Monday, September 19, 2016

The Thought

In the hall today, one of my 8th grade students, Jacob, told me he was ready for Christmas. We need to get through Thanksgiving first! This is about hymns and memories. It's from November 20, 2012. 
On Sunday night, I was sitting next to my wonderful sister-in-law, Sally, at worship services here in Wichita. The song leader called out a number and I randomly opened the hymnal. It opened to hymn # 500, One Sweetly Solemn Thought. It's one of my favorites but I'm not sure if I've sung it in church since I was little. It's also one of the standard hymns that aren't used anymore, at least where I've worshiped. Here are the words, penned in the 1850's by Phoebe Gary. (I omitted several verses that were not in my childhood songbook.) 

       One sweetly solemn thought
       Comes to me o’er and o’er;
       Today I'm nearer to my home
       Than e’er I’ve been before.

       Nearer my Father’s house,
       Where many mansions be;
       Nearer today, the great white throne,
       Nearer the crystal sea.

       Nearer the bound of life
       Where burdens are laid down;
       Nearer to leave the heavy cross,
       Nearer to gain the crown.

Savior, confirm my trust!
Complete my faith in Thee;
And let me feel as if I stood
Close to eternity.

Feel as if now my feet
Were slipping over the brink;
For I may now be nearer home,
Much nearer than I think.

As I sat, I re-read the words we sang in the church where Dad was the preacher. I was reminded how it has been five years since our final Thanksgiving with Dad and how it was such a special one and how it seems like it was only last week. Dad had suffered a stroke four months before and was desperately trying to recover as all of the children were trying to cope with the situation while living hundreds of miles away. Plus, Mom had Alzheimer's and we had get her into a nursing home there in St. Louis while making long term plans for both of their moves to Kansas. Here is what I wrote on my blog that night in 2007:

This was a Thanksgiving to remember! Last night, we began sorting through Mom's and Dad's belongings as a preliminary step to putting their house on the market. Sally and Karen decided it would be easier to buy our dinner at a restaurant so Thanksgiving was courtesy of Boston Market. They gave us a great deal on a meal for twelve and since there was a mix up, they threw in two free turkeys! Surrey Place provided a spacious room as well as drinks and plates/utensils free of charge! There were thirteen of us between the folks, the three boys, wives, grand kids, and Seth's lovely girlfriend, Lauren. Dad was so thrilled to have us together as a family, especially to spend a holiday with Mom. We opened our meal, at Dad's request, with the reading of Psalms 20 and 73. After lunch, we retired to the chapel and entertained ourselves for another half hour by singing, laughing, and just being together. Dad was worn out by the excitement and Mom was as well. We hope we have more of these celebrations in future years as a family. May the Lord bless you this November 22.

The picture at the top is their unmarried grandson, Ben, with Mom and Dad. In two days, that same Ben will celebrate Thanksgiving with his amazing wife, Courtney, and their first holiday with their four month old angel daughter, Jenson. And I'm reminded of the validity of those opening words of Phoebe Gary, that eternity is closer with every tick of the clock. This morning, I read the obituary section of my hometown newspaper/website. I was saddened to learn of the passing of the mother of one of my best high school friends/teammates, Dan Leininger. She was a great lady who was always so kind to me. I know Dan, his brother, Mike, and his sister, Jere, are mourning the same way we mourned the passing of our folks. Someday, others will mourn us. According to Phoebe Gary, that time may be close at hand. And also according to Ms. Gary, the thought of it is should be a combination of sweet and solemn. If it's not, I might need to re-think my life. What a blessing to be able to filter this life through the blood of Jesus; it gives clarity to my sometimes blurry existence

Applicable quote of the day:
“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”
Lemony Snicket (
Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid)

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

No comments: