Body, Mind & Spirit

Note – This is a work of fiction, but may bear a remarkable resemblance to hope.

Lisa loved to dance. She was 13 years old, a fast learner and was riding in the back seat of the car combing her auburn hair when she remembered what she had forgotten.

“My ballet slippers are at home!” Lisa shouted.

“We’re not going back home,” her father said evenly. “You’ll have to borrow a pair from Mrs. Egan.”

“I hate her old slippers,” Lisa complained. “They smell, and I need a new pair anyway. When can I buy some?”

Her father didn’t answer right away.

Lisa, in fact, had liked a lot of endeavors initially – piano lessons, swimming lessons, voice – but she opted out of these as soon as the hard work ensued. But ballet was different. Her father recognized her tendencies, had accepted them and wanted to be supportive. “I’ll buy you a new pair of slippers next week,” he said eventually.

“Thanks,” Lisa said. “You’ll see. The new ones will make all the difference. Just watch.”

Her father was watching, but he didn’t see the dump truck—the one barreling through the flashing red light – and before Lisa could finish her thought, the car was crushed in a blast of metallic violence and blinding spray of shattering glass.

Their recovery took months. First Lisa’s father was released and then, weeks later, Lisa came home in a wheelchair, carrying a prosthetic leg that she had learned to fit below the right knee. She was a child again, and then a toddler, and eventually she stood on her own strength and fitted the prosthesis and rose and walked. Each step was difficult, and by the time she celebrated her 14th birthday, she could safely make her way down the hallways at school, the pitying stares of her classmates following her every tortured movement.

One day, when she came home from school – empty of purpose and the dreams that used to fill her imagination – she discovered a small sack at the front door. Some anonymous soul had written her name on it, along with the words: “Dance, then, wherever you may be. I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.”

Inside was a new pair of ballet slippers.

Lisa carried the slippers to her room, pondered her past, her future and then she slipped into the pair and considered what could be with God’s help. She felt strengthened by an unfathomable love. She stood on a trembling leg and attempted an Arriere, and then an Arabesque, and finally a Pirouette. She fell, but stood again, and in time the old techniques and the desire returned.

That night at the dinner table Lisa told her parents about the slippers. Her father was angry. “It’s a cruel joke,” he said. “Who could be so callous as to give a gift like that?”

They were silent as they ate. But eventually her mother asked, “What do you want, Lisa?

“I can walk,” Lisa said. “And now that I have new slippers, I can learn again. You’ll see. I want you to believe, too. And I want you to watch me dance.”

It wasn’t easy. But Lisa had a good teacher. And she wanted to keep the dance alive – wherever she might be.

Todd Outcalt is senior pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg. This story can be reprinted in United Methodist periodicals.