Seeing a family rally around their daughter at a New Year’s Eve party reminded me of the worth of each child of God.
A few months ago, my extended family hosted an Ecuador-themed New Year’s Eve party in their chapel in Salt Lake. Towards the end, the DJ turned on a traditional Ecuadorian folk song and announced that a prize would be given to the best dancer of that song.
The music began and the most serious dancers of the evening moved to the center of the floor and began to create moves to match the tune. The song had a medieval feel, almost like Irish or Celtic music with stomping drums and noble bagpipes.
As the dance-off began, I noticed a young lady who danced close to where I was sitting. Her feet were tapping a quick rhythm to the medieval tune as she held her hands behind her back and tilted her gaze up towards the ceiling. She was a beautiful, lovely girl, made even more beautiful by her intricate footwork synchronized perfectly with the music.
I noticed that she was not dancing alone. Holding hands and dancing in a circle around her were the members of her family. Her younger sisters and her mother and father were laughing and smiling as they too, being excellent dancers, matched the rhythm of their circle to the beat of the song. They rallied around the young woman, cheering for her, shouting her name, and giving their whole hearts and souls to the dance.
Then, in a moment, I saw the gymnasium of that church building transform into a medieval palace. There were suddenly crowds of people gathered around, dressed in old burlap clothes. The lights were dim, and people rested their drinks on wooden circle tables as a group of musicians on one end continued playing the medieval tune. In the middle of the room, where the tables were pushed apart to make an open floor, danced the young girl and her family.
The music picked up speed and her feet began to tap even faster. Her gray boots clapped harder against the old wood floor, but all the while, she never broke her focus as she kept her gaze pointed up toward the sky.
The clamor and cheering in the room increased, and a servant brought out a roasted pig with an apple in its mouth while great bottles of wine were passed around to fill everyone’s cups.
The song’s tempo increased again and the family continued their synchronized dance around her, their steps no less intricate than hers. Their eyes glistened as they shouted her name and cheered for their young woman, who moved faster and faster, her eyes still lifted up to the ceiling, until the song reached its climax.
Then, on the great ending note of the song, the father jumped out of the circle and kneeled in front of his daughter, his hands outstretched towards the sky, as his daughter struck her final pose, one fist held straight up in the air. The pair held this position as the roaring crowd in the palace clanked their glasses and cheered louder than I’ve ever heard before.
I looked at the father, still kneeling on the ground, catching his breath, as he gazed into his daughter’s eyes. The sound in the room slowly faded away as I saw the purest love spread over his face. This father was indeed a king. He wore a white pleated shirt and his silver hair was combed neatly across his head. Although his face was red from all the movement, his complexion was clear and handsome.
But what struck me most was the honor and respect he gave to his daughter, the great princess of the evening. It seemed that the whole family, including the mother and the other daughters, had decided to set aside any self-centeredness that night and give the whole glory of the dance to their older sister and daughter. As they danced around her, all their attention and their shouted adulations were centered on her. And because of her family’s love, she was indeed the most beautiful young lady in the room.
Now, my friends, while I was not literally transported to a medieval palace that night, I did, in fact, see a father, a mother, and some children turn all of their focus and love towards a young woman for an evening as they circled around her in a great familial dance.
I saw a regal father literally kneel down in front of his daughter and give her the glory of the dance as a crowd of hundreds applauded.
And I think I saw the confidence of a young woman increase just a little, a few days before she was to return to school for a new semester to confront the many challenges that young people face in our day.
I have been in homes where daughters are demeaned and discouraged, chastised and chided. But I have also seen heavenly families who love their daughters, who rally around them, and who say to them,
“Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all” (Proverbs 31:29).
To my sisters, my mother, and all the other women in my life, I say: Thank you for who you are. I love you. And to all others, I say, repeating the words of a moving proclamation,
“Each [human being] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995).
May we treat each of our brothers and sisters according to this divine heritage, and thus enjoy the blessings of life’s greatest bliss: love at home.