The Gypsy Camp

Monday was ballet, not for the girls but for me. In my class there are 3 others, tiny in framed individuals, none standing taller than 5’4” petite on all accounts, then in walks me, bright magenta hair, big in stature from all accounts, and bigger in personality. My first instinct is to hide, but there is nowhere to go. I am a plushy sized woman desiring to be normal, wanting to not be so tall, or so big….My deepest desire since I was little was to fit in, rather to blend in… even better to hide…But here, there is nowhere to go, that I cannot be seen, I quickly think I should leave, maybe I am not wanted because of my stature. Then in an ocean of negativity, a thought pulled from my inner core, “NO, I WILL NOT HIDE ANYMORE… I will stay and fight… I was MADE to stand out, I would not be SO tall and larger framed than the rest if it were not so… SO I will stay and shine from the inside out. I dodge the eyes of judgment from the others for coming in late (seems like I am always late these days) and I quickly join the ranks at the Barre, refusing to hate my own appearance in the mirror I get into first position and start to warm up with the others, shaking off all of the negative thoughts sent from the pit, I begin to dance.

As I am doing what seems to be my four hundredth squat (plié) for the night, I realize that I am NOT being corrected like all the other ladies are, it hits me… I actually AM GOOD at this, and this truth starts to go deep, and to erase another word spoken over my persona as a small child, clumsy and a battle begins. Plié’ into second (not clumsy), Grand plié into fifth (not clumsy!), plié back to second (NOT CLUMSY!), switch sides. As I am repeating this pattern over and over again, tears start to fall from my eyes, I AM graceful and on point. I can DO ALL THINGS…. Then it hits me, I am FULL of grace inside and out. Both given and received, both natural and supernatural. Tears, and more tears… I start to shine as I find my rhythm and my place. And then revelation comes through the tears and the pain in my thighs, HE is there, in this and through this again guiding my steps in this class, through the art of dance and in life… grace, grace, and MORE grace… So I dance on…

As I Grand Plié my night away I realize that my whole life God has always been there seen and unseen… and in all my years on this Earth, I can never boast that I found Him, rather HE has always found me. He has always been there awaiting my call to Him and given me the grace to walk out whatever crossed my path. There is a beauty that can be found in a life surrendered to the Lord, even an imperfect one… AND YES, I AM imperfect, I AM flawed, but I am beautiful for it, for I am NOT cookie cutter, not in looks, nor in shape, not even in my Faith… A Stepford I am NOT…BUT HE finds me still, in the middle of a thousand Pliés, in the mist of my self induced trials, in the midst of my flaws, He finds me in the midst of all my imperfections, and He even finds me in the midst of my Screw-ups or Naively being led astray… and what does HE do? He gives me a DO-over, He picks me up, dusts me off, tells me I am lovely still then sets my feet back on the ROCK, and focus’ my eyes back on Him…

I AM a dancer, I am an artist, I am a daughter, I am an heir, I can do ALL things… I SHINE, I glitter, I glow…. I am unashamed, I am full of grace, I am a mirror image… of,…. Of?….. OF HIM!!!… I know WHO I AM….

But there was a time where in my life where, who I was, was unclear, I thought I knew, knew for sure…I mean I was a warrior right? Or was I not? I fought down many spiritual things had I not?… But yet my identity was quickly shadowed by others and their need to control the supernatural. I was told to comply, told to obey, to not ask questions…. To know that my well being was being considered… But was it?… Somehow I was convinced that freedom was actually slavery to fear , and that unconditional LOVE was given to those who were compliant…Feeling a deep loss of not having a mother, I gave my heart to a woman who said I could call her mama, she took me in, helped me (she DID help me), fed me HER truths, allowed me to feel love (CONDITIONALLY)…Feeling a false sense of security I put down my sword, traded it for a tambourine, hid my armor deep in a rustic chest, and left my KNOWING HIM, for a rogue Gypsy and her promise to mother me…

Her skin was like golden leather kissed by the sun, her hands LOOKED like work, thick with experience, aged with knowhow. She bent low into the wash basin, plunging a muslin shirt into the water sending soapy suds spilling over the basin onto the Earth creating a subtle layer of mud beneath her bare feet. Her hands beat a rhythm across the washboard, and with the rhythm of the board there was a humming…. A low song sung in beat with the board. The tune was hummed with a raspy but sweet voice, letting an occasional word escape from her reticent hum. Being a larger woman her hips and bottom were swarthy and bending sent the backside of her skirt into a ruffled tizzy of objection. Her knees cracked with age as she bent. She was the Matriarch of the group, beautiful and powerful, with aged set eyes that told a story, many stories. Her lips spoke freedom but her actions would prove far from that… She moved in what looked like power and authority, but she was far from it… She was manipulation and control… and she was known as Mama Gypsy.

I was fifteen, my family was in the process of being ripped apart due to an unfaithful parent, I was just saved and raging with anger deep inside from all of the injustice in my home and done to me by others. I didn’t just hurt, I was on fire. Because I didn’t accept the divorce I was seen as rebellious and noncompliant, I was taken to Pastoral authority and they were told I was so, but not why… Church discipline is never fun… Not when you are 5, 15 or 30… It was thought best that I should be placed in counseling and given a mentor. My mentor ended up being a woman who was a free thinker, she treaded upon the hydra herself once and won. I liked her, no, I LOVED her… She taught me to warfare, she taught me rightly, I learned to expel dragons from the land, I received love and for a short moment it was healthy… She was free to be, so it seemed… She was my Gypsy Mama.

