Let me begin by saying that I am thankful for Sarah Clarkson. Her book recommendations (see Read for the Heart) have given me opportunities to present truth and beauty to my children in a thousand delightful ways. One of my favorite “Sarah” recommendations is a book called My Mama Had a Dancing Heart (written by Libba Moore Gray, illustrated by Raul Colon). I checked it out from the library and read it to my daughter exactly one time before deciding that we needed to own it.
One glance at the cover will lull you into a sense of joyful contentment. Colon’s illustrations are bright and warm, the colors bleeding gently into one another. He depicts the mother and daughter in a way that makes my heart ache. They wear breezy dresses and glamorous hats, and sometimes they weave flowers into their hair.
Then there are the opening lines, which tell you all you really need to know about the story. “My mama had a dancing heart,” Gray says, “and she shared that heart with me.” How wonderful! Here is a mother who lives life as though each day is worth celebrating. She might kick off her shoes and run into the rain to dance a “frog-h
opping, leaf-growing, flower-opening hello spring ballet,” or she might don her coat and rush out into the snow with her daughter to “dance in slow motion, like hand-mittened, galoshes galumphing funny old snowmen.”
Here is a woman who presses autumn leaves in wax paper and ties balloons to her wrists while she collects shells from the seaside. She reads rain poems and makes sassafras tea and sips cocoa and c
uts “snowflakes paper-white delicate.” Here is a woman I want to emulate, not because I have any gift for dancing, but because I want my heart to dance through life, skipping lightly over the dark patches with as much candor and joy as I can muster, and drinking in the precious moments with my children, awakening them to the wonder and beauty of every season.
And when my daughter is grown and gone, I hope she can honestly say that I celebrated life, and celebrated her, and that I did not keep my joy to myself. I hope she’ll find a little dancing tune in her own heart. And I hope she will soar.
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Image by Paul Boekell