She has this skirt–it’s bright red, with a taffeta lining, and it’s sequined. Like, all over. It was purchased off the Target holiday rack in late October for the “Vocabulary Parade,” at her school. Her word to evoke in costume for said parade was “sparkly.” Hence the skirt…which has been stashed in her closet ever since, unworn.
This morning, as I was hastily applying mascara (and running through my own wardrobe possibilities for a rainy and dreary and cold Monday as I did), I heard her voice from behind me, asking, “Mommy, can I wear this skirt today? Please?”
I turned to see what she meant and there, in her hands, was the sequined red skirt. Some greater power than me choked back the “Um…no, I don’t think so,” that immediately tried to break free from my mouth. The skirt isn’t practical…at all. It isn’t even particularly tasteful…at all. I mean, it was purchased for a costume! It isn’t really school day wear…at all.
But there she stood. Asking so sweetly. Clearly with a plan in place for what she’d wear with it. As I said, there was a greater power than me at work because it was against my own will that I said…”Yes. Yes you can.” And that face, that face that I love more than anything on this whole Earth, lit up and off she ran to her room, hollering out “Thank you Mommy!”
As I watched her walk in to school almost an hour later, the skirt having been cheekily paired with a turquoise top, black leggings, and pink leopard-print rain boots, I smiled, all the way to my own boot-clad feet, and I thought, “You go, sweet girl, rocking that skirt like nobody’s business and making your mama’s heart sing while you do.”
Because here’s the thing…I can hear the world groaning this Monday morning. Crying out in fear and chaos and pain. 2015 is off to one helluva start, no? Missing planes and terrorist attacks and more people dying at the hands of guns in the United States (not that this even seems to be news anymore). Meanwhile Boko Haram keeps doing what they do and also somehow we’re supposed to figure out how Cliff Huxtable became synonymous with sexual assault. Not a whole lot makes sense on the public stage, never mind our own personal struggles.
Goodness abounds…I know this, and I trust this…but at the same time that goodness seems to be locked in daily battle with so much that threatens to undo us all.
Meanwhile, little girls beg to wear red-sequined skirts, and today, I say, “Why the hell not?!?” Life is too short, too unpredictable, too “brutiful” (thank you, Glennon!) not to. All over the world, in places so dark and scary I cannot even imagine their realities, little girls my daughter’s age have to claw out their daily existence from whatever small miracles come their way, all of it in the face of poverty and disease and rape and civil war. I’d send them all a red-sequined skirt if I could, as a sign of my care and a testament to their precious worth.
Somehow, the skirt my daughter is wearing today has become sacred garb, its flashes of light sacrament of all things beautiful…things she reminds me of on a daily basis, even when we’re facing off like two hens about to go at it…things like hope and ingenuity and grace (such grace!) and compassion. Things that matter the most in this life…most especially in the face of all that would say otherwise.
So here’s to red-sequined skirts and the sweet mercy of children who know how to dream…how to be alive…how to love…and my most fervent prayers this morning for the ones who don’t know…the children who have been lost in our madness…the children for whom this world must seem like such hell.
Even if she doesn’t know it, today, she’s wearing that skirt for all those children, too.