Labeled as rebellious I was set in her care, I was her charge with the hopes that she would round out the rough edges… She took my hand and my heart and I learned what she knew. I was the only 16 year old that I knew who willing wrestled with dragons, drove serpents from the land, and learned to breathe fire. For a moment I knew who I was, I was a hand maiden for HIM….For a moment I could rend the Heavens and the Heavens eagerly responded… For a moment I was blinded by a false sense of love and righteousness… I let down my guard and took off my armor, for bangles and sashes, for braids and I danced in drum circles with ribbons spinning around me… “’Hear O’ Israel’…what? I dunno, I cannot finish it…” The words seemed distant to me now, I was caught up in the smoke and mirrors and loving every minute of it… That is until…

Her eyes were sharp; the scarf clutched her hair… It was the color purple a true royal color, she swore it had magical Christian powers to draw her closer to God…to hear HIS words… I should have seen it coming, I didn’t, I was plunged deep into spiritual abuse and control… the bells on my ankles sang the same bellowing hum she did, I was under spell. Mama Gypsy had gone rogue, I and others were caught in her wake… She fought tooth and nail, I heard it, I saw it… She painted the Pastors of the church as Hating and Self serving individuals to be feared, hungry for control, eager to rebuke. I was warned, steer clear… STAY FAR AWAY…., “But?…. What if they are right?…” “THEY ARE NOT!!! My child…” she seethed… “Come; let me pray over you, you must have a serpent hiding in the ruffles of your skirts.” COMPLIANCE…. Every time… I learned to speak little and to think much, I learned to ask HER what my HIM was saying, instead of just asking HIM… I had a mama, I was LOVED for the first time in my life… But why did this love leave me so empty?…. Why was I aching worse than before….? I didn’t know who I was anymore… I needed to get away.

I ran…, from the edges of the Gypsy encampment I ran… Far away I ran, through the thick of the woods, my feet hitting the ground smack, thud, smack, thud, with a panicked song coming from my bells and bangles. Curly brown hair stuck to my tears as I ran, I needed to know the truth… I am so confused… WHY does God HATE me so? Where is my HIM?… I don’t know anymore who I am… I DO NOT BELIEVE IN HIM ANYMORE, HE IS NOT REAL…He CANT be… can HE?…. I am lost… I got off course… Panting I stop at the edge of a lake, kneeling in the twilight I stare deep into my own reflection searching it for answers, I lean forward to see a gypsy staring back at me, a face I used to know… I used to be a warrior; I used to have a home and an Identity, now I am a nomad… Staring deeper into the water with loneliness and a deep sense of loss, the water clears a bit and then another set of eyes, I was NOT alone….

Startled I turned, His eyes met mine, they were NOT the eyes of my HIM, but they were big, and gentle. “Here, let me help you up.” He glowed a soft glow, just a man, yet so much more… young and stout hearted… He was Dark and Handsome, Innocent yet alluring… and gentle, and kind, and…

His dark clothes were the same color I wore before I had met my HIM. I asked the young man if he had known my HIM, he said he had not. He said he had never even HEARD of HIM and was interested in knowing what I knew about HIM… I told the young man of my story, my gypsy mama, my flight and what a free spirit I was. We sat at the edge of the lake for the longest time, laughing and giggling, in the light of the pale moon. The fireflies twinkled in the night, calling to the one who was meant for them… Giving a reply with the twinkle of their own lights… We sat bare foot on the muddy marsh, we sat giggling into the night, I sat twirling a little purple flower plucked from the river bank by the young man. My toes and soles were muddied, my dress muddier… “Do you not believe in shoes my little gypsy princess? Here let me help you up… Your HIM you speak of? I have never met HIM per say, but I think I saw Him once high on a mountain top, let me take you back to HIM, you need Him,.” He took my hands, lifted me up, wiped the tears and curls away from my face, he leaned in and kissed my cheek… He was warm and soothing, his sent brought me comfort. I breathed him in deep and he embraced me for the first time, I knew it was to be just one of many more to come, for I knew in THAT moment I was to marry this man…. I was now 19.

And this is where I leave you dear reader, to dance upon injustice, to have purpose and identity, to know WHO YOU ARE because you know WHO HE IS… To be reunited with HIM however that may be, to have a voice, to shimmer, to glitter, and to shine from the inside out…


With Love,





5 thoughts on “The Gypsy Camp

  1. I love your magenta hair. (I painted my toes magenta this week.) I love that you decided not to fit in, not to hide, not to run and that you stayed and danced. I want my body to work again so that I can dance again. Dance Nichol….. dance your heart out. Dance before your King. Dance before the world. Just DANCE!!!!


  2. oh wow Nichol! you amaze and inspire me! what a life you’ve led! I want more! you need to write a book! you’re one of a kind! you are truly one blessed woman!


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