(photo by yours truly)

I waited and prayed for children for a long time.  I first knew that God had heard my prayer when, crying out to Him for an answer, any answer, I saw a brilliant orange moon rising over Lake Michigan.  One year later, we brought our daughter home from the hospital and sat by her Moses basket in the light of another full moon rising over the lake.

For nine months, I’ve written a hefty monthly check to a local dance studio for this daughter’s ballet class.  Each month, I worried that the money was being wasted.  Wouldn’t it be better to sponsor another Compassion child?  Or, put the money away in a college fund?

My daughter enjoys the class, but I have no dreams of grandeur for her involving a career as a dancer.  I’m afraid the gene pool in our house quashed that dream before she was even born.  And I don’t have to take it that far.  I remember clearly the moment in my own childhood ballet class when I realized that my body wasn’t made to do the things being asked of it.  I was eight.  I quit and never looked back.  Should I really be devoting so much of our monthly budget for a ballerina-fairytale-dream that will probably end in a year or two?

Last night, sitting in a beautiful old theater as class after class danced for us I saw how wrong I have been.  I filter my budget (and my world) through concepts like productivity, utility, and remuneration.  Words like beauty and art don’t enter those equations.

The annual dance recital was art.  The whole of it and the little moments: from the graduating dancers performing their elegant senior solos to the three-year-olds dressed like pink bumblebees standing on stage looking dazed. 

I can’t dance to save my life, but, watching those dancers, I knew that this is what we were made for.  To dance.  To sing.  To perform and write and paint and rhyme and . . . create beauty. 

Still, there are doubts.  In a world in which so many suffer while the rest look away, how can I justify any time or money or energy that is not spent on aid, in protest, or at work?  These things matter.  A lot.  In fact, I’ve just decided that we do need to sponsor another Compassion child.  However, I’ll shift the money from our Christmas fund instead.

Driving home from the downtown theater, we followed a full moon tinted deep orange by the still-burning wildfires, and I remembered the moons that announced the gift of this girl, my girl.  The moon stayed centered in our windshield, and I could have sworn we were being led through the desert by a pillar of fire, the only sound in our car the subtle tapping of silvery ash against the window.  My daughter’s dance is gone.  Blown away with the ash on a Florida wind.  Like life itself, it is over and gone before I’ve fully registered its beauty.  But it was good and worth far more than dollars can count.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” 

(James 4: 14)

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