The performance hall was full. An expectant hush fell over the audience as the lights dimmed and the curtain opened. My 9 year old and 6 year old daughters sat on either side of me; the light from the stage illuminatined their sparkling eyes and expectant smiles as the first dancers twirled into place. I heard soft gasps as they held their breath, overcome by the beauty before them. It was their first time at the ballet annd for the briefest moment, suspended in time by the magic all around, I was not a 38 year old mother of five but the little girl sitting in the middle.
It was my first ballet too.
Occaisionally over the next two hours, I would whisper explanations of the wordless plot to my daughters but for the most part we were each lost in our individual experience. As I sat there, my mind drifted far back to one of my earliest memories of a visit to my aunt and uncle when I was around three years old. I had wandered into my teenage cousin’s room and climbed up on her bed in an effort to touch the toe shoes hanging above it. My uncle found me there and cautioned me against playing with them but then he gently sat me on the bed beside him and opened a book filled with photographs of ballerinas. He paitently showed me each picture, telling me all about it. It was my very first exposure to dance and I was immediately enthralled. I remember only one thing clearly that he said that day. When we finished looking at the book he turned to me and said,
“….and someday you can be a ballerina too! Would you like that?”
My heart leapt at the possibility and I emphatically nodded my head “yes”.
A few days later, I went home but I never let go of that dream. My uncle said I could be a ballerina and that is what I would become. I don’t know how long it took before I expressed my desire to take ballet to my father. It might have been weeks, or months, or years but I remember all too well his response. He told me I would never, ever be a ballerina.
You see at the time, my parents believed dancing was sinful.
I shook my head clear of the memories and focused again on The Nashville Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake. As I watched the ballerinas, I could not help but wonder what could have been but then I was overcome with gratitude to my Savior because I realized how the priviledge of being there in that hall with my daughters, all of us drinking in our first ballet together was just one more example of how he was restoring my life bit by bit.
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” Joel 2:25
There is a world of difference between “religion” and “relationship with Christ”. For so many years, religion (and in my experience, the legalism that went along with it) rampaged through my life like a swarm of locusts through a field. I do not blame my parents. They are good people who were simply following what they had been taught. They were trying to do what they belived was right.
But I am oh, so glad that Jesus stepped in and invited me into relationship with Him because when he did, he began the process of sweetly restoring to me “all the years the locusts had eaten”.
The Lord of the Dance set me free.
“You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”