Posted by: spiritteacher | November 19, 2009

THE DANCE (A Parable)


A rainbow arcs from here to Heaven.
Let’s dance across it in the promises of God.       

The child sat in the hall just outside her parents’ bedroom.  The door was open a crack.  With one bare foot she softly kicked it wider.  She curled her knees up to her chest, hugged herself and rocked in silent rhythm to the dark and dangerous dance she saw her parents performing with each other.

As if in slow motion her mother swung her arm back and threw the hairbrush.  It thudded dully against the wall.  Her mother’s voice rose in pitch as she turned her body toward her husband and flung words that pierced the child like sharp arrows  Though all the words weren’t clear to the child, their meaning was.  The meaning was anger.  The meaning was hate.  She saw her father stop her mother’s arm with his powerful grip as it swung toward him.  Her parents’ voices joined together in a tight duet of raging emotions, words overlapping so quickly it was impossible to tell who was speaking.  One thing the child knew.  No one was listening … except her. 

She heard the dreaded words from her mother, “I’m leaving you!”  Her father threw his arms around her mother holding her tightly against his chest as her mother tried in vain to free herself from his tight grasp.  They rocked this way in a painful dance, for a time that spanned forever in a child’s eyes. Her mother’s sobs broke her heart.  Her father’s harsh tone scraped against her insides like his unshaved jaw against her delicate cheek. Only that was fun. This was searing pain.  This dance was not new to the child, but each time she saw it and each time she heard the scary words, she died a little more. 

Tonight something changed inside her.  She did something she hadn’t had the courage to do before.  She staggered to her feet, stood in the doorway, held out her hands, palms up like a street urchin begging for alms and cried out, “Mommy!  Daddy!  Stop it!”  Her small face was scrunched up tight and tears poured from her eyes.  She faced them for an instant longer, then whirled and ran to her bedroom and slammed her door.

The silence following her entreaty echoed in the deadly quiet of the night.  Within seconds her bedroom door opened and the hallway light flooded her room. Her mother ran to her.  Her father switched on her bedroom light. Before long she was wedged lovingly between her parents on her bed.  “Oh, baby, I’m so sorry,” her mother choked softly.  

 “We didn’t see you there,” her father said, his voice cracked with emotion.  “But that’s no excuse.”

“Don’t you love my Mommy?” the child asked in a small voice?  “Don’t you love my Daddy?” 

“Of course I do!” her parents cried in unison.  They rocked her in their arms and began a new dance that included the three of them and changed the timbre of the night from terror to remorse and for the child, hope. 

The child saw then, what her parents didn’t seem to notice, a heavenly light that encircled them and warmed the little girl from the inside out.  As is the way with children, fear faded quickly from her mind and joy lit her face.  She giggled now for this was a new moment and all was forgiven.  She saw her mother’s lips twitch as she looked back at her father.  As her father’s eyes stared straight into her mother’s, they softened and then twinkled.  In unison her parents burst out laughing. 

“Family hug!” the child cried.  Her parents rose from the bed and sandwiched her between them and they created another new dance. This one filled with light and joy.  Together the three of them circled the room in an awkward two step in time to the beautiful music of healing laughter.

Somehow the child knew the past was over and her mother and her father had learned something important.  If she had had the words to express it, it would be this; It’s okay to disagree, but it’s not okay to hate.  And it’s not okay to attack your children with your pain.

As the girl grew into a woman and became a mother herself, she never forgot that night. Each evening before she and her husband tucked their own children into bed, she cried out the now familiar words, “Family hug!”  Then the parents clasped their arms around their children and the children around each other.  And together they danced around the room in an ungainly shuffle, nearly losing their balance as they shrieked with joyful laughter.  And the child inside the woman smiled at the heavenly light that encircled her beloved family and warmed her from the inside out.


I dedicate this fictional story to my daughters who experienced my dysfunctional relationship with their father. Sadly, our story wasn’t as simply resolved as this one. I saw myself as a mentally abused wife and I believed my fight to protect myself and my daughters was the right thing.  I didn’t know what I was doing to my children. They were six and twelve when I left the dance. They are in their thirties now, but still the battles that they witnessed linger in their minds and touch them in ways I never imagined.

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