Lately, I have noticed that I walk around camp singing songs under my breath, sometimes more audibly than I realize until I get an odd look from a passerby. Walking is my typical mode of transportation, unless I have to take the truck to the MAIN post, another story altogether.
Every time I put one foot in front of the next, heading off to a meeting in most cases, I find myself enveloped in song. As I concentrate on keeping good footing on the rocks, the song begins to play in my head. This is not a new phenomenon for me. In fact, the only way I got through many an Army march was by singing my way to the finish. I can’t really remember where I was marching or even in what year of my life, but I remember the words of the song that helped me to continue on, that kept my energy flowing.
These days I am singing a song I learned in Bible School some years ago. The refrain, pretty much all that I remember goes, “So rise and shine and give God the glory, glory… children of the Lord.” There is a noticeable pep to my step whenever I am singing it, even when I am headed to the “latrines.” I can’t help myself. It just comes to mind, all times of day, no matter how the day has unfolded. The only problem with this particular Bible School special is that it comes with hand motions. I have caught myself, on more than one occasion, perched for the choreography, jazz hands at the ready. I always stop my arms from shooting up, right at the last minute. And, then I laugh at how ridiculous it is that I am walking around a combat zone, singing songs about God that I learned more than two decades ago. Yet, on any given day, as crazy as it may sound, I can’t help myself.
It is truly a mystery, what is written into our fabric, even when we don’t realize it. Almost daily, I hear stories about earlier memories of church or spirituality which shed great light on a person’s experience of God. Sometimes, these stories are similar to my favorite ones from church, but sadly, sometimes these stories are painful and harsh and completely incongruous to what I have seen and known as a part of the church. When I hear these kinds of stories, I don’t blame them from walking away. I probably would have, too. Yet, sometimes I wish I could just give them a glimpse into the fullness of what a community of faith can be.
Whether I would share memories of the annual “mile” long ice cream Sunday reserved only for the church picnic, breaking Subway bread with a rag tag small group on a Thursday night, gathering in a manger on a cold Christmas Eve night, people and animals joined together to follow a star, or simply the weekly infusion of love, support, and grace I have known being a part of a church, the point is, after all this time, I can’t help but sing, even here. I don’t think it is possible to forget this kind of song, no matter how long it may be set aside. The song is a part of our very being, who we were when we were young and went a long with the music almost unquestionably, who we are now, even if the melody has become unfamiliar, and who we will be, when there is no breath left to sing.
“So, rise and shine and give God the glory, glory… children of the Lord.”