They say music is the language of heaven. It certainly carries a unique quality that mere words cannot match. And there is something sweet and worshipful about songs that bring poetic truth to life. Words set to music can be recalled when all other memories fail. And the memories couldn't be sweeter. A week ago, I visited my dad at the nursing home. We do lunch (McDonald's) together each week, a long-standing tradition. Used to be when my kids were small that Dad took us to lunch. Rolls are reversed now, but the joy of being together has remained. And as my dad's time on earth draws to an end, those days grow increasingly precious.
Dad can't enjoy lunch like he used to now, but he is always happy to see me. When I walked into his room last Wednesday, he smiled, but issued an unusual request. "Sing O Holy Night," he said, before I had even set down my lunch bags.
"You want me to sing O Holy Night?"
So I sang him the chorus. He smiled and told me I got it just right.
After lunch as I sat by his side, I decided to sing the song again, this time including the verses. He closed his eyes, but I could tell he was listening, directing me like a conductor with one hand. One song led to another, and my mom joined in the harmony on some of his favorite hymns. The moment was one of the most worshipful I have ever known.
As the time came for me to leave, I tried to think of one more song we could sing to him, and asked God for insight. I remembered one of his favorites, "In The Garden." These are the words to two of the verses:
I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear, drawing on my ear The Son of God discloses.
Chorus: And He walks with me and He talks with me And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever known.
He speaks and the sound of His voice Is so sweet the birds hush their singing And the melody that He gave to me Within my heart is ringing.
Chorus: And He walks with me and He talks with me And He tells me I am His own And the joy we share as we tarry there None other, has ever known.
The moment I began, my mom joined in, and then my dad lifted his voice in song with us. Sometimes my dad's memory isn't so good these days. But of that song, he knew every word.
The love in his eyes as he sang, the joy I sensed in his heart are irreplaceable memories and ones I will cherish 'til my dying day. And something I will not see again this side of heaven.
Daddy took a turn for the worse this weekend, and I know his time is very short. But God, in His great goodness, gave us Wednesday - a little taste of heaven's language - singing with my folks words of His great love. One holy night a Savior came so that we could live again with Him in the Garden of life.