Friday, April 30, 2010

The Indian Princess, Unveiled

Conclusion of this story series.

A Performance of “Riverdance.”
Wednesday night.
Norton Center for the Arts.
Danville, Kentucky.

She dances.

My breath, caught in my throat, struggles to expel through my lungs, but I am holding it fast … while she dances.

She stands atop a staircase, against a backdrop of tall flames, her crimson dress matching the image of consuming fire.

She dances.

She raises her arms over her head, mimicking the arc of ire, moving, bending … writhing.

She dances.

Is she symbolic fire?

Is the fire symbolic of her?

Is the flame … within her?

I cannot tell which. Perhaps it is one, perhaps all three, but there’s no mistaking that as I watch muy bonita, she most definitely personifies one thing for me: My Indian Princess of long ago.

She whirls down the stairway, her skirt flaring as she whips her hips and stomps dainty dancing shoes. The drum rhythm, repetitive and primitive, accelerates. She and the beat are one, passionate, painful, unrelenting, unstoppable.

I see her dancing on the hot coals, my Indian Princess, unveiled, exposed, burning, hurting. She is all that I am, all that I feel, all that I have experienced. She is the anguish churning in my heart. Salt touches my lips, and I realize that tears have traveled down my cheeks. I am transfixed, just as I was on that long ago summer night around the campfire at age 10, listening to the teen-age camp counselor weave the tale of the princess in search of love.


She is surrounded by other dancers. They move with her, angling with the direction of her body, bringing their arms around her waist and behind her back.

And they lift her.

High above their heads, she is held. They dance in her place. I see in my mind’s eye the suitor who grabbed the princess, rescued her from the coals and danced in her place.

It all makes sense, this journey, one that began with a child’s imaginings, continued in a symbolic lifelong habit of walking on hot sand and pavement and culminated here, on this night, watching this skilled dancer unknowingly play out the tale.

No longer does it matter what I am experiencing – the harshness of life, the unfairness of circumstances, the heartache of my soul.

I do not have to dance on the hot coals alone.

I can be – and I am being – carried. Others are lifting me up, dancing in my place, bringing my concerns before my Father. They’ve always been there for me, too, these princes and princesses, stomping their feet, fervently praying, taking my place when I am too weak to stand alone and utter the words, “Help me. Dance for me.”

They are the Christian safe house.

They are the Indian suitor, rescuers, who love and who sustain.

They … are you.

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