“When thou commandest me to sing it seems that my heart would break with joy; and I look into thy face, and tears come to my eyes.
I know thou takest pleasure in my singing., and call thee friend who art my lord.”
― Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali: Song Offerings
On a cold, snowy morning near the end of January of 1955, two young parents brought their baby daughter to the Florence Henry Memorial Chapel to be baptized.
She was not expected to live beyond her first few days of life, and having lost their firstborn, David at birth, she was quite the little miracle! Of course as you might have gathered by now, that little miracle was me! Celebrating with my parents that morning were members of the St. Dunstan’s Choir which my mom sang with. My mom always talked about the choir being part of her family, and she always encouraged me to find a church family no matter where I would live as I grew up. I have a lovely memory of being about three years old and watching her get her choir robe on before the service. When I looked around I felt like “this must be what angels look like!”
Music has always been an essential part of my life from the very beginning, and continues to be so almost 63 years later. My son Danny has carried on the musical traditions, although when he was a little boy, he would put his hands on his hips and sing off key on purpose just to make me laugh! Did I mention that he is an actor and soon-to-be high school theater teacher?!! I grew up in a house filled with music of every kind, and we all sang and played instruments. When I was 10 years old we moved to Chicago and I would travel down many different paths in the years that followed. Music and my love for Jesus were my constant companions.
53 years later right before Thanksgiving last year, I walked back through the doors of St. Dunstan’s. As I sat down and gazed out the windows through my tears at the beautiful trees bathed in rain, I knew I was indeed – home. I joined the choir the following week, and have been so warmly welcomed. My sweet father Russ has gone home to Jesus now, and my beautiful mom, Dody is coming close to the end of her life here with us. She is no longer able to communicate with the exception of a few words now and then. Not too long ago I was singing to her – not knowing if she really was aware of me. Out of the blue she said “that was pretty good!”Oh my goodness I laughed and cried at the same time! These are the precious jewels I hold on to.
Singing in the choir is one of the ways that I carry on her legacy. Returning to St. Dunstan’s at this season of my life is my coming home. It is the season of discernment to God’s call to ordination and it is the promise to my mom to never stop singing. I love these words to the old Shaker hymn –How Can I keep From Singing?
My life flows on in endless song above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the sweet, though far off hymn that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to this rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of Heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing!