Happy Monday, folks!
I hope everyone was able to stay cool with the extreme heat Mother Nature threw at us this week.
It was like we went from frost-filled mornings to dog days of Summer with no warning.
Not cool, Mother Nature…not cool.
At least give us some type of grace period.
I’m also currently swiveling back and forth in one of my newest furniture additions to the Sunshine Cottage living room, have my feet propped on the coffee table with fresh air coming through the open windows, and the sound of falling rain is serenading me in the background.
Oh…and…I’m indulging in a mini bottle of Coca-Cola because sometimes it is the perfect carbonated beverage to side-kick on these Summer evenings as described above.
Anyway, I digress.
Shocker, I know.
This past week, our faith community lost a member quite suddenly.
And every time that happens, especially in a small, family church where everybody knows your name, it feels like a part of you and your heart get taken away too.
Mary Alice was someone I had just been greeted by the previous Sunday morning as she walked in the front doors before making her way to the pew close to the front of the sanctuary.
And, one week later, it has all changed forever.
There won’t be any more Sunday morning “hello’s” from Mary Alice.
There won’t be any more cards that wish me a happy birthday or give me a kind note of thanks about my music at St. Paul’s in Mary Alice’s perfectly distinct and polished cursive handwriting.
There won’t be any more spot checks of my fun socks that she always used to do when walking past the piano bench after Communion to give me her smile and thumbs up of approval.
And during the church service on Sunday after being notified that she had passed the night before, I started to cry during the last verse of our special music presentation of “River in Judea.”
The tears took over and as much as I wanted to try and finish out the song, I just couldn’t.
And those tears continued into the prayers portion of the service where I attempted to stumble through, but ultimately had to concede to the tears once again and pass off the remainder of reading to Angie.
And, as if I hadn’t cried enough, the waterworks happened again during the last verse of our closing hymn, “When Peace Like A River” which just so happened to be one of Mary Alice’s favorite hymns. It was always one that she would submit when I would ask congregational members to give me a few of their most beloved tunes.
And, during the last hymn, a beautiful moment happened.
Jelani Seppi–a handicap, black individual who always sits in the front pew started to sing along with the hymn…something he never does.
And even though he sings a bit off key and doesn’t always say the correct words, he was right there—with the rest of the congregation—carrying on for the voice that I didn’t have because I was crying over on the organ bench.
It was beautiful.
It was perfect.
It was a moment meant to be that Mary Alice was definitely smiling down upon as it unfolded.
Life can literally change in an instant.
Our faith community experienced that this week.
And it was that subtle reminder that we should never take anything for granted and that it is both ok and necessary to cry out our emotions.
Hug someone in your life you appreciate just a little bit tighter.
Say “I love you” to your people as much as possible.
Never take the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years we have been given for granted.
I leave you with the last verse lyrics of “When Peace Like A River” in memory of our beloved Mary Alice.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Sprinkle sunshine always,