Although Kimball Farm is renowned for its ice cream, and I did enjoy my new flavor, I made the trip primarily for the company. It was great to spend time with my friend and her children. We met twenty-eight years ago this month, in a freshman dorm, and instantly became fast friends. Our friendship has survived the test of time and place, spanning different states, countries, and even continents. I am thankful that we are still close, and that we are still able to find the time to stay connected.
As the years go by, I realize more and more that it is the connections we make with others that really matter in this world. I have a story about this, and although it takes place in a church, the important part of the story happens after the service ends.
A few weeks ago I was playing the organ and piano for our Sunday church service. After I arrived, the summer visiting priest came over to speak to me. Thinking that he was checking on the music, I immediately gave him a list of the service hymns. He listened patiently, noted that he was not actually serving for this particular service, and told me that he was sorry that he had not had the chance to hear my children sing a duet. It took me a moment to realize what he was talking about. And then I remembered.
My son had served as a song leader in church a number of times this summer. Weeks ago, this priest had complimented his singing, and then asked my middle daughter if she liked to sing as well. I had told him that she did in fact sing, and that perhaps the kids could sing a duet in church for him when I played for one of the services. And then I had forgotten all about it.
Unfortunately, this Sunday was to be his last with our parish, as he had to return to his mission in Africa. I hastily apologized and felt terrible that I had forgotten.
The service began, but I still felt badly, and could not let it go. I began to think about how the kids could perform a duet before the priest left. I went into the back room during a pause in the service and found a song that my kids knew very well. From the organ, I mouthed to my daughter and son the idea to sing for the priest after church. I saw the priest enter the sacristy and I scurried through a back passageway, to ask if he would like to hear the kids sing after church ended. He seemed very pleased.
After the service ended, he headed toward the back of the church to greet some parishioners, assuring me that he would return in five minutes. He returned, and the four of us gathered at the piano. People were still milling about the church but we did not care. I played the opening notes of "Who Would Imagine a King," and my teenage son and daughter sang the beautiful words, alternating on the verses and joining together on the refrain. The priest listened and smiled a beautiful smile, and when it was done, offered words of thanks and encouragement, especially to my daughter who had not sung for him before.
Sharing that song was the nicest thing that happened that Sunday, and probably that week.
How many times do we say something in passing, promise something, refer to something, and then forget all about it? It can happen all too often in our busy world. But the person on the other end of the conversation may actually be listening.
During the service, I had doubts about whether I was doing the right thing. Would the priest really care? Had the moment already passed? Should I be paying more attention to the service instead of scurrying around, trying to plan an impromptu concert? I decided to do it anyway. And I'm so glad that I did.
It's in the connections, in the sharing and doing for others, that we find the joy and the reward. Sometimes the connections are those that we have cultivated for years. Sometimes the connections are fleeting, momentary, created in the length of time it takes to sing a song.
There was a moment of grace in the sharing of that song. I call it God's presence. Some may just call it grace, or goodness, or connection. Either way, it's good news.
Have a sweet week.