Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy praise…
Sometimes I make my world awfully small. Rarely do I ask the next question and I’m bad to hold a grudge. My friend Gay Baby would tell me that there's value in asking that next question. Sometimes that next question can break open a conversation and allow us to get a bit closer to the heart of the matter. It takes time to do that; it’s a bit risky. But too often time is spent talking about the weather, when there’s precious matters to share. Sometimes my world is just kept awfully small. And I’m bad to hold a grudge. For instance, I continue to be mad at our hometown Braves for trading away Craig Kimbrel. I can hear you from here, “Move on already.”
Tune my heart to sing Thy praise.
I love that President Obama sang in Charleston at the end of his eulogy for Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney. His words spoke of grace and hope. His words spoke of being better, doing better. And for his words, I am grateful. But I love that he sang.
His singing didn’t feel orchestrated or pre-planned. It was as though the words he wanted to convey to us needed to take flight. They felt and sounded like a continuation of his message. I heard in his singing of Amazing Grace a tune of faith that leads to something greater than what immediately feels possible. Streams of mercy never ceasing, calls for songs of loudest praise….
I’ve been reminded of his singing in these past days. The echo in my heart has felt both inspiring and comforting. With all respect, I’ve heard many, many better renditions of Amazing Grace. But honestly, I can’t remember ever feeling as moved when I heard him sing at the memorial service. The melody and words came from deep roots of faith, hope and love. They came from inside him, and he sang (I believe) because the song could not be stopped. Those streams of mercy holding those in the service, and those of us who were watching around the country - those streams brought light to the darkness, love greater than hate or fear.
I love that he sang in that service and because he did, I have been reminded of the significance of acting on faith.
In my work as a hospice chaplain, it’s tough sometimes to continue to show up. It’s tough sometimes to sit with patients or family members who are angry or afraid. And several times this week, I have been encouraged by one man’s singing of a very familiar song. Remembering the image of his digging deeply within himself and finding his voice, his song – has encouraged me to do the next thing. To not be stuck. To ask the next question.
I love that he sang. I love that he led us in that way, in that space, in that moment.
My world can be awfully small sometimes. And moments like President Obama’s singing after the tragedy at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston…those moments keep me moving toward something bigger than my small world.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
`Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
(thanks to Susie Gentry for the picture above)
Working as a Hospice Chaplain, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.