The girls and I went to see Riverdance a few weeks ago.
Allow me to rewind by at least 14 years to our very first encounter.
The girls were 8 and 12, maybe younger, we can’t quite place the exact year.
We sat high up in the auditorium and from the opening note and shoe tapping
unison, I was smitten.
At intermission, I sped past the concessions (good call) and the restroom (bad call) and
plunked down money for a CD and not a DVD but a VHS tape.
Yes, it was a long time ago.
I skipped back to my seat before the lights extinguished and quickly was entranced
once again by the singing and dancing of Riverdance.
During the final curtain call, I sniffed back tears as I clapped along with the audience.
It’s easy to be swept away in the moment, make an impulsive purchase only to later
shake your foolish head, this was not one of those occasions.
I played the CD incessantly, in the car and while I did chores.
When I was discouraged, I would press play and my mood was elevated.
I can’t explain it, but Riverdance reached a place deep inside me.
The music is haunting and joyful, the dancing is exhausting to witness yet celebratory.
Somehow when Riverdance was on its farewell tour a number of years ago,
I wasn’t able to attend.
When I learned the company was touring to celebrate 20 years, I decided
even if I went solo, I was going.
Keeping my cool, I casually asked Court if she was interested in seeing the show
and she said sure.
I inquired of Carlen and she kind of groaned and said yeah I guess so.
I didn’t wait for any minds to change and
proceeded to purchase tickets online.
I had a budget and decided the 1st balcony would be just fine.
No matter how I tried, I kept getting an error message and could not complete my order.
I was forced to call a ticket agent. I say forced because the site clearly stated
not to call for ticket orders.
Thankfully my plea was answered by the most kind helper,
who inquired about my seat selection and once she had this information,
she asked if I wanted closer seats.
Absolutely but my budget and we are three short women who do not want to risk
our view being obliterated by tall patrons of the arts.
I suspected she wanted to make a higher dollar sale, but she assured me
she had orchestra level tickets for the same price and this way we would see their faces.
You want to see their faces.
So off we three short women hustled through downtown Portland in pursuit of
We found our section entrance and our seats. Superb.
Then I got a little giddy.
As I fidgeted in my seat, I wondered if the same magic would be
present. I knew every song, the order and the timing of every breath of each vocalist.
As the lights dimmed and the first tones of the music vaulted into the room, I found
myself already crying.
Breathe, I reminded myself.
Simply enjoy the event.
I exhaled and let the Riverdance world captivate me. Again.
And because I knew this music by heart, I also knew when it would end.
I felt equally sad and happy but grateful it lived up to the memory.
The crowd rose to their feet from floor to ceiling and clapped endlessly
and the dancers tapped faster and faster and stopped only in obedience
to muscle fatigue.
Carlen (she who previously groaned) leaned across Courtney to say she was surprised
how well she knew the music and when she realized it was ending she felt sad.
Over sandwiches and sodas, we debriefed about Riverdance.
It wasn’t until that moment we realized how much Riverdance had become a part of the
soundtrack of our three lives. The girls would probably add The Wiz as well.
By now, nearly 800 words invested, it is clear how deep my affection
runs for this stage show.
I believe what truly moves me even beyond the music
and the dancing is laying hold of excellence.
Excellence strengthens the beat of my heart and floods my eyes.
Do you know what I mean?
It’s a gymnast sticking a landing at the Olympics or a diver achieving a rip entry into the pool.
It’s fingers coursing over black and white keys creating a soul-shaking melody.
Sometimes it’s a group of children singing one song in all sorts of tunes, yet it is not
one note shy of perfection.
Excellence usually requires hard work and effort but other times it simply arises
from the purest of hearts.
Are you wondering about the title of this post?
Well, here’s the thing.
It’s Advent, the season of marking the 4 or sometimes even 5 Sundays
Oh how I love Advent but I have often made it difficult.
I have attempted to do too many activities and readings to commemorate the
occasion, by the middle of December, I am defeated and exhausted.
This is what I have realized about Advent and the approaching birth of Christ.
The verses and passages from scripture are so familiar.
If you are a follower of Christ, you know them by heart.
You know the order and what comes next.
Even if you aren’t inclined to open a Bible, break out Charlie
Brown Christmas and give a listen to Linus
orating from the book of Luke,
this season is steeped with familiarity.
You know the story.
Often I wonder when approaching God’s Word if it will be full
of the thrill and wonder from when I first believed.
I curl up in a chair when the lights are low, wade through
the same passages for the same reason, for the same season
and hope that the sameness won’t abolish the glory and mystery.
It’s a circle without end because I long for wonder but I desperately need sameness.
I need Jesus to be the same yesterday, today and forever.
I need to read those familiar words because they place me in the best
seat for each stage of my life.
His words equally bring me to tears and create smile lines.
The Bible is the word track of my life.
This season of Advent, I am not doing more because often
it was about proving to God I was willing to give Him
a big stage show of my love.
His coming needs the center stage spotlight,not my tap dancing.
I am breathing,
lighting a candle each night and speaking or listening to time-tested words.
I will sit in my assigned and paid for seat, pour over His words and
let the curtain rise in front of my face long enough to see His excellence
Whether I am solo or among the masses,
I want to see His face.
Because I am smitten, entranced and captivated by Him.
Again and again.
Amen and amen.
And do you know what?
The lines in my smile will deepen as the promised ending approaches.