Friday, October 14, 2016

Words of Faith: Lee's story about church songs and peace for your mind

A Song of the Mind
A Words of Faith story by Lee Carver

The elderly women behind me in church wouldn’t stop chatting during the prelude. The ladies seemed urged to talk, ignoring this moment of quiet inspiration just to visit, making no attempt to lower their voices. But perhaps they had been lonely all week, I thought. Or maybe there was a certain gene activated in aging women that compelled them to talk during the prelude, during the music, during the sermon. I should be patient. I might be there someday.

Virginia and Ed, a dear couple well known to us, sat down to my left, and I smiled and nodded. It was clear that her losses to Alzheimer’s disease were progressing. An hour before, she had not recognized me. Now Virginia looked directly into my eyes and said in a clear voice, “Where are we?”

On what level should I answer the question? What, exactly, did she want to know? What building we were in? What city? What meeting we were attending?

“We’re in church. We’re going to worship God together,” I answered.

For a moment that satisfied her, and then she asked her husband, “What church? What church is this?” He tried to gently quiet her. Then she took the hymnal from the rack before them and read its title aloud, “The United Methodist Hymnal,” her thin, childlike voice standing out as the congregation stilled. “Oh. That’s nice.”

Virginia loved to sing, and she knew the words to all the verses of the old hymns as the service progressed. On the less familiar songs she bent low over the hymnal held by her husband.

During the offertory, the choir sang a tender and moving hymn arrangement accompanied by the organist and a violinist. Virginia sang along, inaudible more than a few feet, “My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.” She smiled peacefully as she sang, and no one minded a bit.

As they sang, my mind wandered back to last week’s sermon which had deeply impressed me. Dr. Jerry Chism asked the question most painful in a believer’s odyssey: When life is hard, when suffering comes to Christians, is God there with us? To these I added the question which so saddened me today: Why do elderly people who have lived good lives of dedication to God and their families become senile or suffer dementia? Is God still with them as the light of their minds grows dim?

As if answering my question, the choir and Virginia ended their anthem together, “If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ’tis now.”

~*~
Author bio: 
Lee Carver is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. 

She also does freelance editing, formatting, and uploads as well as being a Stephen Minister, alto in the choir, crocheting with Pray Shawl Ministry, and volunteer pianist, among other activities.

Married forty-eight years to a very tolerant man, they have two children and five grandchildren.

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful post. My mom had dementia and it was amazing with all the memories she lost she could still remember the words to the hymns and quote the scriptures she had memorized.

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  2. I think God answered your question even as you asked it, Lee!

    This ties to what we spoke of earlier, when I said that feeling His presence more strongly in my life as I've had to rely on Him more since my illness has been the greatest blessing!

    He makes us as little children, so we can follow Him more truly in perfect trust.

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  3. Ann, I read recently of people communicating by song with loved ones who were so deeply into Alzheimer's that they appeared almost inert. A woman began to sing a hymn in her mother's presence, and the patient began to sing along. It was a beautiful experience.

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  4. Autumn, it's a sad fact that humans need hardship to learn to lean on God. Some of my strongest times of worship have come from absolute desperation. I wish it were not so.

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