hope deferred

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Monday night I went to a small girls get-together at Tina's house. A decorator moved up from Texas with a house from the "Victorian" magazine. All pink toile and chandeliers. There were little cucumber sandwiches on silver platters and petite lemon bars covered in powdered sugar that made you cough when you accidentally took a breath while biting into one. A couple of sweet voiced guests including a 5 year old named Eleanor, and a beautiful ballet staged at the Paris Opera house playing on the little TV in the corner. That's how I know Tina. She is one of the lovelier ladies that I dance with on Thursdays. I've been dancing for a little over 3 years now and most faces come and go fairly quickly, (ballet is hard...) but Jen and Tina and I have been regular for some time ...and of course always there is the sweet encouraging face of DeeDee, our beloved teacher.

DeeDee went to Malta in October and none of us were quite sure where that was so we insisted when she got back that we would all get together to hear stories and yearn over the pictures. It turns out Malta is an island in the Mediterranean...actually the island where Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked, a little fact that I find SO intriguing! We looked at tourist books and pictures for a good 2 hours and if there wasn't enough to adore about DeeDee already, I now want to travel to amazing places and share quirky cultural experiences with her too. Oh the amazing interesting things I learned about Malta, and about DeeDee too, I guess.

As the evening wound down and the other guests left, it was just the 4 of us "ballet girls" sitting crooning over those phenomenal pirouettes and gran jete's the little French ballerinas were doing for us on the TV in the corner, and the discussion turned, of course, to dance. Dancer's feet, to be more specific. I guess a pointe ballerina's feet are quite ugly. All knobby and torn up and bunyon-y, according to DeeDee. It makes sense. They're spinning and balancing on the ends of their toes for hours at a time every day wearing nothing but a few scraps of cardboard and satin ribbon and really now, feet just weren't made to do that. I asked lots of questions, because frankly, I've never looked closely at a real dancer's feet and I've never tried on a pair of Pointe shoes. So I'm told that dancing, the really beautiful kind of dancing is a painful, bloody, sacrificial kind of business. Not just anyone is cut out to do it and apparently the dancing through the blisters and injuries is part of the refining, weeding out, "do you really have what it takes" process of becoming a Company dancer. These days there are better shoes, gel inserts, all sorts of things that could help improve the lives of those little feet in Pointe shoes, but no "respectable Company" would allow any of that. The blood and pain is a necessary rite of passage for a real dancer, as I understand it.

It's my secret dream to dance Pointe someday...with no one watching of course. I just want to own a pair of the pretty shoes and dance something really lovely, maybe just once. Just for the mirror, and maybe my Best Friend, the one that gave me the feet in the first place. But man, who knew it would come with ugly feet and blisters and medical tape to keep from getting my pretty shoes all bloody.
That was Monday night.

On Tuesday night I had another little event to attend. This was actually just the storyline culmination for my precious little kindergartners. They were doing a play about the Owl who was afraid of the Dark. Too cute to miss. It was short, only 45 minutes tops. But there was something else about Tuesday night. Something in no way related to my kinders, but a very small thing about the event that gave me a very small reason to have a very small hope about a long and difficult sorrow that I've had to face bravely for what feels like eternity. So like I always do, I let hope have it's little morning in the sun. I hoped for the best. And I was disappointed, not surprisingly. My faith and questions don't do their topsy-turvy whirlwinds anymore like they used to do every time my hopes were dashed. More often now, my Jesus and I just talk things over and that's what we did on the way home.

"I trust you. This is the way things are and I accept them Lord."
"I don't like the way things are any better than you do, Jennie" he tells me, "but keep on trusting. I'll work this all out. Do you trust me?"
I nod sincerely. "I don't want you to take any shortcuts at all of this just because it's hard for me, I want you to have your way," I tell him honestly, and probably more courageously than I actually feel.
And then He gives His peace once again and I go home and instead of crying myself to sleep this time, I pick up a nice little novel called "Sundays at Tiffany's" and read my self-absorbed thoughts away. It's a nice little story...so far, i guess.

As I'm washing up for bed I'm quoting to myself one more time the verse from Proverbs. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." I don't know why I quote that one, but it always gives me a strange sort of comfort. It doesn't really fall under the category of "Godly wisdom" and doesn't offer any sort of advice about how to handle the crummy situation or anything. It just hears me and acknowledges me..."yeah, you have a sick heart because your hope was deferred one more time. I know. I know," it tells me. And somehow the fact that it's written there in Proverbs makes it ok that my heart is a little sick today. That's when I remember the conversation with DeeDee about the shoes and the blisters and what it takes to be a real dancer, the kind that can perform the dances that make you cry at the strength and beauty of them. I've been the silly girl who cried watching the ballet before, I know. And I've come to believe that this deferred hope is the same sort of thing. It's like blisters and bunyons and bloody toes, sometimes sprains and bruises and I have to just tape them up, put on the pretty shoes and keep right on trying, right on dancing...If I'm ever going to be one of the girls who's "got what it takes."

That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday I will go be with a group of amazing, fiesty high school girls and I'll have to lead them in a discussion about relationships...How God wants our relationships with our families, specifically our brothers and sisters to look.

Boy. This never gets easy...But then I told him, I don't want Him to make it easy just for me, didn't I?