Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Miracle

The two girls had met one another for the first time that morning. Indeed, they probably hadn't really even acknowledged one another until they were standing together on the stage, solo dancing to the recorded music that we use for our occasional outdoor "dance parties." Before long, however, they found one another and began dancing together.

This by itself is a rather rare thing at our dance parties. The kids usually dance on their own or if they do dance together it is typically more of a wrestle, but these girls were looking into one another's eyes, connecting through the movement of their bodies.

That was usual enough, but then they began, without words, to mirror one another. I've seen children's dance teachers struggle with this very thing, trying to convince preschoolers to imitate one another on the dance floor, with little beyond mechanistic success. I generally think it's frustrating for the adults because the children, like all human beings whatever our age, don't like to be told what to do and so resist it.

But these girls were doing it without prompting, a self-selected activity, or rather it seemed, an activity that had selected them. As I watched, I couldn't tell which one was leading, and as they danced I began to realize that neither of them were "leading," but rather they were studying one another intensely, reacting to something they "read" in one another's facial expressions or gestures or muscles.

It was a small miracles, I thought. They were fully connected, two humans so fully attuned to one another that they were moving as if with a single body.

Then it became a larger miracle. A third girl, another girl who they had just met in this moment, joined them. At first she followed the other girls, imitating them the way those dance teachers envisioned.

Then the other two girls, still without speaking, made room for her, and when they did she instantly became a part of it as well, three children now, dancing as one, going high together, going low together, swinging together, jumping together. There was a spontaneous synchronicity in their movements that surpassed what one usually sees from well-rehearsed high school musicals.

I thought I was the only adult noticing what was happening, but when I looked over my shoulder to draw attention to it, I saw a father with his camera out to record it. All the other adults were standing in groups, watching in silence as if a bit stunned. We knew we were watching something special.

Sadly, music comes to an end. I quickly queued the same song up again, hoping to extend the moment, but it was over and the girls went off to dance their separate dances. But it was a moment I will never forget: the time three strangers looked into one another so deeply, so empathetically, that they became one. It was a miracle.

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