A Facebook memory popped up onto my feed a week or so ago of my youngest daughter Faith, who at the time was maybe 8 or 9 years old. The Facebook memory was a video of my daughter sitting alone in the living room of a 125 year old farm house we were renting, wrapped in a blanket that my grandmother had made, singing “Amazing Grace”.
Hearing her little voice sweetly singing this beloved hymn, brought with every note a rush and sting of emotion — as I could almost simultaneously hear the voice of my grandmother singing in harmony with my daughter. My maternal grandmother loved to sing, and “Amazing Grace” was one of her top ten favorite hymns.
The moment that I walked into the room, following the sweet sound of my daughter’s voice, I knew I had found a Thin Place — a mysterious place of wonder where the divine transcends time and space. Thin Places are those places where the distance between heaven and earth does not seem so far…
I have experienced other Thin Places in my life and many of them have somehow included the hearing of the very songs that I grew up singing in church. My paternal grandmother would climb to the very top of the trees that I climbed as a child and would sit there singing “How Great Thou Art”.
My father, who built our family home on the very farmland that his mother, my grandmother, grew up on, would tell me stories of how his Mom would sing sacred songs from the tree tops. Soon, I too learned how to climb to the tops of these same trees where I would sing the very same hymn as the sun set… Even after my grandmother’s light flickered before our eyes as dementia set in and her faculties failed – she could be found humming the tune to this beloved hymn. Another “Thin Place” indeed.
Recently, Lutheran Pastor and writer, Nadia Bolz Weber, wrote; “Sometimes hymns are my creeds, my first language, the texts of my faith which have formed me from even before I was born. If I grow to be an old woman whose mind softens at the edges of reality, I may not know my own name or the names of my children and grandchildren, but I am certain I will still know every single word to Great Is Thy Faithfulness. No matter what my mind holds, agrees to, or understands, I will always be standing on the promises of God, because the hymns I have sung throughout my life will never let me go. And for this I give thanks.”*
It is my hope that one day, my own children will happen upon a Thin Place of their own — where perhaps they too will be surprised by a feeling of nostalgia and gratitude as their own hearts are filled with song… Maybe it will be a song that connects them to the ancient hymns of our faith and the ones that love them. Perhaps they will treasure the mystery found there — and be in awe of the overwhelming presence of the Divine — in the magic of God’s song…
What new songs will they sing?
Will you join me in a spirit prayer?
God, How great thou art! How amazing is your grace! What a gift it is to be surrounded in your blessed assurance! Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy hear our prayers this day. Be thou our vision – O Lord of our heart and abide with us – bring us nearer to thee – so that we might be better able to hear how softly and tenderly Jesus is calling… Amen.
Footnote link from quote above: https://thecorners.substack.com/p/singing-hymns-alone?fbclid=IwAR2g-zrlFOzu1T6w9H2lC2uRnMvB8qnQQyJV7dsrSxvG5ABnkK8FYNHyvFE