So Why a Living Room?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day #33. So much joy, so little time.

Okay, if I try to post about all the little pieces of joy I am finding every day, I will never get any sleep.  :)  In one of my favorite Cherie Call songs, called "Believe," the bridge says, "It's in the way you see the glass--once you know that it's half full it overflows...every time that you believe..."  I love that.  And I am starting to feel that way as I am developing the eyes to better see and recognize my blessings.

So, do I give a superficial list of several things, or pick one and write about it....?

Pick one.  Okay.

This morning my Dad and I got to go sing a few musical numbers at Silverado, an Alzheimer's nursing home.  They hold an official sacrament meeting in this home every Sunday, and members of the stake take turns giving talks and presenting musical numbers.  I felt so lucky that I got to go feel of the spirit that was there today.  We walked into the assembly room and a woman was playing prelude music on the piano.  One of the alzheimer's patients was sitting right at the front of the room, boisterously (but impressively in tune) singing along:  "Count your many blessings see what God has done."  When she didn't know the words she would just sing, "Dum dee dee dee dum dee doo dee dooo..."  She was delightful.  And I can tell you that I don't envy her mortal circumstance one bit, but if she can still sing about counting your blessings then we all can, right?!  I  went and sat by her for the opening hymn and just reveled in getting to feel of who she was inside as I listened to her sing.
One woman was all decked out in a fancy purple dress with nylons, and velvet heels.  I could tell it was important to her, or someone that cares for her, that she be nicely dressed for church.  She was all done up, sitting on the front row, but was just crumpled in the chair, fast asleep through the entire meeting.  Another woman looked permanently concerned that something was horribly wrong, while someone else had a permanent hazy smile as she gazed off in the distance.  I was struck with the feeling that these are real people, who were once in their prime, leading active and exciting lives, and that right now they are just trapped in a mortal body that is deteriorating away.  But their soul, who they really are, is still someone with incredible divine potential.  I'm not around the elderly very often, but I do spend a lot of time with little kids--and I have learned that even though a 9 month-old baby can't articulate how he feels or exactly what he thinks, that he has a unique personality and a pre-mortal life story and personality.  I felt that same reality about the residents in this home today--they have a pre-mortal and a mortal life story that you would never know by looking at them now, but I could feel it somehow.  That was neat.

So my dad and I sang 2 duets and each of us sang a solo.  We sang "Love is Spoken Here" together, and I sang a really pretty arrangement of "Love At Home," and was overcome with the love that I felt in that room.  I saw a woman in a yellow blazer, shriveled up in a chair, barely responsive at all, and I saw next to her a man about her age, completely coherent, holding her rigid hand and resting his on her knee.  Next to her, I saw a younger man and his own wife, and I could sense the sweet caretaking nature of this family, who I'm sure have been driven to their knees many times lately, pleading for help to get through this difficult time.

I looked on the back row and saw a spunky lady sitting next to her husband with his wheelchair, and he was crying during the song.  I watched (while I sang) as she akwardly but lovingly helped him blow his nose and wiped his eyes.  From all the way across the room I could feel a nearly tangible love flowing out of this couple--I could just tell that they really really loved each other.  The Greek term for the highest form of love, the kind of committed, selfless love that I talk about in my firesides and am always hunting for great examples of--Agape--well it was emanating out of their entire bodies somehow.
And there I was singing, 

"Oh, there's One who smiles on high when there's love at home."
It was really an unforgettable experience.

*Okay, flashback for a second.*  Last night, as my Dad and I were running through our songs, I was feeling nostalgic for the days that I spent hours daily in a practice room and was constantly exercising my voice and perfecting my technique and learning new things and keeping in shape.  We finished singing that arrangement of Love at Home and I said to my dad, "I can't believe I am even saying this, but I feel like I'm a 'has been' as a singer.  I feel like I used to really be able to sing, but I am just not at the top of my game anymore!  Especially in this higher range classical stuff, my body is like--'yeah right. what are you trying to pull here?!'"  I told him, "I feel like there is so much more that I could give to this song and do with this song, but I'm just not in the vocal shape to be able to do it."*

Okay, resume the story.  So, I believe in the enabling power of the atonement.  I believe that when we offer up our hearts to the Lord, and willingly give and love and serve, that he magnifies us.  I have felt this power attend me when I sing, when the Lord really wants to use me as an instrument in His hands.  I felt that power today.  I wanted with all my heart to convey something today that these men and women could connect with, and rejoice in.  I wanted to communicate with them and just share my love and admiration for their lives.  As I sang Love At Home to those noble, courageous souls and their caretakers, I heard a voice that was clear, and open, and powerful, and completely unrestrained.  I think it was mine, but it just wasn't the same voice that had rehearsed that song the night before.  And that, to me, classifies as a miracle.

So I felt a lot of joy today.  Joy in the chance to associate with these wise, experienced, eternal souls, who are nearing the end of their mortal test.  Joy in the opportunity to feel the spirit attending me as I poured out my heart to them and the people who love them the very most.  Joy in getting to do that next to my Dad, as we played for each other and sang together.  And joy in being taught, yet again, that God's grace will magnify me as I seek to be an instrument in his hands, even if (in whatever category) I don't feel like I'm at the "top of my game."   

2 Corinthians 12:10
"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."


 Oh, and just for the record, the spunky lady and her husband who was crying, the couple that I felt so much true Christ-like love emanating from--I learned that it was Marion D. Hanks, former assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife.  I was amazed, and yet at the same time, not at all surprised.  :)

If I ever get really complainy  and start to lose the ability to see my blessings and the miracles that the Lord works in my life, will someone please smack me over the head and say, "Would you open your eyes!?!"

Thank you.


Candace said...

Wow, what a special day for you! I have a very special place in my heart for the elderly, especially those with Alzheimer's, as my own paternal grandmother suffered from that. I didn't ever get to know my "real" grandma but I could still feel of her valiant spirit and know I will someday know her fully.