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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #83

[The story is set in about 1910.  Jennifer Hill is visiting her aunt in Chicago and has started taking ballet lessons.  She is dancing a special solo in the Spring Festival, and as the date approaches she is getting more and more nervous.  Her aunt's servant, Dorcas, notices Jennifer's lack of appetite.]      "I just can't eat, Dorcas."      "You know why?"      "My stomach's all jumpy."      Dorcas smoothed the towels and laid them in the drawer.  She fixed Jennifer with a steady stare.  She said solemnly, "Your stomach ain't got enough faith."      Jennifer took this at its surface meaning.  She had no reply.      "You got to have faith in your stomach same as in your head."      Jennifer leaned against the table and twitched the knife round and round on the breadboard.  Her toes tapped the brick floor.  Her thoughts drifted.       Dorcas said, "You ever heard 'bout faith movin' mountains?"       "What?  Oh, yes!  I've heard that."      "If it can move mountains, don't you think it can move some little ol' spindleshanks like yours?"      Jennifer laughed thinking about it.  Her attention was caught as by a riddle.  She reached for the application of Dorcas' maxim.      "What's goin' to be goin' to be.  You can't change it."      "Oh, Dorcas," Jennifer groaned, "do you mean it doesn't do any good for me to practice?"      "Sure it do good.  That's part of what's goin' to be.  You made like you is.  You can't do different.  But you can't change how things goin' to turn out.  So you got to have faith."      Jennifer stared for a brief moment, her mouth open.  "Oh!"  It was as though she sucked the thought in with her breath.  "I see what you mean."      It was like the sun filtering through thick foliage to touch at last the earth beneath and warm it.  What would be would be, Jennifer repeated silently.  You had to believe that if it was given you to dance, you would dance, and nothing could stop it or spoil it.  You had to have faith that if you did your best, then in that best you couldn't fail.       A sense of peace came with this knowing, a new confidence.  "You don't need to get all stewed up," she told herself.  The thought was bright as sunshine.  Calm down and eat and let your stomach rest and your body relax.  You'll do all right.  You just have to know you will.  That was faith.       A tender, grateful feeling bathed Jennifer's heart.  She threw her arms around Dorcas and hugged her hard.  "I know what you mean."  Her voice was low  "I could eat some bread and milk right now."  It was a breathed-out sigh.  -Eunice Young Smith, Jennifer Dances (1954), pp. 219-221

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