Tonight I learned that a new friend has cancer throughout her body. At the age of 90 she has danced and sung her way through life. Even though we have just recently met, I know I’ve been gifted a diamond.
I share this post in her honor and as a reminder – be aware of each moment for soon it will be a memory.
I know this child. I was she. With few role models to begin the journey, I faced my own mirror and saw a ‘dancer’.
There was no textbook for how family could raise a disabled child with confidence and opportunity. In the late 50s and early 60s few families had the support of established organizations nor were encouraged to meet with one another to share their struggles and successes.
Blessed as a child I knew few limits. My memory takes me to friendships and fun. My memory takes me to travel, family, school and all things that nurture the imagination of a child. The limits that were obvious became challenges (puzzles) to solve. The world was before me and all I wanted to do was move through it with the spirit’s music and rhythm. There were plenty of times when I needed that music to cushion and calm. Every child has to face the hard edges of growing up. These edges were particularly unique for me (as they are for any child growing up with a disability) – I entered the world of medicine, doctors and surgery at a very young age. Recovery from multiple surgeries was hard but to go without I could not have moved forward. So, there was never a question – recovery it was. With encouragement and love from parents and friends, I made my way through those young years and into an adult life filled with opportunity.
“Dancing” takes on many forms and the steps change throughout a lifetime. Ordained an Episcopal priest, I have the honor to lead the steps in faith’s dance, through the grace offered by God’s spirit. Now retired, I am testing the next steps in this dance. Again, the textbooks are few for what the road ahead should look like, which is a good thing because my style would most likely challenge any expectation. As many readers know, I have recently moved. Along with settling in a new home, I am meeting new doctors and other practitioners on a regular basis. To my surprise, there have been several moments when I have been thrown back to hard edges of my childhood. While recently meeting with a new physician, I made mention of how grateful I was to be so ‘healthy’. Her response – ‘yes, you have few immediate health problems which is good. You are in pretty good shape to be so ‘broken’. ‘Broken‘ – a word I have never thought of when describing myself. I may be able to understand her intent but the word used was hurtful.
That same confidence that carried me through childhood, the confidence that knew few limits, is still ever-present – ready to redefine and move ahead with the dance that is before me. I take these new steps grateful that I know the difference between being healthy and being whole. Like the image of this tiny dancer — it is not about seeing the broken – if that is all we see than we miss the beauty before us. She has all she needs.
I know that child, I am she.
While we cry ourselves to sleep, gratitude waits patiently to console and reassure us; there is a landscape larger than the one we can see.
Sarah Ban Breathnach
How is it tears and laughter always seem to intermingle? I believe there is a grace-filled dance between these two emotions. A dance where we can move finding solace and strength. While we take these steps, there is comfort in knowing the bigger picture may not yet be seen but with all certainty – is out there.
Practice the dance of tears and laughter – if just may offer the balance you seek and plant the assurance that the larger landscape will unfold.
I have always been intrigued with the concept of dancing. How do we express our dance? Each dance is as unique as the person inspired to move. And movement?! Oh, it can range from swirling high in the air to sharing the spirit of dance through the light in one’s eyes.
I am reminded of a saying found in the doorway of a church where movement and music are pivotal to the worship experience (St. Gregory of Nyssa). The saying originally read, “If you can walk, you can dance.” As the church grew, this phrase changed to expand the invitation – it now welcomes all by saying, “If you can move, you can dance.”
This video speaks to the spirit of dance through vision and music. May it offer you a moment of wonder – what stirs your spirit to dance?