She starts dancing somewhere in the middle of our first song. As the worship team settles in and focuses and begins to practice "There is Joy," Aliya walks in front of us and proves it.
I try to concentrate on the words.
There is love in His Spirit
There is hope in the knowledge of Him
But that tiny girl has begun spinning and jumping right in front of my microphone, and I can't take my eyes or my thoughts off of her.
She's wearing a green corduroy jumper and white tights and tennis shoes. Her strawberry blonde hair, secured in the front with five miniature clips, hangs in springy tendrils past her shoulders. As she spins and dances, those curls come alive.
She dances us out of that song and into the next.
Great is Your name in all the earth
The heavens declare You're glorious, glorious
Great is Your fame beyond the earth
And for all You've done and yet to do
With every breath I'm praising You ...
I want to be Aliya. I want my praise of God to bubble up and spill over in every breath, every movement.
We move on.
where Your streams of abundance flow, blessed be Your name
She twirls, and raises her head toward the sky, and smiles.
though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Watching Aliyah, I bless His name.
And then I see Hannah walking through the foyer. She marches like a girl on a mission, straight down the center aisle and toward the worship team and her father. She, too, has living curls, captured (barely) in two springy blonde pony tails that swing in frenzied spirals as she marches. Under one arm, she carries a red book.
"Daddy!" she squeals, in a tone that is one part insistence and three parts pride. "Look at my Bible!" Corey is singing and strumming, but he still manages to convey his approval. She grins, spins, and retraces her march back down the center aisle, pausing at every familiar face to repeat her Bible show-and-tell.
I want to be Hannah.
After worship practice ends and we pray for the service, I look toward the foyer again and see my friend, Noelle, walking through the door with her mother. I make a beeline for her, because we have a routine, this girl and I. She's never said much to me beyond "Shannon!" and "Bye!" but we have our own language, nonetheless. When she sees me, she grins, drops her mother's hand, and starts our shimmy. I mimick her, shaking my waist, laughing, and running through a couple of movements we've added recently. As Noelle performs our "hello" dance, the thin, silver butterfly clipped to her hair shakes as though it might take flight.
She fills my heart, this girl. I watch the pure delight on her face and the joy visibly energizing those little arms and legs, and I want to be Noelle.
Make me a child again, Lord.
Then Jesus called the children over to him and said to the disciples, "Let the little children come to me! Never send them away! For the Kingdom of God belongs to men who have hearts as trusting as these little children's. And anyone who doesn't have their kind of faith will never get within the Kingdom's gates." --Luke 18:16 (TLB)