Thursday, February 19, 2009

Love is Spoken Here

My sister invited me to her Stake Relief Society Enrichment Night tonight. I wasn't sure I wanted to go. After a hard week with politics, heartaches, and midterm grades, I felt I needed to use my time grading papers and actually being a mom to my children for once, but how could I even consider missing this chance to hear Janice Kapp Perry speak and sing? Soon it was all arranged: Scott picked up my mom on the way home from work and she joined us for dinner; my brother's wife came and picked us up at my house, and off we went to meet my sister. It was actually just what I needed. One evening of spiritual peace, of singing my guts out, of laughing so hard I was crying, of good food and fun times with the women in my family.

Toward the beginning, after saying a few things, Sister Perry had us join her in singing a medley of some of the primary songs she has written. They all had such meaning to me, and I smiled as I sang with my voice and my heart, memories flooding back to me with each song. It started with "A Child's Prayer" and ended with "Love is Spoken Here", and I thought of our courtship and times singing these duets with Scott at his parents' piano, or as we hiked down the Lake Desolation trail together. "Army of Helaman" reminded me of Scott's missionary farewell, when he and several other of our male choir friends from high school sang it, many of them already with their mission calls, others working on putting their papers in to serve missions. "I love to See the Temple" reminded me of my own days as a child in primary, when the Jordan River temple was being built. "I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ" brought back fond memories of our 3-4 year old "sunbeam" son (who is now 11) singing every word with precision and enthusiasm. (I wish I had that on video.) And "I'm trying to be like Jesus" reminded me that I need to try harder to be like Him in all that I do and say. I'm afraid that my attitude has not been very Christlike this week, and I can definitely do better.

There was humorous interaction between Brother and Sister Perry, as he joined her with a few words in their own family song, and then planted a passionate kiss on her. She got him back after waiting for him to switch the audio back on at the podium and by saying something to the effect of "He still has the power to turn me on." They were adorable, just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. I needed a good laugh and I got it.

At the end she shared an amazing story with us. She learned about a poem President Hinckley had written through a niece of hers that was sick with cancer. The niece suggested that she ask him if she could set it to music. She timidly wrote him a letter, he responded that it would be great, but to make sure it got his approval before publishing it in a book of new hymns.

The hymn was written, and she sent it off to the Prophet for approval. Meanwhile, her niece passed away and the song was printed and sung at the funeral. Two weeks later, President Hinckley passed away. Janice was sad that she had never received his approval for publication of the hymn. The next day, she received a letter in the mail from President Hinckley giving her the approval. Apparently one of the last things he did before leaving his office on Friday was to write this letter. His secretary mailed it on Saturday, he passed away on Sunday, and Monday she received it in the mail. Less than a week later, the Tabernacle Choir sang it at his funeral. The story gave me chills. The hymn is "What is This Thing That Men Call Death"

What is this thing that men call death,
This quiet passing in the night?
'Tis not the end, but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.

O God, touch Thou my aching heart
And calm my troubled haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.

There is no death, but only change,
With recompense for vict'ry won.
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.

I have to thank my Heavenly Father tonight for giving me this experience: to sing, to laugh, to feel the spirit and peace in my heart, knowing that the gospel is true, and no matter what has transpired in the Utah legislature this past week, God is mindful of all of his children. He has a plan for each of us, and we need to have faith in Him, let Him calm our fears, give us strength and peace beyond our tears and anger. We may not understand why this is happening or how it will turn out in the years and eternities to come, but somehow everything will work out the way it is supposed to.


Pieces of Me said...

What an awesome experience for you. I love all her music too, its brings me a lot of memories and peace.

Cadence said...

thanks, I think I needed that too...

Bravone said...

Sarah, thanks for sharing your feelings and especially the music. I started playing on my computer here in the office and brought such peace. Thank you.


Ned said...

Great post, Sarah. I usually turn off blog music, but for some reason tonight, I just kept listening, and then basked in warm memories of singing these songs with my children, my extended family, and when my wife and I were primary teachers long ago. You're right it's been a tough week, but by sharing your experience and the music you've helped me tonight. Thanks to you and Scott for all you do.