Someone was going to dare him to be happy, even if just for the length of a song.
I noticed Jeremy, who was standing next to Laura, his therapist. While everyone else was singing and waving their arms to the music, Jeremy stood unmoved, and unmovable, like a stone pillar. His arms were folded across his chest. He wore a defiant scowl. He refused to show even a hint of willingness to enter into the celebration and spontaneous joy of the moment. Jeremy was clearly not in a spirit of celebration or joy.
Jeremy’s demeanor was rooted in the very unstable and uncertain environment from which he came. Jeremy’s sour expression was such a contrast to the overwhelming joy and frivolity that surrounded him, but he seemed particularly annoyed on this night. It’s understandable. Jeremy may simply have had bigger things on his mind. It happens to all of our kids. No matter how happy the occasion, they often struggle.
Jeremy’s therapist, Laura, was singing and swaying in time to the music. She saw her moment to break through the wall that Jeremy built between himself and others—and she did so almost literally!
Laura began to sway more and more widely, in an exaggerated fashion, until she bumped into Jeremy with her shoulder. He was taken aback. His scowl was now focused on this intruder into his self-imposed solitude. Laura bumped into him again and again as the music continued. Jeremy did not budge. He did not smile. In fact, the more Laura hounded Jeremy to let down his guard and to give joy a try, the more annoyed he became.
Laura persisted. She bumped into Jeremy over and over, as if chipping away at that wall. After enough times, a small crack appeared in the façade, and a suggestion of a smile could be seen breaking at one corner of his mouth. Slowly, it widened and became broader. He could no longer beat back his embarrassment and the gratitude he must have felt just knowing that someone cared that much.
Finally, it happened. Jeremy’s arms unlocked and he joined in the rhythmic movement of the song. The music itself, finally, began to flow from his heart and through his lips. Jeremy was actually singing! What a moment of grace!
I have often reflected on that moment… It reminds me how persistent He is in getting our attention, how He chases down the fleeing soul, the lost lamb. God invites us to enter into the dance, the song, the beauty of life.