On Friday I kept my regular appointment to pick up my weekly mail. It’s a rambling backwoods drive through beautiful woodlands and fields to a small village, where the local luncheonette and the post office and a bank all share the same friendly space. For me it was a brief mental escape affording me a few minutes of quiet and normal on a cold, gray, rainy day. Actually the weather fit my mood… since there was nothing really normal about the day at all.
It began with the earth-quaking news that a friend of ours, Steve, a longtime singer alongside us at church, was killed when his motorcycle collided with an oncoming truck.
Lord, have mercy.
There is no making sense of such things. And yet the reality that someone you know is no longer with us has a way of coloring everything you see and hear. And you understand just how connected we are.
I parked in the first empty space, and dashed through the rain to the lobby to the P.O. box. I grabbed the letters and returned to sit silently in my car for a few minutes. I opened the mail in a distracted funk. Meanwhile I perceived muffled sounds beyond the white noise of the falling rain on the windshield.
Oh gosh. Music!
I rolled down the window to listen. Across the street is a little white church, its bells pealing at noon. I had no idea of the time of day until I heard the familiar hymn, one note at a time. The godly lyrics tumbled in my brain as the bells washed over me and the raindrops blew in.
Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love…
This unexpected hymn pierced my darkness in that brooding moment. Of course, it was time to pray the Angelus and to praise! Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the weather, the noontime bells beckon us to come, to be with God, for He is, truly, with us…
Hearts unfold like flowers before You,
Opening to the sun above.
Steve would have loved this musical moment with God. He understood the power of music to lift hearts. He was a cheerful song leader; a baritone who smiled whenever he sang.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,
Drive the dark of doubt away,
God knew what I needed right when I needed it. It’s a small consolation for which I’m grateful.
I am holding fast to the idea that our omnipresent and loving God knew exactly what Steve needed – exactly when he needed it. (Prov 15: 3, 1 John 3:20)
In a few days the church bells will toll at Steve’s funeral. And all present will be confronted with the truth we profess to believe.
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
One of the singers I know quipped that maybe there’s a new baritone in Heaven’s choir.
I’d like to think he’s right.
Please lift a prayer for Steve, his wife, his three adult children, and their loved ones. He brought much good to his family and our community. May he see immortal gladness, and sing to God with all his heart.