They hang on a hook in my small closet, which ordinarily has no space for sentimentality. Dancers often refer to old pointe shoes as “dead,” a quirk that has transcended every city, every state, every country where I've danced: “My shoes are dead.”
And my pointe shoes are, unquestionably, dead.
Did I know, when I tied satin ribbons around my ankles on Christmas Eve, it would be my final dance en pointe? I surely thought so; I’ve had many “last times” as time, gravity, and the birth of five children altered the shape of my body, my feet. But something always draws me back. Perhaps the defiance of a human body achieving, through strength and balance, the lightness of a bird? I tug the shoes on and, encased in barely more than papier-mâché and prayers, I rise to the tips of my toes. If dance embodies the sensation of flight, dancing en pointe is the closest I come to transcending gravity while on earth.
Sometimes waiting takes practice, discipline; patience is needed to strengthen feet and ankles every day of Advent through exercises that are boring and repetitive at best, in hopes of that glorious, gravity-defying lift. The shank presses against my arch, the air flows around my body as I move, every stretch, every curve, matters more as I balance. The smell of the rosin I crush beneath my toes speaks to me of hope.
Gravity found me, not long after Christmas Eve, in a small rock on the street. I stumbled, injured two tendons, and tore a ligament. After months of physical therapy, I took my pointe shoes out of my dance bag and hung them on the hook in the closet.
I hold on to my belief that after Jesus’ return, we will be lifted up into a space where there is no pain, no injury. We will reside in glorified bodies. In that body, will I be so transformed I won’t need pointe shoes to rise?
In this season of waiting, I continue to dance. No longer en pointe, now I find different ways of moving, of connecting with space and time and gravity. I am changing how I wait—and I believe, just as surely, the waiting is changing me.