The more that I love Him, more love He bestows.
Each day is like heaven, my heart overflows –
the longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.
——– Words and music by William Gaither
Certain songs move me – they take me to places with memories that lie deep, deep, deep in my mind. Today I listened to a piano instrumental while I was driving around in my old Dodge Dakota pickup truck which has been resurrected by a second engine that sputters in fits and starts but manages to get me and my three dogs to our favorite destination: a field and woods next to the skateboard park in Rosewood.
This day is one of those days that I can forgive South Carolina for almost anything, including the ongoing struggles for very personal social justice issues. Yes, it was that kind of day. Perfect weather, incredible fall colors everywhere, and cloudless blue skies.
As I drove my little dog Red who barks incessantly when he gets in the truck and my big dogs Spike and Chelsea who fling themselves from window to window and jump back and forth on the console from the sheer excitement of the anticipation of running free, I thought to myself, you are a lucky person today. You are healthy enough to take your family to do what they love to do most, and for you in this moment, life is good.
On the ride back to the house, the dogs were exhausted and I decided to play a CD made by an old friend here in Columbia…a collection of hymn arrangements that I recognized from my Southern Baptist roots in rural southeast Texas. I listen to this CD a lot. It’s the only one I carry in my truck and when I can tear myself away from sports talk radio, I’ll play it. I know almost all the words to almost all the songs. I’ve been sporadically listening to them for sixty-eight years.
While I listened to the Bill Gaither song, I was transported to a time with a vision of my mother practicing the piano for the Sunday morning hymns at the church. She was a church pianist for small Southern Baptist churches for more than sixty-five years before her dementia stole the music from her mind and fingers. She had magical fingers that moved with precision to hit the right notes but also played with an emotional abandon that eluded her in her everyday life.
And she practiced and practiced. She sat very straight and glanced at the hymnal every once in a while, but mostly she looked at her hands because she knew all the notes. She watched her hands make music.
You know, I wonder if those were her “life is good” moments. I never thought about it until today, but she looked in my memory as happy as I felt this afternoon. Maybe that’s why she always wanted me to sing when she played. She hoped the music would connect us – draw us closer – carry us to a higher ground of understanding. I’ll never know.
What I do know is that for me on a glorious November day, a piano player carried me home.