Sunday afternoon

9 10 2005

Today after church I gathered music charts from the various stands and joined George, who stood talking with one of the elders. George turned to me and grinned. “I just volunteered you for something this afternoon.”

“Oh, really? What’s that?”

The elder also smiled. “I can’t reach the guy who said he’d hold a worship service today at Merritt Plaza Nursing Home, so George agreed to speak.”

George added, “And I told him you’d play the piano.”

I shrugged. “Okay with me.”

Ryan, our praise band guitarist, also volunteered to play, so George, Jacob, and I met him at Merritt Plaza about five minutes before the service was supposed to begin. When George suggested I play while the residents gathered, I launched into some of the older, familiar hymns, and Ryan played along.

About half-way through the first song, I heard another guitar behind me and glanced over my shoulder. One of the residents–a woman who appeared to be in her sixties or so–was hunched over a beat-up, three-quarter-size classical, strumming away. Her strings weren’t tuned, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because she played in her own key at her own, energetic pace. Given her age and physical agility, I’m guessing a mentally degenerative condition landed her in the nursing home. She obviously loved music. Her enthusiastic performance inspired me to play with more gusto and a grin on my face.

A few minutes later the woman stopped playing, approached Jacob, and tried to hand him her guitar. After a brief, Three-Stooges-esque swap routine involving Jacob’s Bible and the guitar, the woman managed to place the Bible on the piano bench and the guitar in Jacob’s lap.

Jacob was so sweet, he never uttered a word of protest as he attempted to accomodate her wishes for him to play, but he doesn’t have the fine motor ability to handle a guitar. He just looked at it helplessly until the woman took it back.

Then she pulled out a harmonica. Much to my surprise and delight, she was quite good, as long as I stayed in the key of C. George cheered her on, and she played for a while. But then she tried to hand the harmonica to Jacob, too. This time George intervened before he took it.

When George began the actual service, the woman left the meeting room. A dozen or so residents had gathered, most in wheelchairs, and a few seated at tables. We sang several hymns, and then George spoke on the first part of Isaiah 43. He encouraged them to believe that God had been with them in every stage of their lives and still is, no matter how hard and hopeless circumstances can seem. He told them their life purpose hasn’t changed–that it is still to bring glory and pleasure to God.

As he spoke I remembered one of the last times I visited my grandmother before she died. Mimi had suffered several strokes, and her entire left side was paralyzed. When I said God could still use her–even if it was just to love people–her face lit up, and she whispered, “There are so many people to love.”

I scanned the faces at the service this afternoon, and I knew that even if only a mustard seed of faith remained in them, they could move mountains with their prayers. There are so many people who need prayer. So many people to love.

When George finished speaking, we sang one more hymn. Then Ryan and I played while George walked around and visited the residents. The musical lady came back in–this time without her guitar. She stood beside the piano bench and watched me. Then she said, “Do you mind if I join you?”

“Not at all!” I scooted over and made room for her on the bench.

Her fingers immediately formed chords and she played, but again in a different key. I paused, glanced at her hands, and adjusted to match her, but she’d already stopped. Her confused expression made me think she’d expected to blend right in, and the discordant sound had surprised her. I felt pretty certain she’d been an accomplished musician at some point. The music inside her ached for release, but her brain could no longer readily comply.

“We’ll play in C if you like,” I said. I reached over and played the chord in front of her, but she still just watched. So I started playing Jesus Loves Me. She stared at my hands with an intensity in her eyes that broke my heart. Then, instead of playing, she sang. “They are weak, but Thou art strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes . . .”

Her voice trailed off as her face contorted and tears sprang to her eyes. Then–embarrassed–she quickly rose and scuttled out of the room, followed by the lullaby-like notes and my prayers.

Merritt Plaza isn’t just a nursing home to our family. Nine years ago Jacob lived there for eight months as he emerged from coma. It was there he first cried. It was there he first laughed. During those months I came to fully understand that broken bodies and addled minds imprison living souls. No one is insignificant. Everyone matters.

God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, and some of those “weak things” are living out their last days in a wheelchair in the antiseptic halls of a humble nursing facility. Day after day they sit, believing. Worshiping. Loving. And mattering to God.

They are weak, but He is strong. Yes. Jesus loves me.
And you.
And them.

The Bible tells me so.


