thoughts on things

Dancing with Cinderella

Dancing with Cinderella

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone.

—  Cinderella, Steven Curtis Chapman

I touch my big sister’s shoulder, the one whom I admire for her exposed heart, and together we watch the young woman with copper strands and light eyes float on her daddy’s arm to the edge of the precipice where her forever-man waits.

We peer over the silvered yoke of our eldest sister, the one I admire for her steadfast faith and her wisdom, which seems to rise up from the depths of her spirit.  She watches her daughter in white, transfixed.

Our breaths catch.  Sister whispers, “How did we get here?”

Wasn’t it last week that she led me by chubby hand around the blossoming apple tree?  Didn’t she just piggy-back me all the way home on a mid-winter day because we’d lost my boot beneath the mud?

Wasn’t it yesterday that I was thirteen, with my country-blue dress and mall hair, as I walked on colt-legs to light our eldest sister’s wedding candles?  Too old for a flower girl, too young for a bridesmaid, my eldest sister still found a place for this half-sister as “acolyte.”  My first wedding honor.  I still feel the lingering pride as I watched our eldest sister marry her own forever-man.

Wasn’t it just this morning that our eldest sister sent pink pictures of a spirited baby-girl with fiery hair and ice-eyes and an illustrious mind?  Wasn’t I just getting to know my own forever-man when we heard tales of the precocious red-head who we were convinced would one day rule the world?

How did so many decades pass in a breath?  How is my niece, this graceful, faith-filled young woman before us the same little girl who melted down at losing a game of checkers?

But she is.  Together, she and her forever-man listen as the minister cautions them to honor this new covenant that is so much more than paper or promise.  They speak their assent and I know in my bones they understand what they’re doing far more than I did at their age.

The processional leads us out of the sun and into the reception room bright with gladness and cupcakes and toasts and well-wishes.  The bride and groom, who met in ballroom dancing classes, show their stuff as we watch them fly around the room in black-and-white swirls.

The dance ends, and her Daddy stands.  It’s his last turn dancing as the only man in her life, and we hold our collective breath as the music starts.  They sway to-and-fro and chat through the introduction, and we all smile because it’s not as dramatic, but it’s still beautiful.

A sly smile from Daddy, daughter tilts her regal head back, the music rushes forward and suddenly he is Fred Astaire, spinning and turning her, leaning in, leaning away, and she floats on air like Ginger Rogers and they both know this is not good-bye, but it is a good-bye, at once heart-rending and right.

Someone leans in and whispers, “He’s been practicing all summer for this.”

‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone…

The music dies, and she turns away.  Her Daddy blows a kiss, and we know he sees the remnants of a baby-girl as she moves from the arms of her father into those of her forever-man.

The music stops, and I look behind me to see my own forever-man holding our baby-girl in his arms.

Behind him, my Daddy looks out on it all with pride.

How did we get here?  We got here through long days and short years, we got here through faith and love and perseverance, and because daddies loved and daughters trusted.

There is more than one kind of covenant, so here’s to covenants unbroken.

Photo via Visual hunt

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