Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Though We Meet With the Darkness and Strife, The Sunny Side We Also May View

On Sunday we attended the baptism of the lovely Ella Man Li.

During the service, I was sitting next my friend H~ (aka Ella's mommy.)

It was a Lutheran service, somewhat different from the Episcopal service we are used to, and it featured some modern religious music.

Towards the end of the service, however, we sang what I will affectionately call an "old timey" hymn. I am hard-pressed to tell you what hymn it was, but it reminded me of songs I sang as a child during the "hymn-sings" my grandfather often led in the church basement.

Unbeknownst to me, H~'s uncle was sitting directly behind me, keeping in check an impressive voice. But when he began to sing the old-time hymn, he let loose with an accomplished baritone...or possibly a tenor.

I will admit to being emotionally vulnerable these days. Highly, highly emotionally vulnerable. The death we are all expecting/anticipating/dreading is a lingering one. We are caught in a web of waiting and grieving. It's painful.

All of this is a preface for this admission - his voice made me cry.

The tears began slipping out and then wouldn't stop. I wondered if I was hearing the voice only in my head, because, for a split second, I thought...that I heard my grandfather singing the hymn in my ear.

H~ handed me a tissue. "Who's singing behind me?" I asked her, choking on my own tears. I was afraid to look, afraid that the answer would be "no one". Afraid that I was the only one hearing my grandfather's voice in warm sanctuary.

"My uncle," she whispered.

Later, after the service, I explained to H~ why I was crying, and her uncle very sweetly apologized. (As if he had anything to be sorry for!)

It made me wonder, though...if because of J~'s closeness to the 'other side' - if those souls who are waiting to welcome him aren't a little bit closer to all of us now? Is that crazy?

This morning I got into my car to drive to work, and I plugged in my Zune and hit "play all".

There are about 3000 songs on my music player, and as the strains of "Keep on the Sunny Side" started to fill my ears, I was taken back.

I had forgotten the song was even ON my Zune.

But my grandpa sang that song often. Sometimes accompanied by his banjo, more usually by his guitar.

I thought maybe he was trying to tell me something...maybe he was trying to tell me, "everything will be all right" or that J~ is going to be fine (in the grand scheme of things). Perhaps that I shouldn't dwell too long in the dark grief that threatens to pull me in.

As the song came to an end, I hit repeat, and I swear I felt him telling me not to worry.

But THEN, as if I needed more evidence...something happened.

My grandpa's passion, aside from singing, was restoring old cars. Model T's, Model A's, that sort of thing. One of the last cars he began to restore, but did not finish because of his death - was a bright canary yellow Ford pick-up truck, circa 1940-something.

I have rarely seen anything like it, but this morning, as I drove towards work, a bright canary yellow Ford pickup truck with historic plates pulled out right in front of me, as the strains of Keep on the Sunny Side continued to play.

I don't know that I have ever received a clearer message.

I'll try to keep it close to my heart.

Though the storm and its furies rage today
Crushing hope that we cherish so dear
The cloud and storm will in time pass away
And the sun again will shine bright and clear

* Keep On The Sunny Side, The Whites (originally recorded by the Carter Family, lyrics by Ada Blenkhorn)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have tears streaming down my face an an overwhelming need to come give you a hug. You have been warned. : )

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 5:51:00 PM  
Blogger Melissia said...

I spent a few years doing home health and have always been comfortable with the elderly and have seen people near the end of their life. I remember one patient especially, who told me that as she approached the end of her life the veil that separated the two worlds was becoming thinner and thinner. She found that a comfort, and I do as well.
I like to think that our loved ones can reach through that veil, like a breeze and lift our hearts when we are weary.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 7:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally believe that God speaks to us through 'signs and wonders'... especially at times of difficulty.

Thinking of you, and praying.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 7:34:00 PM  
Blogger j'lynn said...

There are signs all around us....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 9:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ella At Last said...

Marquee on church sign this morning reads: "I have always been with you - God" It pairs nicely with this blog post, I think. I am honored to be the girl who provided the uncle and passed you tissues Sunday morning - proof positive that our daughters brought us together for a reason bigger than we'll ever know this side of the veil. :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to a Spiritualist church. It's Christianity pared down to its essentials.

We believe that life here and life hereafter is all one life whose continuity of consciousness is unbroken by that mere change in form whose process we call death.

We believe that Spirit communication has been in evidence in all ages of the world and is amply recorded in both sacred and profane literature of all ages.

We believe that there is a supreme Impersonal Power, present everywhere, manifesting as life, called by some, God, by others, Spirit and by Spiritualists, Infinite Intelligence.

So yes - your uncle is simply communicating with you with God's help.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010 8:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course you are not crazy. This post is making me cry, too. I am so sorry you and your family are going through this difficult time, but so glad that you have been able to feel the comforting presence of your grandfather.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 8:17:00 PM  
Blogger Terynn said...

What kinds of Father would not speak to His children? Reassure them. Comfort them. Present to them the truth. Impart wisdom. God loves us more than we could possibly comprehend and He desires for us to need Him, want Him, love Him.

God loves you. God loves J. And today? He showed you in a way that was personally relevant. I love it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 9:41:00 PM  
Blogger Michal said...

I have no doubt in my mind that your Grandfather was sending you a message. Folks mostly miss these messages so I think it's wonderful that your heart and mind were open so you could be comforted.
I once drove 30 mintes on the wrong night to go to a meeting for a job that I would never get. And I think it was all "arranged" so I could look up and see a license plate cover that said " Don't worry- Have Faith". It was in my darkest times while waiting for Liam and that was the moment that I really began to have more Faith and step back from that dark edge of anxiety.
I am sorry that you are going through such a hard time. Just know that there are loved ones watching out for you and still loving you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Special K said...

That's an amazing story. Gave me goosebumps. I totally believe you can hear the whispers from the other side if you listen hard enough. Lucky you to have gotten a message from your grandfather. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010 8:05:00 PM  
Blogger teahouse said...

What a great story!

I understand how when someone's voice (or a musical instrument) resonates a certain way, it can elicit an emotional reaction. It's happened to me many times before.

Saturday, June 19, 2010 12:53:00 AM  

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