Friday, August 21, 2009

Subtle Lessons

This morning, my family and I went to a nursing home to participate in a service that is catered to the residents. As it is, the pianist had forgotten to come. My sister found herself stationed at the piano with a hymnbook in hand abruptly. Thankfully, her skills are far better than mine so the accompaniment was not bad at all.

The residents sat in a line of straight back chairs. Their wizened face peered out at us from their decrepit bodies. The majority of the congregation was women. If you happen to ever wander in a graveyard, you will notice that the almost all of the gravestones meant for couples already have one occupant usually being the male. Generally, this saddens my heart. Today, I saw them. These women who are waiting to die.

At first, I only looked at them how people generally judge books by the cover. I strained to see deeper and I began to wonder about who loves them. I wondered about the wild and crazy things that they had done in their youth. Lastly, I wondered if they still saw themselves as young deep in the recesses of their tired minds. As I stared at them longer, I began to see myself and my friends in their places in a couple of decades. Strangely, I was not afraid or disgusted. It's the pattern of life.

For the "special music," my sister and I sang "Come Save" by Sarah Reeves. While I did not know if they understood or could even hear the words I was singing, I knew that the music touched their hearts. Throughout the hour that we were there, we sang many a familiar hymn such as "Amazing Grace," "In the Garden," and "Blessed Assurance."

Yet, the thing I found most beautiful was after the service was considered over. My sister began to play an arrangement of Amazing Grace on the piano. I wandered about politely chatting with the residents. I tried conversing with one group of women. It was impossible because they had been swept away by the music. One kindly woman with darker hair was warbling along faintly to Amazing Grace.

This woman's fragile voice stirred something deep within me. Perhaps it was how the music cried for her to join in with the words or maybe it was how quietly yet surely she sang along. Even after she stopped abruptly and bashfully exclaimed that she didn't know the words, I still was filled with wonder. A moment ago, I had taken pride in my own young strong sweet voice. Now, those feeling were stripped away and I was left feeling embarrassed for those prideful thoughts. Her song must have been sweeter to God's ear than mine could ever have been because of my heart.