On that fateful day, my husband and I were staying in a hotel in Portland, Oregon, our “home” for six weeks. After the early morning phone call alerting us to the tragedy, we sat, as those all over the world, in shock as we watched the events unfolding before us on the morning of September 11th, 2001.
Alone in a new city, trying to gather our bearings, we lived the next few days in a fog. I felt guilty for laughing. After all, How could I be happy when so much sadness had befallen my fellow Americans? Alone during the day while my husband worked, I navigated this new city by myself. The city was nice enough, but it was not my city. The people were friendly enough, but these were not my people. I was in a different place, surrounded by strangers, as questions of security, stability, and the meaning of life flooded my mind. In this adopted city, the shows of patriotism were overwhelming. Flags were hung outside of buildings. People gathered for candlelight vigils. As a group, we were searching for meaning as the events replayed over and over in our minds. Adults all over the city were concerned. A change had taken place. Times were now different.
One afternoon, as I was walking around the city, I sat on a park bench. The somber mood of the city, and of the entire nation, weighed heavily on my mind. Holding my head in my hands, I began to cry for those lost. When I opened my eyes, I saw her. A young girl, probably five or six, dancing in an outdoor fountain. Seeing the smile on her face, the joy in her movements, my heart began to gladden. I was filled with a sense of calm, of well-being, of knowing that things would be okay. Here, this darling child before me was not burdened. She did not worry for her safety. She was not overwhelmed with sadness. Instead, with her childlike wonder, she was laughing, and dancing, basking in the beautiful day. This was the moment when I saw hope. Hope for our lives and hope for our nation.
It’s possible that when you’re feeling free and unburdened, your first reaction isn’t to dance. But picture a time when you’ve felt like this precious child dancing in the fountain; when you’ve felt light, uninhibited, inspired. I want you to describe that feeling. There is a Hopi Indian saying that says, “To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.” When you “dance,” what does your heart say?