79: Amazing Grace

79: Amazing Grace

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Amazing Grace

Faith makes the discords of the present the harmonies of the future.

~Robert Collyer

My mother’s singing left a lot to be desired, but her lack of talent didn’t stop her from belting out the songs from our church hymn book loudly and off-key. While I’d seen her scare a few crows away from the corn patch, I personally loved it. When she was hoeing a half-acre of weeds in the garden, her screechy but cheery voice convinced me that although she was working hard she enjoyed the time spent in meditation.

If I happened to go through the barn while she was milking the cattle, her rendition of “Rock of Ages” might reverberate through the rafters. I’d hear her on the way to the hen house to collect the eggs, and the strains of “Standing on the Promises” echoing across the knolls were almost musical.

Without a doubt, her favorite was “Amazing Grace.” She not only sang, but believed, that hymn. She sang it so heartfelt and gratefully there was no doubt she placed herself within the words when she sang “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we’ve first begun.” I often woke to those lyrics as she cooked pancakes at the coal stove in the kitchen and went to sleep with them ringing in my ears as she tucked me under the comforters at night.

When she passed away, at her request we played “Amazing Grace” at the funeral. I thought my heart would burst with all the memories it brought back. But as the final notes faded away, I felt joy knowing my mother was a woman of great faith who knew that grace had brought her though her “danger, toils and snares” and grace had led her home.

Many years later, I waited nervously in the cardiac clinic at my local hospital to have a stress test. I was not physically able to perform the standard treadmill exam, so my increased heart rate would be chemically induced.

The small room was crammed with other patients and their supportive family and friends. I suddenly wished I had allowed my daughter to accompany me. I had stubbornly insisted on doing this alone.

As the minutes ticked by, my nerves frayed even further and I longed for my mother. I realized what she meant when she said no matter how old you get, you never quit worrying about your kids. And you never stop wanting your mother. Especially in scary situations.

I tried to fix my eyes on the television. Cheers and applause from The Price Is Right game show filled the air. I turned away, trying not to think of Bob Barker, new cars, and the fact that my entire future (or lack of it) hung on the results of the stress test.

Suddenly the unmistakable strains of “Amazing Grace” filled the room. With the song came a deep sense of peace and solace. Had someone switched channels? No, because the screen showed a young woman jumping up and down, having just won a trip to some exotic beach. The other patients in the waiting room were riveted by the game show.

This melodious rendition of my mother’s favorite hymn was for my ears only. I felt calm as I realized I was not alone after all. I clung to the words from the seldom-sung fourth stanza “The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures.” And I realized, as my mother had, that “He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.”

This all happened more than ten years ago. My heart was so filled with my mother’s love and my Father’s grace there was no room for blockage.

~Shirley Nordeck Short

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