A HANKERING FOR HYMNS AND HOME
Here comes a universal truth. Even though there are people from all eras of our lives that we would dearly love to see again, and there are old haunts we’d love to visit, we usually don’t.
We don’t want to bother people. We wonder if there would be anything to talk about, and we’d all end up disappointed. We shudder at the thought of being awkward or worse, unwelcome. So we say things like, “Who has the time? Maybe someday...”
One glorious thing my books do is give me a legit reason to see those people and visit those places. Sunday was one of those times. I was invited to the church that I grew up in, the Brownsville United Methodist Church in Union County.
We attended Sunday’s service, then the pitch-in, and then I gave a little program and sold some books.
I wasn’t even born the first time I was inside that church. And after that, my mother was visibly pregnant with me when my brother David got married there. I was probably all of two weeks old the first time I was hand-carried into the building. The thing I can’t get over is that quite a few of the women who were there then are there now such as Geneva, Barb, Charlotte and Pat. (More about Pat coming in my weekend post.)
There in that church I grew up, voted in my first presidential election at age 18, got married at 20. There I stood beside that church during my parents’ and my brother David’s and other loved ones’ graveside services. People who share my DNA and so much more are at rest on both sides of that building.
That church is home.
I could have spent all of Sunday there, alone, taking in the view from where my mother always sat, thinking, remembering, praying. Examining each panel of the gorgeous stained-glass windows. Peeking behind the curtain in the storage room where they kept (maybe even still keep) the beautiful angel costumes I couldn’t wait to become old enough to wear in the Christmas pageants. So they were made of white sheets and the halos of sparkly silver tinsel. That is the stuff of real angel attire, right?
I wanted to see if the little, round children’s table was still there and of course it was, in the former nursery, right where I sat when I was 2 or 3 or 4. The vintage Jesus pictures were still where they were supposed to be. Good. Charlotte Telker was still seated at the organ that Luva Cain bought for the church so many years ago. Yes.
Charlotte told me that she loved to hear my grandmother play the piano. That would have been before I was born when she was the church pianist. I don’t run into anyone who remembers my grandmother. What a treat to hear from someone who does.
I wanted to take in everything there in close-up, slow-motion detail, but instead, I got an overview.
The Methodist hymnals were still in their places on back of every pew. I listen to contemporary Christian music daily and I love my wonderful current church’s praise team and rocked-out tunes.
But oh how I treasure those old hymns, besides. The Old Rugged Cross. What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Blessed Assurance. It is Well with My Soul and a thousand more. (Speaking of thousand, O for a Thousand Tongues is a good one.)
Last night I went online and ordered myself a Methodist hymnal. I’m going to tuck it in the side pocket of my car and I’m going to use it every chance I get. If you see a random woman with the windows rolled up in a random parking lot belting out I Love to Tell the Story or Holy, Holy, Holy or A Mighty Fortress is Our God, think nothing of it. It’s just me, returning to my roots.
Yes, I am grateful for a reason to go back home Sunday, and I thank Pastor Shelley and the rest of those beautiful people from the bottom of my heart for inviting me, making me feel welcome, loved--for making me feel at home.
Because I was home. And I miss it already.
No spot is so dear.
7/19/2016 03:56:18 pm
Thank you for asking this question, Donna. From my upbringing as an Episcopalian, I have warm and wonderful memories of standing to sing Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Mother, Daddy and brother in the same pew with me at either Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis or St. Mathews Church on the east side of Indianapolis. The first verse is:
7/25/2016 08:34:52 pm
Great memory, Diane. Thanks for sharing this hymn. I wasn't familiar with it. So many lovely ones.
7/19/2016 04:27:08 pm
How I love this account of your home church. It was as though I was looking in the rear view mirror of my own life. Harold and I will be celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary by renewing our vows in September in the little church I grew up in and we married in. Our children will be standing up with us this time. So many celebrations are centered around the church. Three years ago we celebrated the life of my father there and we sent him off to his place in heaven. When I enter that little church I see the old faces that were sitting there each time the doors opened.
7/25/2016 08:35:47 pm
What a special 50th celebration you have planned. I wonder what hymns you will include.
7/19/2016 06:26:45 pm
Donna , what a lovely tribute to such a wonderful little church , wonderful memories , and some of Brownsville's finest ! I also have lots of good memories of that church . I remember bible school was something to look forward to every summer , and Geneva had a station wagon she drove through the countryside picking up kids . Myself one of those kids . Seemed like Geneva & Barb Kaufman were always directors . Many happy memories ? God bless
7/25/2016 08:36:52 pm
That's a great story about Geneva! I never knew she did that -- collecting kids in the country! But I'm sure not surprised.
7/20/2016 04:20:27 am
As usual Donna I loved reading your trip back home to your family church. Raised Methodist myself, it is impossible to take the past rituals and beautiful hymns out of our minds that are still resting in our souls. So happy for you and Brian that you could share a beautiful day together like this one. I have an old Methodist hymnal that I love to open up frequently. Enjoy it when it arrivals and sing loudly full of joy from your beautiful heart.
7/25/2016 08:37:43 pm
I should come by and we could have a hymn sing.
Donna, You beautifully captured the essence of church in your blog post. How wonderful that the different elements of the church took you back to memories of growing up and loved ones long since gone. Being in God's presence takes us to that place of refuge and security in our memories and in the present!
7/25/2016 08:39:16 pm
"That place of refuge and security ..." Yes, Debbie. Thanks.
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