We sang my first favorite hymn today. Most of the songs we sang in church when I was little were pretty quiet and didn’t have much meaning to me. Honestly, as a kid I thought they were all pretty boring. “Down At the Cross” has such an upbeat melody to it and is so easy to learn that I was able to remember the lines and the melody quickly. I sang it loud, and often. As I sat on the swingset in the yard, as I cleaned my room – my poor mother. Only today did I realize that the song is categorized under “suffering, loss, blood” in our church hymnbook (but not in the one I have from our old church).
Singing it in the midst of my church family, I could feel all the versions of me singing this same song. The childhood me, swinging in the air. The new-Mom me, singing it to my babies because it was the only song I could think of. The slightly-crazed me, waiting for the end of another deployment and needing something familiar to hum. And now, the me who stands at the brink of so many changes.
Standing there, the child/the girl/the woman all together and repeating those familiar lines, I felt a sense of peace and even warmth towards the past and present versions of myself. A kindness and even forgiving feeling, letting go of past mistakes and various screw-ups. And I realized anew that this is what the song is about – we are washed in that forgiveness, we are loved despite ourselves, and we are to feel joy in the midst of what might seem categorically to be a tragedy. This is what God offers us.
So what am I thankful for, this eighth day of November? Today I give thanks for Mrs. Janie Quincey, who chooses our songs for us each week and plays them so well. And I give thanks for the message that I heard, singing between the lines.