I think about going home sometimes. Not the going home at the end of a day of work and errands, but the eternal kind. I’m not trying to be morbid, nor is it a fear-filled thing…just curious. What will it be like? None of us knows the particulars of our exit from this world into the next. My friend Marion, though she knew her life would be shortened by cancer, did not know that it would be lung issues, complications of cancer drugs, that would take her in the end. I wish I had had more conversations with her about end of life questions. I wish a lot of things about her home-going. Especially a wish that I had been there. I would have liked to sing to her…to sing her home.
In the week following my friend’s home-going, I kept envisioning this sweet little boat carrying my dear friend to the shores of heaven. In this vision, I, along with many others, was singing songs of hope and love, as if the swell of music was the wind filling her sail, guiding her to where rest and wholeness would be hers forever. A cadence of words came spilling out in my mind and a desire to stitch them into a fragment.
Somewhere in the sadness and wishing that I’d been able to sing her home, I realized that this may not have been Marion’s desire, though I don’t think she would have minded at all. I realized that this is my desire, at least here on this side of heaven, where I sit healthy and whole. Who knows how I’d feel after years of battling cancer, struggling for my breath, lying in a hospital bed. When I posted thoughts on the day my friend died, another friend recounted in the comments, a time when she was able to do just this… stand around a dear one’s hospital bed with other friends singing hymns and songs of hope. It is possible. Yet I have no way of knowing how my final days will play out. None of us do.
What we can do is listen for the song of heaven right now, right where we are, where we walk and drive and work and play. We can slow down or stop our blistering pace long enough to hear the strains of music lapping on the shore of our earthbound lives. We can sing along, to ourselves and to each other, making music in our hearts and throughout our days. I’m still playing Christmas music. I think I will for quite a while. The hymns and choral tunes of Christmastide are some of the most hope filled and heartening music I know. And I will continue stitching threads of color and texture in and through found fabrics, like moments and pieces of my life.
Let us sing on, dear friends, as pilgrims in a weary land, keeping our eyes on that distant shore.
The Singing Boat
I’d like to go in a singing boat
Carried along by voices that float
And harmonies pure ringing me home
To that distant shore…no more to roam.
My earthbound boat is a Mazda today
Winging me to and fro in the fray.
I’ll trade it in on a ship so yar
It’s lines like music to all near and far.
The way now is choppy, a blustery gale,
A tempest enough to make any heart fail.
Yet I am bound for a glassy sea
That sings sweet notes lovely and free.
Some days, those notes, I can hear at my feet
Little waves lapping, tapping a beat.
A rhythm of joy! It’s faint but true –
Music from a land awaiting me and you.
For now I will strain to hear above the crashing
Of highways and byways and sentiments lashing,
The melody that calls and sweetly swells
Til my boat sings me home with glorious bells.
— Jennifer Edwards