“I’ve got your next Catholic Mom post for you,” said a friend after church. “Your daughter …”
My daughter had gotten out of the car in a cherry red dress with sparkles and fuchsia pink beach sandals on her feet. Horrified, I did the sensible thing and forbade her from wearing her shoes in church. Everyone, I explained, would assume her black socks were shoes.
My back was turned and I was playing the piano when her brother showed up to say they needed help on the altar. By the time she reappeared in floor length white robe, we were singing the opening music.
“I saw someone found her red slippers for her feet,” I said to my friend embarrassed.
“The other lady and I got those out for her. She was twirling all over the room in her robe before church. We were afraid she would fall. All I could think of was that song, ‘Lord of the Dance,'” said my friend.
I didn’t need to be there to know what my daughter looked like. She would have danced content and smiling, and paid attention to ripples of material as she spun. Anyone watching would only have seen the white robe. She would have danced seeing the sparkles from the red dress underneath.
Sometimes I wonder where she came from. Other times I learn from her. I have ended up lately on some committees to help sponsor refugees. The amount I care about helping is inversely proportional to how much I hate being on committees. I like people. I believe that building community is good for everybody. But . . .
I say the problem is my lack of patience. (I’m a “get to the point and get her done,” kind of person.) It was my distaste for committees that I was pondering in advance of the latest meeting when the picture of my daughter dancing came to me. And then as clear as that I saw: the part that hurts is that I’m her.
My daughter dances through life oblivious to the fact that not everyone hears the music. In my own way, I struggle with this too. I start to hear music when someone presents a problem. Sitting in a circle of chairs, I’m quickly worlds away doing the jitterbug with possible solutions. I arrive in white robe, hidden red sparkles, and black stocking feet masquerading as shoes to see windows and doors where another might see walls.
Worries, fears, and no thank you’s rain down on my parades. I leave most meetings somewhere between discouraged and disconsolate. Why do people keep saying that it can’t be done? Did they never hear the story of the little engine that could? Why must we aim smaller?
The picture of my daughter dancing wouldn’t leave me. Looking at myself, I feel inadequate. Like my gifts make me look foolish and unequal to the weightier considerations of a proper committee. But looking at my daughter, it’s clear to me that who she is, is not a mistake. Not everyone can hear the music. But when you do, you do. If that’s how God made you, you’re supposed to dance.
I’ve heard a lot of insistent, inescapable music lately. I’m as compelled to tell you what it sounds like as my daughter was to dance. The number of displaced persons in our world today is unprecedented in recorded history. Truly unimaginable numbers of people are suffering. Those are the facts. The music I can’t get away from is this:
We don’t have to accept a world where a country’s worth of people are refugees. The argument of immensity (the problem is too big so nothing we can do will really help) is nonsense. In the face of unspeakable tragedy, we are each of us one. Limited in both knowledge and resources, we remain nevertheless one. To be incapable of doing everything does not release us from the obligation to do something. One is a big number. God sent one son to die on one cross, thereby paying for the sins of the entire world. This redemption for all soaks down through humanity until that precious blood comes full circle as you and I are redeemed one by one.
We aren’t called to have all the answers to the world’s suffering; we’re called to learn the dance of love with abandon. And then to dance. Like no one is watching and God is playing the violin. To the sick, the isolated, the forgotten and the suffering, he came. Right here, right now, in our time we are being offered the gift to go and do likewise.
Copyright 2015, Michelle Dawn Jones. All rights reserved.
Picture: Oberon, titania and puck dancing, by William Blake, 1786, public domain.