A little pencil
The words of Mother Teresa speak volumes about the amazing grace I see here each day.
"I don't claim anything of the work. It's hard work. I'm like a little pencil in His hand. That's all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used."
Papa was a large, towering man. He would trudge through the house with heavy boots and overalls, hymns flowing from the lips concealed by his white bushy beard. Buttermilk flowed thick into the sky-blue translucent plastic cup. He'd finish his verse, sit in an armchair, and take a sip of his drink. Thick liquid melted into the yellowed strands of his mustache as he flipped through the thin pages of his worn Bible. It wasn't Sunday. Just another day. But a new day was a good enough reason for worship.
I learned to play Amazing Grace on the recorder. It was one of the more difficult songs, but it was familiar and I was enthusiastic about learning it. It took some effort, but I picked it up quickly, singing the words in my head as I smashed each of my fingers onto the plastic holes, determined to avoid empty notes. My determination left red rings on the pads on my tiny fingers, but it was a marker of success. I grew sad when they would start to fade. My fifth grade music class had a challenge called "Recorder Karate", and I got my "brown belt" for managing to master the song. I don't recall playing it for Papa.
I seldom went to church, but I learned most of the songs they'd sing on Sunday mornings from my grandfather's voice bouncing through the narrow hallway in the early afternoon. The times I did go, I'd perk up when they asked us to turn to page 43. I couldn't read the notes, at least not anymore, but I knew the tune well. The pews vibrated with the low hum of a hundred voices singing along, and it was one of the few times I didn't stumble through the lyrics. Papa never went with me- he'd written off Edgewood Church of Christ many years before. His relationship with his creator was his own to determine. I would soon follow suit.
In the last weeks of Papa's life, I stayed up with him reflecting on the decades prior. He was slipping into an illness induced delirium, but present enough to finally allow his vulnerability. He began to sing, and my mother stepped in the room to join us. We sang Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, but it was a moment filled with Grace all the same.
As I tucked a small ceramic angel into the breast pocket of the suit he was to be buried in, Papa's Greatest Hits accompanied a slideshow playing on a TV mounted in the corner of the room. My aunt and uncles mused over the familiarity of the songs, and his surviving siblings commented on the significance of each tune. I sat quietly nearby, reckoning with my private conclusions.
When I am lost and blinded by my pain, I find myself returning to the same memories. They are warm and rife with perspective, even though they've become less perfect as I grow older. As I type this, I am sitting at the table where Papa would teach me riddles, humming the melody since the words have since become so murky. I am not religious and despite my upbringing, I never really have been. Still, I cannot deny the swelling of my heart when certain notes begin to play. Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come. It was Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace that leads me home.
Slumped shoulders downward head
regrets held so long
for actions and things that were said or not said
the sorrow of a heart without a song
On my knees
tears stream down
Please hear my pleas
For in these rising raging waters I feel as though I may drown
A radiating light shines through
A peace, an embrace covering me in pure love
Everything good, real and so true
As he touched my face
within my silent heart a song has been found
How sweet the sound.
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I'm found
But now I see"
I used to despise singing this song in church because it was slow and made me yawn. Now it has a new meaning. Instead of despise, an overwhelming sense of gratitude. It is said that when we get to Heaven, the Angels will have to remain silent when we sing this song. For they don't know what grace is, they never needed it.
I was in a relationship and we talked alot about love ones that have move on. One particular person is her aunt that passed and she didn't get to see her as much as she wanted. She told me that she would have probably loved me if she had met me. Well, later that day I was working at my store on the counter, and my employees kept telling me that a customer was demanding to see me. I looked down the counter and there was a lady standing there all in black and she was black, darked skin with a mini curly bush. So I went down the counter to talk to her. She stared me down. I greeted her and she smiled and said hello. She said "You have the prettiest smile.". I said "Thank you". Well just then my employee needed a manager's signature and I said excuse me for a second and looked off to put my signature and turn back around and she was gone. I went outside to look for her and it was if she had vanished in thin air. Once I ask around it seem that no one saw her but me. Creepy enough, I finished working and went home. I told my girlfriend about the store. She looked at me as if she had seen a ghost. She told me that the lady I met that day was her aunt that we were talking about early. She said I described her to a tee. That explained why I was the only one that saw her. True story.
