Being Kind? Remembering.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 30, 2014

God I fail you, but i need your comfort

Being Kind? Remembering.

In the aftermath of a memorial service today, I have two vivid memories that come to me. First, one of the hymns. Second, the remembrances and tributes to the person who has died.

The hymn “Morning Has Broken” has always been one of my favorite hymns. Except—I have always sung it in the context of a Sunday morning worship service, and usually as a gathering hymn. This was a bit different. We sang it today as an opening hymn, it’s true. But the opening hymn of a memorial service. The words touched me in a new way today. Especially poignant to me, in light of the memorial aspect of the service, were the words of the third verse:

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning.
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation, Praise ev’ry morning,
God’s recreation Of the new day!

I thought of the new day of those now standing in the presence of God. The new surroundings, the new . . . everything. How comforting and encouraging these words can sound, especially to loved ones who have so recently lost someone to a devastating illness.

Now, second. The remembrances and tributes. The person remembered today was truly special. Everything everyone said at the service was intensely meaningful and heartfelt. I was so moved, I couldn’t help but tear up at times. Even though some of these memories were humorous and lighthearted, too! But, the humor was tinged by bittersweet. This dear person will be sincerely missed.

Memorial services are just that—places to gather together, to remember together, and to mourn together. And like today, places to laugh together, and to cry together. God, be with all those who mourn today. Not only this dear person we had the service for today, but for all those who have been lost, who died, and who were killed in recent times. Comfort those who mourn. Help them reframe their understanding and encourage each other in these sad times.

We can truly thank God that God is with us, every step of the way. Even when we can’t find a way ahead, even when the way is dark or stormy or uncertain. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Showing Love with a Smile

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 25, 2014

smiley ball

Showing Love with a Smile

I was intentionally kind to a few people today! Including two workers at the YMCA this morning, several acquaintances, and two strangers. However, those incidences of being kind are not sticking in my mind as much as a situation two days ago. I already wrote about something that happened at the end of the morning, when I played the piano for two services at two different retirement homes. But the situation I’ll feature in today’s post? Just will not get out of my head. So, I’ll talk about it in this space.

At the first retirement center, I arrived some minutes early for the service. In plenty of time to play several familiar hymns for a prelude.  After checking with Chaplain Sarah, the preacher and service leader for the morning, I went to the piano to put down my music and prepare the hymnals. One of the dear seniors—with a walker—slowly entered the chapel. As she shuffled in, I could see one of the center’s employees gently directing the senior to the one of the empty, waiting chairs. The employee gave her some friendly encouragement, trying to cut through the veil of encroaching dementia.

While standing by the piano, I watched, fascinated. The dear senior paused by the second row of chairs from the front, as if considering sitting down. No, she didn’t sit. Instead, she continued, up towards the piano. I was drawn forward to her, almost as if by a magnet. “Hello!” I said, with a big smile. “It’s good to see you this morning.” I reached forward, stroking her arm in a gentle way. I lessened my smile a little, but still kept it on my face.

This dear senior raised her head and looked up at me—something I hadn’t seen her do for some time. (I know her a little, since I come to this center about once a month.) Her eyes met mine. She gestured toward the piano with one elbow, keeping both hands on her walker. “I play,” she said. Her glance fell on the piano, a lovely, older baby grand, a warm medium brown. Glowing in the daylight coming in from outside. “Really?” I responded. “So do I. I’m going to play for you, if you sit down. Here—“ I gently turned her around, rubbing her shoulder in an encouraging way. I led her back to the second row of chairs. She went along, quite willingly. Several other staff members and residents watched as I oriented her to her seat.  Then, I returned to the piano. Started to play. The service for the morning started.

I did a workmanlike job on the service music Sunday morning. I truly enjoy playing for the seniors. But there was something about the interaction in front of the piano that especially touched my heart. It seemed that everyone watched what happened, like the two of us were on stage. I cannot even describe what it was about it that was so moving. But—whatever it was—God was in it. I felt the presence of God in a special way. I don’t know what anyone else’s opinion or reaction to this interaction was, but I know mine. Touching in a deep, meaningful way. Thanks, God. I wonder what You will send my way tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza