If I were the Queen of the World today, I’d raise my scepter at you people and make a royal command. YOU MUST TRAVEL BACK IN TIME WITH ME TO LAST MONDAY NIGHT (if I’m going to transform myself into Queen of the World, I might as well have the power of time travel too) AND SEE THREE SNAPSHOTS THAT MIGHT CHANGE YOUR WORLD!
Or at least they will give you big thoughts and feelings, like they did for me.
Snapshot #1: (You’re going to have to imagine these, because the actual photographs I took with my phone don’t do these big feelings justice.) Imagine an elementary school cafetorium (part cafeteria, part auditorium with an elevated stage) filled with parents and grandparents and siblings and special friends, sitting in plastic chairs in front of the stage. The black backdrop of the stage is decorated with glittery paper Oscar statues and the golden words, “Blythe’s Got Talent”.
NO! YOU MAY NOT QUIT READING! THIS IS NOT AN ORDINARY TALENT SHOW! THE QUEEN DEMANDS THAT YOU CONTINUE!
As I was saying, the stage is set for the talent show. Our emcee, a smiling woman dressed in black, approaches the microphone and welcomes everyone. You can feel everyone smile and get comfortable in their seats, excited for the kids backstage. And then with the voice of your sweetest southern aunt, our emcee introduces each performer. “Next in our lineup, Carly Smith and Meghan Jones are going to sing, ‘Firework'” she says, which is normal and expected for her to say, but then she adds, “Carly and Meghan, come out and join us!” She says this with the kind sort of voice that sounds as if we’re all family. Like we just had a nice lunch together of chicken and dumplings and green beans and sweet tea and maybe even blackberry cobbler for dessert, and now we’re sitting together in the living room, all of us parents and grandparents and cousins and neighbors, and these kids, these precious children we’ve known and treasured forever, are going to put on a show for us. And we just know we’re going to love every single thing they do (we really are- we’re not just saying it) because WE LOVE THEM and we think they’re so brave and beautiful just to share themselves with us. We’re their home team crowd, so of course we’re going to shout “Bravo” and yell and clap til our hands hurt.
And so we do!
Snapshot #2: Imagine 31 children, individually or in groups of 2 or 3 or 4, invited to “Come out and join us!” and they actually do! They actually muster their courage and come out onto the stage, in clothes they picked out just for this evening, and they sit in the chairs that are placed for them or they stand in just the right pose they came up with until the music starts and they can start dancing or singing. They smile and breathe before they start, because they know they’re loved and they’ve practiced hard, and it’s just their family anyway that they’re performing for.
At least that’s how this snapshot looks to me. Maybe they have butterflies, but I couldn’t see them as Kylie sat down with her clarinet and played first “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and then “Jingle Bells” with beautiful slow, full notes that filled the room. I couldn’t see butterflies as Ella and Delia took the stage with their flute and snare drum and then put on blindfolds, because THEY’RE GOING TO PLAY BLINDFOLDED! I couldn’t see butterflies because I was too busy seeing BRAVERY and JOY and PERSEVERANCE and lots and lots of PRACTICE. But the bravery and joy were the best part of all.
So of course the audience went wild for each child, clapping and whistling and whooping. And each child seemed so glad they’d done it and happy it was all done and they’d let their family see a little of who they are and what they can do! And in the eyes of each of those children I was pretty sure I could see the idea that maybe they could even do other things they’d been considering.
At least that’s how it looked to me.
Snapshot #3: Imagine my first grade friend Brynn sitting in the audience on her daddy’s lap, watching child after child, group after group with rapt attention. But not just watching. Nope. When Lucas played his trombone, Brynn played her own invisible one, sliding it with ease, moving it up and down like a pro. When two friends sang, “Shake It Off”, Brynn shook it off alongside them, still on dad’s lap. When the girls did synchronized swimming (yes they really did) Brynn had the backstroke down pat.
It may have looked like a Talent Show, but it was so much more!
The children showed Brynn –and all the others in the seats out front, the moms and dads and grandparents and a random children’s minister– what it looks like to get up your gumption and share yourself with the world! The kids were acting out what a child recently said during a lesson from the sermon on the mount about shining God’s light. If you don’t share your light, the world is a darker place!
And Brynn showed me that the first step of sharing yourself is to see others do it and go ahead and try it on for yourself! Why waste time worrying about people watching? You’re in your Father/Mother’s lap. Give it a go!
The kids challenged all of us to ask what we were waiting for. Why wait until I’m ready for a Beethoven symphony before I share with other people? “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is beautiful played with smooth silky notes. “Frere Jacques” is lovely on flute and snare drum! And why not do it blindfolded, if that would be fun?
And our emcee showed all of us that a show doesn’t have to be a contest. It can be so much better than that, more than that. It can be a sacred space to try out sharing who we are, in a living room full of people that love us, cheering us on.
Thanks for reading,
Your grateful queen of the world 🙂