I crossed over Jordan Lake listening to one of my favorite songs, “God of Wonders” in what became my ritual for preparing for radiation treatments. I followed the same pattern in an attempt to make the unfamiliar seem routine; leave home at the same time, put in the Third Day CD when I pulled out of the drive, sing to the chorus when I crossed the lake in the early morning beauty. By the time I reached my radiation altar, I felt empowered by the song. Months later, the same chorus played when I drove into Sedona and caught my first view of the massive red rocks.
There have been other songs that have carried me through difficult times, crying out for me when I had no words. Sometimes we have that experience with scriptures, poems, or mantras, but somehow when the words are put to music it seems the song settles into our souls. That’s what happened some years ago when I took my journey to Chincoteague Island at the Assateague National Seashore in Virginia.
When I left on that solo journey, I was very tired and struggling with the after effects of an allergic reaction. The day before, I’d been working in my flower garden and chopped into a bed of red ants that quickly climbed onto my ankles. When I tried to rub them off, they got onto my arms and several lodged under my compression sleeve that I’d worn to protect my left arm with lymphedema. My bites had made my whole body sluggish and itchy. By the time I pulled into my hotel at Chincoteague, all I felt like doing was sleeping. That wasn’t what I wanted from my solo journey.
The next day, I spent the morning on the beach and felt the cool salt water wash those itchy bites, the perfect balm. But too soon, a fast- moving storm sent me to my car for cover. Feeling the gift of not having to be anywhere, I sat there and watched the storm move across the water, listening to a CD that was like a companion for that trip, Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons. The song, “Never Once,” played as I watched a man get out of his jeep and walk with his head down into the storm. The image was so strong—the man going into the storm while Redman sang, “Never once did we ever walk alone, Never once did You leave us on our own, You are faithful, God, You are faithful.”
When I left Chincoteague Island, I wasn’t sure what I carried home, my ‘boon’ or blessing from the trip. I’d had less energy the entire time for interacting with the people in my path. But within weeks, I had my answer.
We three sisters had struggled with Mama’s decline from dementia. After managing a couple of years with nursing assistants in her home, that was no longer enough. It was apparent that we had to place her in a nursing home– something we’d feared. On the day I drove to my hometown to meet my sisters to move Mama into Parkview, my heart broke. Driving down the familiar road over Jordan Lake, I listened to Matt Redman’s song Never Once and could see the man from the jeep. I felt like I was him, going head first into the storm. While I didn’t have the words to say a prayer, the song said it all for me. As much as it hurt to reach this point with Mama, I wasn’t alone, God was with me, and with Mama.
I was glad I’d carried that song.
How about you?
Are there songs that have given you voice when you were unable to speak?
What songs, scriptures, poems, mantras could you store away to be pulled out when you need them?