Missing a post on this blog one day is similar to when I was in college and skipped a class---miss the first one and it's all downhill from there. I really wanted to post last night, but after having company for dinner and walking the dog, I had to review my grad students' weekly reports. Somehow, I keep forgetting that I have those to do on the weekends when I have more relaxed time to do so. I end up doing them the night before far too often. I thought about the writing prompt all day and was fairly ready to sit down and write. My tired body had other ideas. I like yesterday's prompt better than today's, so I'm just going to go with it anyway!
What was your favorite song this year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Twenty?
About twenty years ago, I bought a stencil that says, "Life is a song, so sing along". In many ways, it has become a bit of a little mantra for me. My husband calls me "Jingle Jan" because I will often break out in a melody, but I usually can only sing part of any given song. I think my ADD just kicks in and I can't remember all the verses. I might be having a conversation with someone and a word or a phrase might bring the line from a song to my mind and, because my husband also accuses me at times of having diarrhea of the mouth, whatever goes through my mind has to come out my mouth. So, I sing. I have only met one other person in my experience who does the same thing, although I'm pretty sure there are lots more of us out there. He was one of the principals I worked with several years ago. He and I would often break out at the same moment with the same line from a song. It was fun when it happened because it was usually unexpected.
This year, one of my favorite songs is "You Are My Strength" by Hillsong. It's actually been a favorite for almost two years. The lyrics and the melody are really very simple. I think it's the harmony that goes with it and the people I get to sing with that make it so much better than just a good song. When we sing it during Worship at church, it's like everyone in the room pauses and drinks in the power of the song together. It really is quite powerful. We "conspire" or "breathe together" and just drink in the majesty of it all. My favorite memory of singing this song comes from the summer of 2009. I helped co-lead a 20-something retreat to Wisconsin for an extended weekend. Being a musical bunch, we volunteered to provide the music during the Sunday service for a tiny little church in a small town (Toddito--I can't remember the name!). It was just lovely to feel the warmth and appreciation of the congregation that embraced us.
In 2008, my favorite song was "Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone" by Christian artist, Chris Tomlin. His music is truly inspired by God. I don't think he's written a bad piece of music. Ever. When my father died that summer, I asked if Jim and the kids and I could sing this song at his funeral. Prior to the service, there had been the suggestion from a family member that the song Amazing Grace was an inappropriate selection for the occasion. When it came time, Dylan walked up to the altar and picked up my dad's guitar which sat on its stand near my dad's urn of ashes. He joined Jordan and me where we stood next to Jim, who was waiting with his guitar. While Dylan struck the first few chords on that very special instrument, Jordan's beautiful, strong, rich soprano filled the sanctuary while Jim, Dylan and I provided the harmony. Despite all the music we four have sung or played over the years, this was the first and the only time since that we performed together as our family. When we got to part of the chorus where we sang the words so strongly, "My chains are gone, I've been set free..." I felt my father be released from the bondage of lung cancer and and I knew without a doubt that Dad rose whole and strong and joined Mom, with her once again sound mind, as they walked hand in hand toward the care of another Father. It was an Awe-some moment of time and I will never again hear or sing that song without remembering it and the tears that flowed from all eyes.
Many moons ago, when Jim and I first dated, Jim played guitar at a family restaurant called the Ground Round in Bangor, Maine. He'd get paid about $35 a night to play his guitar and sing. That's how he got himself through seminary. At that time, I didn't sing anywhere but the shower, really. Well, Jim called me up on stage one night and told me I was going to sing a song. That song ended up being "Annie's Song" by John Denver. I sang the melody while Jim sang harmony. I think from the first moment we performed it, it became "our song". It wasn't planned, it just happened. We've sung that song countless times---at campfires, at weddings, just for fun. It might not be my favorite song, but it does have a special place in my heart and in my memories. When we would take high school students on mission trips, they would always ask us to sing them a song goodnight and this would, inevitably, be one of the lullabys we'd sing that week.
I always said I'd have to marry a guitar man because my dad played the guitar and it meant so much to me. I'm so fortunate that my prayers were answered and that music continues to play such a large part in my life and the lives of my husband and children.
Life is a song, so sing along.