Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abide With Me

I stumbled across this today and the music in it touched a note in me so I thought I'd share it.

This kind of music always reminds me of my childhood. When I was small we attended a tiny little county church, Beldor Mennonite. It was tucked away in a very rural hollar of Virginia near Skyline Drive. My parents drove the hour each Sunday with my brother and I, and most of the time my grandmother came with us until her health prevented it. She sat in the back seat of the car, always on the right side. I was in the middle next to her and my brother on the left. She usually had candy in her purse and a tissue or handkerchief tucked in her sleeve or her dress. My parents helped the little church with some leadership and support. I remember the little white chapel building, and the sound of the voices, there were never any instruments. I remember a framed reproduction of a painting of Jesus kneeling at a rock with a light shining on his face on the front wall of the chapel. I remember the man who preached there for years, he was a gentle man. He had a round Charley Brown shaped head with laugh lines and wire rim glasses. I doubt he ever had a microphone in front of him, he didn’t need one. He always seemed gentle and loving to me, and my memories of hearing him speak are good ones. I learned to read music as a child by watching the hymnal, noticing that when the notes went up the staff, so did the voices. It was a place where I absorbed simple music and a simple genuine faith.

I remember one night when the adults were inside and I was allowed to sit outside on the steps. That night remains vivid in my memory as the evening was beautiful and a whippoorwill filled the area with song. I don’t know why that evening stays with me, but I have thought of it often over the years. It was a beautiful night out under the stars, in a place where I felt absolutely no fear. The tall trees reached up to heaven, the stars shone with a special brilliance. I was surrounded by beauty and the haunting sound of the bird’s call. Even as a little bitty child, I could sense that God was in that place. It was a little bit of heaven, and it remains a precious memory.

Later, we would attend “Weaver’s Mennonite” church where there were more voices and more harmonies in the music. My parents were relatively devout people. My Dad’s father was a Mennonite Pastor, my Mother wore the covering, cape dress and black stockings in her youth. We were in church each Sunday, sometimes during the week as well. There was always lots of music, sometimes with instruments, sometimes without. It’s from this season of my childhood that I would have learned this hymn: “Abide with me.”

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Tonight the moon is nearly full, the stars are out and I am remembering the sounds of my youth and finding comfort in these memories. This evening we sent a final email to our adoption Social Worker officially ending the process of an adoption we’ve worked at since November of 2007. The timing feels significant, this is indeed a milestone. Tomorrow I’ll be at UVA for a hysterectomy. This season of my life is concluding, I’m not going to be a mother in the literal sense. There is some sadness surfacing, these milestones are not without their grief. But I am not afraid. He will abide with me, sometimes I may even manage to sense Him nearby. There is a big opal moon, some bright stars and the stillness and beauty of the night. I may be alone, but He abides with me.


  1. Sweet memories. Blessing to you dearest Carmen Rose.


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