuing the fair ladies. Doubtless such acts are honorable and to be admired by all, but I think often the honor and character of knights has been rather lost on the outward images our culture does so well in glorifying.
G.A. Henty is an especial author in painting an accurate picture of the lives young men lived as Knights of the Cross. In his novel “A Knight of the White Cross” he brings out well the duty of his selfless young characters, who live for so much more than pale-faced maidens in distress (though he never fails to end with the rescue of a gracious, courageous, and worthy young lady). In the beginning, young knight-to-be Gervaise is urged by his father to live for Christ;
“I trust that for some year after you attain manhood, you will expend your whole strength and powers in the defence of Christianity, and as a worthy knight of the Order of St. John.”
And before being knighted, Gervaise is counseled by a knight;
“Ever bear in mind that you are a soldier of the Cross. Avoid luxury, live simply and modestly; be not led away by others, upon whom their vows may sit but lightly; keep ever in your mind that you have joined the Order neither to gain fame nor personal advantage, but simply that you may devote the strength and the intelligence that God has given you to protect Christendom from the advance of the infidel.” (emphasis mine.)
That picture stuck in our heads of handsome and wealthy knights is not so accurate after all, in light of the simple and selfless lifestyles lived out by men 600 years ago. Knighthood can easily be compared to the simple, selfless, and pure lives lived by monks in their time. The images, stories and ideas we have in our day about rich and handsome knights is not so entirely accurate as their giving and chivalrous attitudes that are not stressed enough. Spending the majority of their lives living in humble service to their countries- battling Muslims and fighting off neighboring clans- they were not allowed to marry while in active service to the Cross. And yet their attitudes towards women were such as any lady, single or not, should admire and encourage. As a young Knight friend of Gervaise put it;
“… it is part of the education of a true knight to be courteous to women. It is one of the great duties of chivalry.”
Though we long to and take delight in sugar coating the tales of heroism of yesterday, the truth to be revealed is; what made the Knights such a legend of goodness and success was the hardships, struggles, and everyday duty that we find in our own lives, though doubtless living situations were rougher than today’s.
Such wonderful stories told of innocent, fair ladies and noble protective Knights! How we often long to be carried back to the day when we could roam the green hills and walk the castle corridors in the company of a people and culture so far from our own. And yet, Knights and Ladies are not so yesterday as often thought. If we will only draw from the courageous men and women of our history the lessons learned and virtues upheld, and rely upon the renewal and strength of a gracious King, we may transform our everyday life in a modern culture into another legend of chivalry and beauty.
May we, the teens of today, aspire to live as purely and honorably as those who are called to defend the honor or family, friends, and most importantly the Cross.
When I was in Iowa campaigning early this month, I learned and experienced a lot. I got a behind-the-scenes look at a campaign, I observed the process and work that goes into a campaign, and I met several amazing candidates. It was truly a blessing to be involved in such a process as well as to meet such Godly politicians. But there was something else that I was exposed to in Iowa that really encouraged and blessed me as well; and that was the attitude of the young men in our SAT (Student Action Team).
In my area, there aren’t very many home-schooled teenagers, and the few older boys that I am around have disappointed me with their rather careless attitudes. So while on the SAT I was pleasantly awakened to the fact that there are plenty of chivalrous knights out there, just waiting to hold the door for us ladies. At first I wasn’t completely accustomed to having the young men (even if they were a long ways behind us) running to reach the door first so they could hold it for us ladies… simply the way we were treated and spoken to was with respect. But by the time I got home I was saying to myself “these are the kind of young men I want my brothers to be around!”.
So this is a “thank you” to all you young men out there who endeavor to treat us girls as ladies. We truly are thankful for every little thing you do to make us feel like the elegant ladies we wish to become.
Thank God; for there are still knights battling the war against our culture today!