I recently read a story that Tony Bennett had told about a dark time in his personal life. It was the first time that he had ever spent the holidays away from his family, as he was alone in his hotel room going through a terrible divorce.
He said, "All of a sudden, I heard some music. I opened the door to find one of the greatest surprises of my life: There was a choir singing "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." My friend Duke Ellington, who happened to be in town for a concert, had heard I was alone. So he sent a choir for me."
I thought back to the year our oldest daughter was born, just 16 days before Christmas. We hadn’t had her home from the hospital long when my husband called to me telling me I had to come see something. I had Hannah in my arms as he led me to the front door. Outside, our front yard was filled with our own choir. Steve had previously worked with the ‘special populations’ in our community. Many of those kids and young adults had been at our wedding. Now, excited to see our new baby, they chose our home to come Christmas caroling to. It was a sight to behold and an earful of blessing as they sang their hearts out for us. Like Tony Bennett, we were lifted up by that act of kindness and have retold that story many times to our daughters.
Recently, one of the girls from that "choir" that we have stayed in touch with, called us crying. She has Down Syndrome and is now a responsible and loving young lady. Her mom passed away a year ago and now she was facing the anniversary of that terrible loss. I listened and empathized and offered some things that I thought may take the sting away from the heartache she was feeling. In that conversation she told me that she had never been to the cemetary… that she just couldn’t bear to go there. I told her that when and if she was ever ready to go, I would be happy to go with her. Just a few days later, she called again, asking if I would go with her that Friday. I got off work, went to buy flowers for her to take and met her at our house at 5:30. Steve and I went with her to the cemetary and, although there was no singing, became her choir at that moment.
Five years ago I attended the wedding of my best friend’s oldest daughter. They got married in a beautiful old country church. Extended family were perched in the balcony of that church singing "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" at the beginning of the wedding. What a blessing to have family to surround, support and "send a choir" for you!
"He sent a choir for me." Those words touched my heart. They brought back warm feelings of the wonderful time that a choir was sent for me too. Those words also inspired me. I don’t have a great voice, but neither did those kids on our lawn nearly 20 years ago. Much more than music, it represented a group of people who care, who are happy to be a part of our lives and who bless us just with their presence. They inspire me to do the same.
So whose life can you touch today? Who can you surround with the melody of encouragement? It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s day. Let’s be people who gather ’round and lighten one another’s loads.
Singing along with you…