She stood in the middle of the room. One finger in her mouth, one hand grasping the rhythm stick with a death grip.
Dance class for two and three year old’s had begun. The instructor enthusiastically led eight little girls in pink leotards and white tights around the room. Each little one swished the ribbons on the sticks to and fro.
She stood and watched. Now and again, the teacher would glide by the Observer and grab her by the hand. “Jump!” “Jump!” the leader would call out merrily. Happy for the hand, she would try with all her might to jump. I saw a little smile creep across her face.
But when the teacher would drop her hand, she stood alone again.
Finally, after thirty minutes, she’d warm up enough to join the class. The teacher was passing out stuffed animals now. Each student got a little partner. The teacher showed them how to sway around the room, cradling their bunny, bear or monkey. It looked like prom night at the zoo.
After class was dismissed, and the Observer was home for a few hours, a funny thing happened. She would spontaneously burst into fits of dance, running around the first floor of the house, stopping for only a moment to jump.
“Did you do that at class today?” her Daddy would ask. “Yeah!” the Observer would joyfully respond. And off she’d go to find her dance partner among the stuffed animals in the corner.
I see myself in her.
I got overwhelmed when I decided to start volunteering. There were so many choices. I could spend time with groups in the town, church or local schools. The opportunities were endless.
I would look around at all the people who gave so much of themselves to others. Like the dancers the Observer saw, they forgot themselves, moving and twirling to the music of love of neighbor.
I really wanted to join them. I just couldn’t figure out how.
Friends would invite me to join in on a project. I would tag along and work really hard, grateful for the direction. But as soon as the project was over, I was back to square one. I loved the experience, but I was still unable to pinpoint what I wanted to do.
Finally, I decided on helping at a homeless shelter. I would be there for over ten years. I had come home in that service, and found my joy.
No longer an observer, I danced with my partners who volunteered at the shelter. We all had a love for the work and had fun serving. No longer just watching, I became a part of the dance.
The Observer is on her way. She found a place to dance in her home too. Right now, it doesn’t matter where she dances. She’s learning. Just like I did.
Just keep watching, Little One. And keep up the good work at home. You’ll find your place in the class.
Just keep dancing.
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