As we began our first hymn yesterday, I looked around and noticed that almost no one was singing. I also realized that I had made my way through heavy traffic for over an hour to get there. So, I made that announcement. I also added that my birthday was tomorrow, and I will be turning 66. "You better sing with me now. Who knows how much longer I will be able to do this?" There was laughter and applause (I have been visiting this skilled nursing community for almost eleven years), and a little more engagement after that, probably on my part as well.
After the service I began collecting song sheets, and I approached one man who had tears in his eyes. He asked, "Where does this sweet music come from?" I immediately had a vision of a human chest with a fountain flowing from it, but opted instead to tell him a little bit about the ministry. He had mentioned before that he had attended a beautiful seminary on a hill (I think he mentioned Jerusalem the last time I saw him, but I might be getting carried away with images from the psalms), and yesterday I again sensed a deep yearning to return. He then shrugged his shoulders and said, "But that was 50 years ago. I also went to Aleppo. Such a beautiful city it was, such wonderful food." He grew silent and he looked away. I knew he was seeing a vision that was not mine to see.
This conversation left me wondering again about the people of faith who are stranded in skilled nursing and other long-term care communities with no day to day spiritual support. That question is certainly at the heart of why SpiritCare was founded, and I believe we do make a difference in the lives of the frail and those who care for them professionally. However, I, too have a yearning, and that is to drive less and to be present more. I know this to also be true for those who are employed in the communities, many of whom face long daily drives as they work two or three jobs just to patch together something close to a living wage.
Here I must pause and thank the pianist who joins me at this community. Her music holds us together with a tender thread as she plays before, during, and after the services. All of our pianists have unique voices, and Spirit always brings them to the community where their particular gifts are needed. I am humbled by their willingness to share so generously.
I start my 66th year with gratitude for SpiritCare, for the San Lorenzo church, for Tyler and my home, for my yoga teacher, for all of those who have assisted me in the past and for those who are journeying with me now. I give thanks to Jesus who sits with me and listens to my prayers, and then gently lets me know when it is time to go. I am also grateful for Holy Mother's starry mantel that holds us all in peace even in the midst of storms.
I am grateful for all of you. Come sing with us when you can.
Keep the song in my soul,
Let it not lose its music.
Keep the holy in my soul,
Let it not ignore its source.
Keep the love in my soul,
Let it not close in on self.
Keep the light in my soul,
Let it not forget to shine.
Keep the vision in my soul,
Let it not lose sight of you.
Fragments of Your Ancient Name,