Broken Ballerina

Once I have found that in my total brokenness I am still loved, I become free from the compulsion of doing successful things.
— Henri Nouwen

Dear women,

I had an ivory leather jewelry box with a little keyed brass latch on it when I was growing up.  It had a gold harlequin diamond pattern decorating the puffy lid, and lipstick red velvet, tucked and glued, lining the inside.  At the time, my jewelry collection consisted of a charm bracelet my Aunt Mary had given me, with one solitary charm  on it,  a couple of squeezee adjustable size rings with various plastic gems in various unknown metal settings, some of my mom's tossed off costume necklaces, dad's tie bars, a pearl button from a white shirt, and one important personal treasure, my Sunday School pin.  It was a red insert set in a gold torch with "Primaries" stamped on it, and there was a "candle" attached by a short chain signifying each year of perfect attendance... 3.  That was, at the time, almost half my life.

The jewelry box had a little ballerina inside who spent much of her life facing down until the lid was opened, at which time she would spring up, and dance around a small clear platform to the tune of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".  Her hands were stretched above her head, fingers reaching higher than the tiara on her head, one leg steadied her while the other extended at a 45 degree angle behind her.  She was exquisite, black painted hair snugged in a chignon, red lips and pink tutu.  Every time I opened  the box, she celebrated with a twirl around and around her little platform. Once I made my selection and closed the lid, she would quietly fold herself down onto the red velvet and rest until the next time I opened the box.

Somewhere in my adolescent years, while the music continued, the dancing had stopped.  In my haste to reach for lockets on chains, and a now jangling half full charm bracelet, and a growing collection of rings, I had not noticed the day that my little ballerina quit dancing. She would still pop up, and reach high, but the dance in her was gone.  She was broken.

The box stayed with me until I moved away to college.  I had picked up a fine furniture jewelry box that my Dad purchased for me in the orient, and most of my "real" jewelry had been transferred there.  I emptied out the harlequin leather box of the remaining lesser used items, pulling the Sunday School pin out with the other "jewels", and then prepared to take the box up to the attic with the other retired childhood artifacts.  I sat on the pull down attic stairs with the box open on my lap humming the rainbow song, and touched the little dancers fingers, lovingly, no less fond of the still dancer than the kinetic one that used to spin joyfully.

Father, some days the dance is just out of me.  Some days I just can't seem to be the women I really want to be.  I am humbled by the continuing intensity of your love for me, even when I am a still dancer, in an empty box.   Even when I am broken.  I am simply your beloved.

You too, my dancing, broken, tiared friends.

See you along the way.