UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Spirit Story

Surrounded by song

By Keith Reynolds


Marion Ramsdale’s faith was sung. She lit up while singing. People who knew her noticed it. People who didn’t soon saw it too. Marion, a committed member of our United Church’s choir, walked with music in her step.

When cancer arrived, knocking at her door, she allowed it to enter the melody of her life and couldn’t help but keep singing. She had rough days — when her usual smooth alto sounded more like sandpaper — but she trudged on.

It was hard for the choir to see Marion lose her lustre. The choir is close. They know how to care for each other, especially when someone’s heart aches, body weakens or spirit sags. They stayed in touch with Marion; their care was palpable.

Time progressed, and so did the cancer. Marion hoped to make it through the treatments. She found new ways to be grateful for little moments. Visits with her family became more poignant. Walks still happened, just not as far. Time with her husband continued, as did sharing conversations with friends and the rhythm of routines.

“I don’t have the energy to play my keyboard anymore,” she told me one day. “I think I’ll give it away. I wonder who might like it.” The question hung for a while in the air. Marion gave much of herself away in those remaining days. It was in her to give, and she did not resist.

On one particularly difficult day in the hospital, a few calls were made. “Come to the hospital. We’ll meet in the lobby,” was the message. All who were able dropped what they were doing and came.

Walking into Marion’s room, the choir gathered around her bed and sang their faith. Hymnbooks opened, and pages turned to sing familiar and favourite tunes. Tears flowed easily, hearts stirred and the bond of singing drew the faithful even closer to the Mystery of it all.

Marion remained in her bed, the joy of the moment washing over her. With eyes closed and then open, she acknowledged the gift before her. Those gathered acknowledged the gift before them as well. It was a mutual tribute magnified by music.

We didn’t stay long. Tenderness can become too much to bear while singing. The voice gives way, and the strength that comes from hymns can weary a person. Faith expresses itself but also knows its limits. We need each other to get through the singing, and then we need each other after we sing our song. It is that faith song that buoys us up as we tread the waters of life. It is the waters of life that sustain the spirit and those words we cannot be kept from singing. As the saying goes, a person who sings prays twice.

What started out as a gift for Marion transformed into something for all of us in that room: a gift, a grace, a testimony to God whose song resides in all of life — the One whose melody keeps us singing. Moments may arise when we struggle to sing. We don’t have to; there are others whose song will carry us in the melody of the Mystery.

Rev. Keith Reynolds is a minister at Southampton-Mount Hope (Ont.) Pastoral Charge.


Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image