I adore the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. At times boring, there are those heart-stopping moments of emotion and beauty. And this show, unlike Dancing with the Stars, highlights many different kinds of dance, from Bollywood to Russian folk dance, from classical ballet to hip hop. At its best, the dancers touch on universal themes that people from every walk of life can connect with.
All of the "arts"--music, dance, visual art, writing, acting, and others--do that. I have noted that anew since I've been here. Residents who don't speak, or move, or do much beyond eat and sleep, will sit up, clap, sing, participate in music.
Last night, one feisty octogenarian sang along with every hymn her son played. As he played "The Old Rugged Cross," she buried her head in her arms on the table, softly crying. For a world of lost sinners was slain. I felt her heartbeat. That's me, Lord! You died for me! I went over there and put my arms her.
When people meet me as "author" first, they are often surprised to discover I'm also a musician. I tell them I was a musician long before I was a writer; I started playing piano when I was nine. Although my gnarled, arthritic fingers don't play well any more, people still seem to enjoy it. This morning, now that I have a hymnal, I played and sang for about 45 minutes. It was a private time between me and God, although I hoped it might minister to others who were in the room.
I played a single hymn, and the applause began. People called out occasionally, praising and/or thanking me. As I was tiring, one of the younger residents (even younger than me), joined me. He loves music (he seems to know the words to every song the performers sing), but this touched him anew. Tears in his voice, he talked about hearing these songs at his grandmother's church.
Later an aide told me that another resident, who never talks, was singing along.
Among the hymns I sang, I found an old favorite: Spirit of God, Descend Upon my Heart. The third verse left me in tears: Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
Those words didn't mean so much when I thought I was too "spiritual" to feel rising doubt or a rebel sigh. Now I've lived long enough to experience those "struggles of the soul," and the knowledge that God is always nigh is what sees me through.
Please pray with me as I play and sing for myself, my God . . .and the people around me.
P.S. Last week's winners were Keli Gwyn (Postmark: Christmas, which arrived this week) and Dana Wilkerson Spille (A Bride's Rogue). This week, for every 5 comments received, I will give away a copy of Postmark: Christmas. Please leave contact information with your comment so I can get in contact with you if you win.
Please answer this question for a chance to win: Talk about your favorite hymn or a time that music touched you in a deep way.