It was during the bustle of Christmas performances at the church I grew up in. Winter chills clamored onto large, wooden doors to the sanctuary lobby. Guests were piling in sluggishly from the weather. The performers hid themselves behind the curtains and back rooms.
Older members adorned in black outfits, actors and actresses getting primped and pampered up in their chairs by the makeup artists, different stages of dance age-groups skippering around. The head costumer was on stand-by for mishaps and necessary, quick-fixes. Everyone had their place. Many had played different roles in each. Others were still accustoming themselves to the hectic pounding of the church-body’s organs.
Where the heart lied was in one single room behind the stage to the sanctuary. A milky-brown console piano patiently sat in the front, while the carpeted steps angled themselves up toward opposite doors. They were the arms which circulated into hallways and different changing rooms. It all pulsed itself nervously against the orchestra tuning themselves out in the pit. The conductor had prepped and readied himself for the night ahead.
For as long as I’ve been caught in the cheer of Jesus and shepherds and Bethlehem, I had also known the desire of the age levels of dance in this ecosystem. I had been Mary herself on a float for the children’s parade and I had been paraded in a little puffy-sleeved dress tied with a long, black bow in the “kids” dance chorale. But, I wanted the best costume yet. I wanted to be an angel engulfed in white chiffon fabric. The young teenage to adult ladies were given this privilege; after all, they were grown and beautiful and disciplined.
They came through the heart-room in a silent, orderly row—getting ready for the “angel” number. I was lined on one of the steps with my little chorale group. We all looked up as they passed us, so I outstretched my child hand to reach their wings flowing across and drenching the floor. I felt like the woman grasping for Jesus’ robe. The other kids twinkled their fingers to feel as well.
I was touched by an angeeel.
This, one child exclaimed in a squeaky tone. We giggled, so did some of the angel women. I told my myself, committed even, that I would be next. Someday I would.
I grew up. Paid my dues to the years of dance and work for the program. I finally wore the white wings and trialed my way in performing in them. I memorized and practiced my pointed toes for ideal elegance.
All the ladies pranced by the new set of children’s chorale. They stared up at me, wide-eyed and with plump faces at all of us spreading our costumes along the bustling floor. And I knew, those babes were the ones caught in the billow of my angel wings.