It was shortly after we had visited Castel Sant’Angelo that I saw it: The magical bridge crossing the Tiber River, connecting the two sides of Rome.
I have since learned that there are many bridges crossing the Tiber; but it was this one that caught and held my attention: El Ponte Vittoria Emanuele II.
I didn’t know at the time that this particular bridge had been in use since 1911. I didn’t know it connected historic Rome to the Vatican City. I didn’ t know it was named after Vittorio Emanuele II, and had I know that, my 7-year-old mind wouldn’t have even cared to know who that was. All I saw was the fairy-tale-like pillars on each end, supporting these huge, winged bronze creatures. It was definitely something out of one of my comic books, and I couldn’t have been more enthralled. And as if that wasn’t enough “magic”, there were four enormous sculptures, two on each side, lining the edges of the bridge. It was definitely a dream-come-true for an imaginative little boy, and I couldn’t stop myself from singing out the words to a silly childhood song at the top of my lungs:
Sur le pont d’Avignon,
On y dance, on y dance.
Sur le pont d’Avignon,
On y dance tout le temp!
Loosely translated, this French nursery rhyme says, “We dance on the bridge of Avignon, we dance all the time”! And as those words came out of my mouth, my feet started dancing. At age 7, I didn’t care who saw me. I didn’t care what they thought! All I cared about was dancing on that phenomenal bridge! And I couldn’t have been happier when my mom started dancing with me, and before long, my older brother and my dad joined us. Talk about having fun!
No, I will never forget Ponte Vittoria Emanuele II. Partially because of the nostalgia it evoked in my mind, yes; but mostly because of the fun we all had as a family that day. I had never seen my brother or my father dance at all, and I had never had my mother dance with me in public. Neither had I seen any of them look so happy. What they did that day served to solidify a vitally important message in my mind: My family loved me!
There are so many lessons to be learned from my little dance on the Ponte Vittoria Emanuele II.
First of all, a lesson to all parents out there: It doesn’t matter how silly it may look to you. Little things like dancing with your child on a beautiful bridge sends undeniably important messages to that child, ones that can’t be communicated in any other way: They are important to you!
Secondly, a lesson to all of us: When our feet start to dance, our heads shouldn’t stop them! So often we corral our emotions; yet these same emotions are a God-given gift to us. Why not express them?
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly: Let’s don’t pass up opportunities to praise the Lord for His mercies, for His goodness, and for His abundant blessings! God places so many opportunities in our lives for us to experience joy and happiness. He continually blesses us, yet so often we ignore these opportunities, these blessings. We look at them as “ordinary” and “mundane”, or we don’t make the time required to adequately appreciate them. But when we fail to acknowledge God’s blessings, even the smallest of them, aren’t we sending a message to God? One that perhaps says we don’t appreciate His blessings?
One of King David’s favorite expressions of love to God was to dance. He danced often, he danced hard, and he didn’t care what people thought of him. 2 Samuel 6 tells the story of the ark of the Lord being brought to Jerusalem. David was rejoicing: “So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing...Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might.” (Vs. 12, 14 NIV)
He knew he was dancing for the glory of God, and he didn’t let anyone stop him. Not even his wife, Michal: “Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart…Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!'” (Vs. 16, 20 NIV)! David’s response? He reprimanded her! “David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.‘” (Vs. 21,22 NIV).
Let’s take lessons from King David — and perhaps from a 7-year-old Belgian boy on vacation with his family in Rome as well. Let’s give God glory for all that He has done, is doing, and will do in the future. Let’s not worry about what people think. Rather, to the glory of God, let’s go dancing on the bridge… “Sur le pont d’Avignon on y dance tout le temp”!
In His love,
To access the entire “Through the Eyes of a Child” devotional series, please click here!