I look up to a Monday moonrise after stepping outside for a break from choir parent assistant duties. Walking a winding path to the hilltop, I stop and survey my surroundings. The view is breathtaking, calming, peaceful. I feel grateful for the gift of space and beauty.
This Monday was particularly challenging from the start; one of those days that feels as if there is no chance for recovery after the initial stumble into it. Thin margins equal no margin. Each bit of today’s margin was swallowed by the previous thing or the next thing, leaving very little space to actually be in the present thing.
The moonrise calls me back to what is now, not what was or what is coming later, because there is still more left in the day. There are still at least two more things that will go wrong. I do not know this, yet.
Returning to finish out rehearsal, I am faced with more that is unexpected, and at this point try to just lean into it. I am glad to be able to work tonight and not be home with a sick child or two. I am thankful that in the midst of the many challenges there is health.
I thought outside of the box today. After choir, while shopping for black flats for my chorister, I realized my bank card was in the hands of another who had run an earlier errand. Rather than following my usual defeatist mentality and leave the store once I realized this, I chose to continue to shop with my child for the shoes and then order them online to pick up tomorrow.
In the midst of all that was hard and all that felt discouraging, at the end of the day there were filled water jugs, ordered tights and shoes, eggs, milk, and bagels in the refrigerator, and expanders in a different child’s mouth, preparing for a journey with braces. There was a mug of hot tea.
Also, this song which seemed fitting for this Mondayest Monday.
My final post of the year was unplanned, yet begs to be written. A New Year’s Eve twist finds me at home rather than out celebrating downtown. A surprise sum of money collected earlier in the day finds me with funds to donate when I was unsure there would be any. Now I need to write about it.
For the past several years, I have donated to theRed Tent Living team in their efforts to raise money to combat human trafficking via Dressember. Cheering them on from a distance, admiring their choice of outfits, I never participated fully by wearing a dress myself or calling attention to the movement.
This year I began pondering what it might be to participate by wearing a dress or skirt each day. The month of November found me wrestling the idea, torn with ambivalence and struggling with what was going on inside of me to offer such resistance.
On December 1 I put on a skirt, telling myself that I would regret not wearing one if I decided to go through with the challenge. That day was an early-morning choir rehearsal for the Shenandoah Valley Children’s ChoirChristmas concert. I am a parent assistant and received many compliments on how nice I looked that early in the morning.
The following day was Sunday and was natural to dress for church as well as for the choir performance. Day 2.
I continued through the month. On Day 4 I wore a dress to my exercise class. It was the one I wore to my son’s rehearsal dinner the month before. The other ladies in the class admired it and seemed surprised that I would wear it to class, but they did not ask further details and I did not offer any.
The month rolled on, and each day I wore a dress or skirt. It was easy because I have so many of them. In fact, what made it easy is also what made it difficult. I realized that my story with dresses and skirts is what was keeping me steeped in ambivalence.
At the final exercise class of the season, I determined to share why I was again wearing a dress while exercising. There was a new participant, and at the end of class when we were talking I shared why I had worn a dress to the previous class and why I was wearing one now.
I looked at the newest member of the class and said, You could just think I’m that lady who wears dresses all of the time which I am not. I have already been down that road.
Because I have. And that is what made this so difficult. My story with wearing dresses feels shameful and confusing, and to call attention to the fact that I was wearing one triggered deep feelings tied to clothing and body image and a whole list of other related baggage.
Having purposed in my heart to wear a dress each day, I continued to the end. Confident that I would find some extra money to donate, I waited. Christmas money was absorbed by medical bills and other necessaries. Time began to run out. End of year finances tightened to the point that Christmas cards still remain on the mantle, addressed and waiting for stamps.
The final day of December, the final hours arrived, and a message came, thanking me for a job I had done for a loved one. She told me there was money to pick up for it. This was an unexpected twist in my day.
Grateful, I stopped by and collected a generous amount. It gave me $20 to donate, which is not much, but it is something. These days, to me, it is much.
I have my dress on, though my New Year’s Eve plans changed. I wonder if they changed to give me time to write this final post. To share my journey and struggle and wish that I had sorted all of this out sooner.
This was the time to share. I am still sorting, struggling, pushing through.
Shame says It’s too late. Why bother? You should have made this decision at the beginning of the month.
Standing backstage, I realize how much of my life mirrors this space I inhabit with rows of choristers, their accompanists, and other parent assistants. Together we work to prepare for a concert about to begin.
I pass tissues, bandage fingers, collect trash. I smile, encourage, and whisper final blessings as sparkling children step out to take the stage. Then the space is empty and quiet.
I wait backstage to receive the choristers after this first number and to help them prepare for the next. In this waiting I look around, take deep breaths, collect my thoughts.
Empty bins line the wall. Some rest on a rolling cart. Their contents decorate the auditorium. A tall, glittering Christmas tree, large golden stars, white lights, and colorful hanging banners all have been pulled out to say Welcome Christmas.
Music drifts back, muffled by the curtains and acoustic shell that surrounds the risers. I know its sound. I have listened as it was created, sat as singers worked through it, encouraged and supported those creating it.
I imagine the conductor in her sparkly black gown on stage, drawing out the beauty of the children’s voices. This is her gifting and glory, and it is apparent as this concert begins. My glory is in support. It is backstage that I sparkle.
I navigate behind the scenes well so that others can take their place on the stage. Behind the scenes work happens to create the magic. Laughter, tears, blood, nerves, these all bring life to a performance as it is pulled together and placed on display.
It takes hours backstage to roll out a polished performance. Not all get the privilege of knowing where broken spotlights hang waiting for repair or how many plastic totes it takes to pack up the Christmas sparkle.
I see all of this and more.
My gifting is in seeing and supporting. It is calling forth potential from deep inside of another. It is in naming glory, and this day is glorious. These children and their directors are glorious.
I sit with myself in this tension. Rather than blessing my backstage beauty, I question what is wrong with me that I am not the one on stage. Not just here but in other realms of life. Why do some seem to hold the spotlight naturally, to pull things together, to speak from the front lines with confidence?
Ideas come to me. Memories. Thoughts. We cannot all crowd the up front space. Doing my job well supports others in theirs, and as we each find our unique place, we create beauty. It is not about who is center stage but about how we come together in support of one another for the sake of something bigger.
Deep gratitude and joy flood my heart as I witness and participate in the thunderous applause and standing ovation following the final number. Glory radiates, flowing over the crowd as we celebrate together those on the stage, and I celebrate inside the backstage beauty.