Angels in tutus

When my daughter turned two I made everyone wear tutus at her birthday party.

A friend had given me two bolts of white tulle – reclaimed from her wedding. It was then a matter of buying several yards of elastic and running amok with a sewing machine the night before the party. It’s important, if you want to feel like someone’s mother, to stay up very late sewing tutus at least once.

When I say I made everyone wear tutus at the party, I should mention that Sugarplum* only had three friends her own age. The party was made up of adults: general contractors, an art gallery owner, a manager from Talbots…you get the idea.

*Not her real name.

Looking back, I realize what good sports my friends are. And we do look back. Do you know what makes for great pictures? Dressing your friends in tutus. It’s impossible to be unhappy looking at pictures of people wearing tutus and party hats. Did I mention I added tufts of tulle to the party hats?

There is a saying: Angels fly because they take themselves lightly. When I was little, my mom would call out a little prayer as I ran down the driveway to the school bus. The quote was “he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” but all she’d say was “angels charge!” I grew up thinking it was a verb. Angels, charge! After all these years, I still try to obey her call.

Sometimes we forget to be charging angels. We take ourselves heavily. We do not think we are angels at all.

Do you know what angels are? There were several at Sugarplum’s second birthday party. They jump out of photographs with light hearts and happy eyes.

Maybe angels are moments. Moments of self-forgetfulness. Moments of joy. Moments of lightness and action (because angels charge). It’s when we take ourselves too seriously that we get bogged down. We let little things unhinge us. Trust me on this. According to Merriam Webster, “lightness” is:

1 the quality or state of being light especially in weight

2 lack of seriousness and stability of character often accompanied by casual heedlessness

3a the quality or state of being nimble

b an ease and gaiety of style or manner

4 a lack of weightiness or force: delicacy

I want to be very clear that I’m not talking about “casual heedlessness” here. I’m going with curtains number three and four. Or even better, Merriam Webster’s alternate definition:

The quality or state of being illuminated: illumination

This morning I was talking to a coworker who had surgery recently. She said the hardest part was asking someone to drive her home. Recently divorced, she was alone and had no one to call.

Finally, she asked her neighbor, who chided her for hesitating. The neighbor drove her to and from surgery, bringing her homemade chicken soup on her return. My coworker noted that the curative properties of the soup were not the ingredients, but the fact that someone made it for her. Later, she discovered her neighbor’s last name is Angel.

Give people a chance to be illuminated.

They are angels just waiting for a tutu.

This column originally appeared in The Magazine of Yoga