Shines of all kinds
the fog thins, and upon the waters: light.
you can not resist the radiance.
out of darkness of night,
of terror and pain.
appears the luminecesence,
that reminds you of the things,
of better times.
the damp and swelter,
the hunger and lonesome,
the light forgives you,
the flouressence sooths,
as your eyes open, seeing,
your ears hear, but do not listen,
there is no melody,
but silent harmony,
a rise above the water
a chorus of colors,
that wash clear through into retina,
and the follicles and cones,
transmit ceaselessly these sights,
a storm of lightning,
and finally see the details of it!
it is beyond your control.
an army of fireflies,
transmit in unison,
and what is the message
they so transmit?
it is only this:
In the Name of Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound, on a Sunday evening sitting in the middle of a church pew. Mr. Otis played the piano occasionally at church. He was a self taught musician, and never knew how to read music. Every time he played the song “Amazing Grace” it was a new and unique version. He would play and sing like a jazz musician in an old western saloon, but the words were always the same: "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” As he got older he would still play the piano with the same energy I remember from when I was little, but the age made it hard for him to sing past the first verse. It was okay though, cause the church would sing for him, and you could see the joy on his face. Mr. Otis was like a grandfather to my brothers and me. He even gave my family football tickets to a few University of Georgia Football games. He passed away last year, and when I hear the song played I smile and my eyes get a little watery. Mr. Otis was the embodiment of spreading love and joy in the name of amazing grace.
I was a wretch
I writhed in the driver seat of my car. I kicked my legs straight and clenched my muscles trying to help them stretch. The muscles itched. My arm pits were wet, always. The skin on my body was clammy. It was everyday. It was 70 degrees outside, but I had the heat all the way up. I sat there shivering. Writhing. I pushed greasy hair out of my face. I couldn’t take it. I had done this too long. Years. It just kept getting worse. I didn’t have anything left. I couldn’t remember the last time I had gone home. I couldn’t remember how many days it had been since I saw my daughter. Had it been weeks? I tried to push her out of my mind. The guilt made it harder. I couldn’t shake her face from my brain. I whacked my head backwards, hard against the headrest. Trying to shake the image of her away. Trying to shake the guilt. I kicked my legs again straight and clenched my muscles. I did the same with my arms. God they itched! I reached down and pulled the lever and lowered the seat back so I was lying down. I writhed around. I circled my feet, then my hands, trying to make the itch go away.
I went limp and let out a cry of exasperation. I couldn’t do it anymore. I stared at the ceiling of my car.
Please. Please God, help me. I can’t do this anymore. Please. Just don’t let it be cops.
I couldn’t imagine kicking like this in jail.
Please, please help me.
I would cry if I could.
I believe this moment was my amazing grace. I believe I surrendered at this moment. A few weeks later I was hospitalized. I was in the hospital for three months. From there, I worked my way into the recovery community.
I’m now sober six years.
I've been trying my best
Is my best good enough?
Though I have been blessed
You could put me out, with a huff
My conciousness is fragile
Please let me move on
My heart runs fast, ever so agile
But my memories, will always live on
So hide your face, hide your heart
Leave me be, and you'll go far
Find a fresh place, to restart
Pretend your words cannot scar
My mother has amazing grace
My mother has amazing grace.
That is why she smiles
and smiles every time.
Through trial and tribulation,
my mother shows amazing grace
and chooses to try again.
Like I said, my mother has amazing grace.
I am less graceful.
I would like to learn to be amazingly graceful as well.
Sometimes I cannot smile
and I just give up.
I lack grace but I have seen it modeled;
my mother has amazing grace.
I bask in the light of her halo.
I rejoice in every one of her smiles.
No matter what happens,
I will have a mother who loves me.