Actions

Information

51 responses

9 10 2005
Anonymous

Beautiful

What a powerful story. Wish we could have been there. Ain’t God grand?

Alicia and I led worship again tonight. Just wasn’t the same without you and the Belmont Boys.

Mike

9 10 2005
Anonymous

Beautiful

What a powerful story. Wish we could have been there. Ain’t God grand?

Alicia and I led worship again tonight. Just wasn’t the same without you and the Belmont Boys.

Mike

9 10 2005
Anonymous

Beautiful

What a powerful story. Wish we could have been there. Ain’t God grand?

Alicia and I led worship again tonight. Just wasn’t the same without you and the Belmont Boys.

Mike

9 10 2005
furiavriel

all your posts make me cry. but that still isn’t a bad thing.

l.l

9 10 2005
furiavriel

all your posts make me cry. but that still isn’t a bad thing.

l.l

9 10 2005
furiavriel

all your posts make me cry. but that still isn’t a bad thing.

l.l

10 10 2005
Anonymous

from relevantgirlie

Wow. Made me cry. Thanks for sharing your story.

10 10 2005
Anonymous

from relevantgirlie

Wow. Made me cry. Thanks for sharing your story.

10 10 2005
Anonymous

from relevantgirlie

Wow. Made me cry. Thanks for sharing your story.

10 10 2005
Anonymous

The blessings flow both ways

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I’ve worked in nursing homes, my mom has been an activities aide in a nursing home — I know how much it means to have people come share music and Bible study with the residents. But I can tell you also received a blessing, too. It reminds me how God honors the gifts we bring to him.
Linda Gilmore

10 10 2005
Anonymous

The blessings flow both ways

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I’ve worked in nursing homes, my mom has been an activities aide in a nursing home — I know how much it means to have people come share music and Bible study with the residents. But I can tell you also received a blessing, too. It reminds me how God honors the gifts we bring to him.
Linda Gilmore

10 10 2005
Anonymous

The blessings flow both ways

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I’ve worked in nursing homes, my mom has been an activities aide in a nursing home — I know how much it means to have people come share music and Bible study with the residents. But I can tell you also received a blessing, too. It reminds me how God honors the gifts we bring to him.
Linda Gilmore

10 10 2005
jaezesse

Momzy, why do you always go and wreck perfectly wonderful, un-emotional days with your livejournal posts?

I love you. And Daddy. And Jacob.

10 10 2005
jaezesse

Momzy, why do you always go and wreck perfectly wonderful, un-emotional days with your livejournal posts?

I love you. And Daddy. And Jacob.

10 10 2005
jaezesse

Momzy, why do you always go and wreck perfectly wonderful, un-emotional days with your livejournal posts?

I love you. And Daddy. And Jacob.

11 10 2005
Anonymous

Wonderful post.

11 10 2005
Anonymous

Wonderful post.

11 10 2005
Anonymous

Wonderful post.

11 10 2005
Anonymous

Wonderful post.

(clockwork)

11 10 2005
Anonymous

Wonderful post.

(clockwork)

11 10 2005
Anonymous

Wonderful post.

(clockwork)

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Beautiful

Thanks, Mike.

If we had half a good reason to move to Nashville, I’d jump on it and play with you and Alicia every week. And I’d definitely lasso Jesse and Casey into the gig, too. My love to your family.

J.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Beautiful

Thanks, Mike.

If we had half a good reason to move to Nashville, I’d jump on it and play with you and Alicia every week. And I’d definitely lasso Jesse and Casey into the gig, too. My love to your family.

J.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Beautiful

Thanks, Mike.

If we had half a good reason to move to Nashville, I’d jump on it and play with you and Alicia every week. And I’d definitely lasso Jesse and Casey into the gig, too. My love to your family.

J.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

I know what you mean. They make me cry, too. Or at least the realities behind the stories make me cry. But it isn’t a bad thing at all. A heart incapable of breaking can’t love, either. And what good is that?

I think of you a thousand times a day.
xo

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

I know what you mean. They make me cry, too. Or at least the realities behind the stories make me cry. But it isn’t a bad thing at all. A heart incapable of breaking can’t love, either. And what good is that?

I think of you a thousand times a day.
xo

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

I know what you mean. They make me cry, too. Or at least the realities behind the stories make me cry. But it isn’t a bad thing at all. A heart incapable of breaking can’t love, either. And what good is that?

