When my friend Erin shared with me the opportunity to volunteer as a photographer for A Royal Affair, a true royal prom for people with diverse abilities ages 14 and older at our local YMCA in Oconomowoc, WI, I could have never have imagined the amount of joy that I would experience being a part of this incredible event. From the moment I walked in the door, I knew I was in for something greater than what I thought I had signed up for. The smiling faces of volunteers were beaming in anticipation as they greeted us and directed us to our prospective areas that we would be serving in for the night.
After putting my coat in the locker rooms, I made my way upstairs and through a crowd full of people dressed to the nine. I looked for the sign that said "Professional Photographers" on the track and waited to meet my comrades that would be documenting the event with me. Local photographers, including Jamie Marquardt, Michael Wright and myself, had donated their time and talents for the evening. After devising a plan to divide and conquer, we were out to the crowds. I had been volunteered to cover the red carpet.
I've never worked a red carpet before; I was a little bit nervous as this one was particularly special. As the participants (which I will refer to as Kings and Queens) entered the ballroom they would be greeted by a paparazzi lining both sides, cheering them on as they made their way to the dance floor. I could feel the excitement growing as we waited for our guests to arrive with their buddies.
Suddenly, I could hear cheering from outside the doors. Our guests had arrived! Over the next hour or so I snapped pictures of the Kings and Queens with their buddies as they entered the ballroom. My breath was taken away by the beautiful dresses, handsome suits, and pearly white grins of all shapes and sizes. I could not stop smiling the entire time and neither could anyone else. I kept saying to the lady standing next to me, "This is so neat!" She nodded in agreement.
After our guests had all arrived, it was time to hit the dance floor. People of all shapes and sizes from every walk of life, were out dancing their hearts out. As I maneuvered my way throughout the crowd, I could not help but think that this is a glimpse of what heaven looks like. I saw everyone, from teachers to hairdressers - even my own doctor - getting their groove on, laughing, and singing along to the music. It was awesome!
As the night wrapped up, I could not help but reflect on my experience. It gave me perspective on what matters in life - that all lives are precious and worth living. It reminded me to take the time to reach out and connect with people, no matter what their background. Most importantly, it reminded me that God's love does not discriminate - it knows no bounds. If we would believe that, and start living it out in our every day lives, the world would be a much brighter place. And, maybe, we could experience that kind of joy and happiness on this side of heaven more often in our everyday lives.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Steines at Becca Marie Design LLC