When I was in college my grandmother passed away. Both of my parents were the younger children of older parents and so I never knew two of my grandparents and felt like I lost my other grandparents too early. Gissy was my father’s mother and she was a character. She always dressed in these brightly colored tracksuits with matching Keds. Her closet was FULL of Keds in every color – some she had dyed herself to match a particular outfit. Her arms would rattle and clang as her many bracelets and bangles would swing around as she spoke. And she would never be seen in public without lipstick on her lips. Her outward appearance reflected her inner joy. Gissy was so full of life and love. She adored spending time with family and friends and was always ready for a good party.
When she got sick and was dying in the hospital it was hard for me to see that light slowly dim and her eyes reflect fear and sorrow instead of the love and warmth I had associated with my Gissy’s eyes. As the family was planning her funeral service, I was upset that they had chosen all hymns that I considered sad and funereal. These hymns didn't represent Gissy’s joy and light, so I offered to sing and roped my sister and cousin into helping me. We sang For the Beauty of the Earth arranged by John Rutter. (Here is a version of the song sung by a youth choir)
There have been a few times since that funeral service that this song has been sung by a choir for Sunday morning worship. This past Sunday was one of those times and I was immediately transported back to my grandmother’s funeral. I was hit with a mix of emotions that had nothing to do with the worship service I was sitting in and everything to do with my grief and joy in remembering Gissy.
Music is powerful. I am sure that you, like me, have songs or hymns that can transport you through time. They can remind you of times of grief like funeral services or times of joy like your first dance. They can bring you back to the first concert you ever attended or those late nights singing lullabies to your crying baby. Whenever you hear music in church, on the radio, or in the store, you never know what journey down memory lane you are in store for and that is very exciting.