I think of you a thousand times a day.
xo

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: from relevantgirlie

Thanks, Mary. And you’re welcome.

Love, J.A., le T.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: from relevantgirlie

Thanks, Mary. And you’re welcome.

Love, J.A., le T.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: from relevantgirlie

Thanks, Mary. And you’re welcome.

Love, J.A., le T.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: The blessings flow both ways

So true. I admire you for working in a nursing home, Linda. I think that takes a special gift and double portion of mercy to do well, and I’m sure you brought joy and comfort to the people whose lives you touched.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: The blessings flow both ways

So true. I admire you for working in a nursing home, Linda. I think that takes a special gift and double portion of mercy to do well, and I’m sure you brought joy and comfort to the people whose lives you touched.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: The blessings flow both ways

So true. I admire you for working in a nursing home, Linda. I think that takes a special gift and double portion of mercy to do well, and I’m sure you brought joy and comfort to the people whose lives you touched.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Wrecking your days is my sole raison d’etre. 😉

I love you, too. And so does Daddy. And Jacob.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Wrecking your days is my sole raison d’etre. 😉

I love you, too. And so does Daddy. And Jacob.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Wrecking your days is my sole raison d’etre. 😉

I love you, too. And so does Daddy. And Jacob.

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Thanks, B. And what’s new with you?

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Thanks, B. And what’s new with you?

11 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Thanks, B. And what’s new with you?

12 10 2005
Anonymous

I’m right there with you…

Really, Jeanne, I am…My mother, a nursing home resident, struggles to see the value in the old folks there. Of course, she has a hard time realizing her value, also. I’m continually fascinated with the essence that still remains in the hearts of those I meet. Thank you for reminding me to look for it every day. Love, Katy http://www.fallible.com

12 10 2005
Anonymous

I’m right there with you…

Really, Jeanne, I am…My mother, a nursing home resident, struggles to see the value in the old folks there. Of course, she has a hard time realizing her value, also. I’m continually fascinated with the essence that still remains in the hearts of those I meet. Thank you for reminding me to look for it every day. Love, Katy http://www.fallible.com

12 10 2005
Anonymous

I’m right there with you…

Really, Jeanne, I am…My mother, a nursing home resident, struggles to see the value in the old folks there. Of course, she has a hard time realizing her value, also. I’m continually fascinated with the essence that still remains in the hearts of those I meet. Thank you for reminding me to look for it every day. Love, Katy http://www.fallible.com

13 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: I’m right there with you…

I’m sure you are right there with me, Katy. I’d say you’re the expert by now.

I hope your mom (and her ribs) are doing okay.

13 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: I’m right there with you…

I’m sure you are right there with me, Katy. I’d say you’re the expert by now.

I hope your mom (and her ribs) are doing okay.

13 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: I’m right there with you…

I’m sure you are right there with me, Katy. I’d say you’re the expert by now.

I hope your mom (and her ribs) are doing okay.

21 10 2005
Anonymous

WOW!

Oh my gosh, Jeanne,
This story made me CRY! How beautiful. You are a blessing to all who know you, and the music God has poured into your soul reaches even through prison bars of worn out minds and shuttered souls.

You rock, girl.

Kelli

21 10 2005
Anonymous

WOW!

Oh my gosh, Jeanne,
This story made me CRY! How beautiful. You are a blessing to all who know you, and the music God has poured into your soul reaches even through prison bars of worn out minds and shuttered souls.

You rock, girl.

Kelli

21 10 2005
Anonymous

WOW!

Oh my gosh, Jeanne,
This story made me CRY! How beautiful. You are a blessing to all who know you, and the music God has poured into your soul reaches even through prison bars of worn out minds and shuttered souls.

You rock, girl.

Kelli

24 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: WOW!

Thanks, Kelli. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Lots happening, and I know much good will come from it.

You’re an inspiration to me. I’m blessed to know this story touched you.

Love, Jeanne

24 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: WOW!

Thanks, Kelli. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Lots happening, and I know much good will come from it.

You’re an inspiration to me. I’m blessed to know this story touched you.

Love, Jeanne

24 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: WOW!

Thanks, Kelli. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Lots happening, and I know much good will come from it.

You’re an inspiration to me. I’m blessed to know this story touched you.

Love, Jeanne

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: