In Bible Study last week one of my classmates said something which amazed me: "I love watching Margie dance during worship." Another lady quickly agreed: they see the joy and purity in the way my daughter participates within our church family. "I get tears in my eyes watching her."
For me, Sunday worship is tempered by my wanting to let Margie worship in her own way, but having the type of upbringing which makes me too aware that she might be a distraction to others.
I grew up being pinched into good behavior during church. Mother could outwardly make it look like a loving gesture, even while she was delivering a squeeze to that soft bit of skin just above the elbow. That, plus an arched eyebrow, could bring me into quick compliance.
I carried on the tradition with my own children until Margie outed me with an indignant "Ow!" The sound bounced off the acoustics in the sanctuary, and was far more distracting than her squirminess could ever be.
Eventually I let her be. Now an eighth grader, we are in a loving church home where some folks have known her since she was in the nursery.
In our church, some Sundays our praise time becomes a bit spirited. Margie likes to dance in the aisles, and I allow it. Lately, she's been slipping off from our seat to join a friend at the back of the church.
Each time I turn to check on her, Lynn gives me a "thumbs up" - Mom sign language for "she's fine, turn back around."
There's a bit of an alcove in the shape of our sanctuary's back wall. I've investigated this week, and I've found that those two are having an even bigger praise party than I had imagined. Mostly out of sight, they clap and dance and raise their hands. There are some flags tucked away in that corner. If they haven't been waved about already, it's only a matter of time.
Worship was never meant to be prettified and polite. My own spiritual journey has been so personalized, so extraordinary, frankly I should be dancing and shouting far more often than I do.
There's a story in 2 Samuel about David having gone to Obed-Edom to fetch the ark. "David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets."
Michal, Saul's daughter, was watching all this from a window. One version says, "... she despised him in her heart."
She sneered at David, called the display vulgar.
David made no apologies. "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord's people Israel -- I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes."
God gave me the gift of a lifetime when he gave me my Margie. Whatever skills or ability she lacks due to a genetic glitch are compensated by a pure spirit full of joy and love. And - as it turns out - all the really important lessons in life, I've learned from knowing and watching her.
Shout if you want, girl. I won't pinch you.