Hymns, Harmonies, and Holes in Our Hearts

I just awoke from a mini-dream at the end of my sleep cycle.  I have these after I have been awake once in the morning but have chosen to try to squeeze in a bit more sleep.  The dream was literally a small scene, but  the thoughts that followed upon my waking led me to believe that I was meant to get up and write this post.

The dream was a quick conversation with my younger brother (also a Sioux hockey fan for those who care) who is married with two young boys. The conversation occurred on the phone as if I had just called him this morning. I do not know what we had been talking about on the phone, but it was clear that we had been having a lengthy conversation. 

The dream included his one phrase at what appeared to be the end of the conversation. 

He said, “I can’t really think about any of that today  You know it’s mom’s birthday, right?”

And then I woke up.

Today would be my mom’s 64th birthday.  I have written in the past about her birthday and do not want to go on and on too long (I do have to leave for Sunday School in about an hour, and I have not showered yet); however, blogging on her birthday seems to help me experience it. 

It also seems that when I wake up with something to blog about (today is the second time this has happened in week – muse is back?), I must blog about it in order to get that blog out of my head.

And – I have now realized that there are oodles of us out there…grievers, that is…and blog posts that recognize our grief tend to help us grieve.  And we need help!  We can read all of the books in the world on the topic, but nothing helps us grieve better than a shared experience…someone else’s grief that touches us a little bit and allows us to grieve our loved ones (and have a little cry even) through the grief of the loss of another’s loved one.

But I digress…as usual…

The fact that mom’s birthday falls on a Sunday this week catches me off guard a bit.

Through some strange twist of cosmic comedy, I agreed to co-teach a Sunday School class at our church during the winter/spring…which, by the way, is exactly what March in Minnesota should be called on the “season chart” – winter/spring (it really can’t decided).

The focus is on hymns – why we love them as they are written, what is the good theology in them, and how we might write our own hymn (minus the music in most of our cases!).

Although I do not know if the Doxology was one of my mom’s favorite hymns, it was probably the one that she knew the best.  As a Presbyterian for most of her life, she sang the Doxology during nearly every service as the offering was brought forward after the collection in order to offer it to God through prayer.


Though simple in its words, the hymn’s theology dives deep into what I believe about who God is: He is God in three persons and worthy of my praise because all blessings flow from His good graces despite that I deserve His wrath due to my sinful nature.

As a child and teenager, I often stood between my mom and her mom on Sunday mornings as we sang this song – three generations in three part harmony in the midst of a larger congregation.  It is a photograph in my mind’s eye that reminds me that my faith has a heritage and is part of a larger community of believers within the church and throughout the world.

That mind picture – and the song itself – also reminds me of the holes in my heart carved out by grief and loss. 

When my mom passed away in June 2003, I was amazed at how well my grandmother – her mom – dealt with it.  Though I am sure she had her share of tears in private, she was strong in the midst of it….at least that is how I remember it.  She kept going to work every day, going to the senior center to play Bingo and cards with her friends, and watching the Twins on TV. 

At one point, she did say that a mother should not outlive her children. 

That is a good observation, Grammy-cakes!

When my daughter and I would visit Grand Forks together, we would often take Gram to her church.  We would stand together – three generations again – and sing harmonies together.  I am quite sure that mom would have added her fourth part along with us had she been alive, and it would have been fun…if not amazing.

As time goes on, death – that unwelcome visitor – finds each of us…at our own doorstep or at our hearts because he stands at the doorsteps of others.  He found my gram at the end of May last year, and I added another hole in my heart.

She would have been 90 in February, and I noted her birthday with a wee nod in my mind.

I have thought of her quite a bit more now that the Twins are in spring training…

And so we mourn, grieve, cry, and scream because things are not as they should be.  We hide ourselves away from the world or go on but stuff it all away or just wonder if things will ever be the same (they will not be) or right again (I am not even sure what that means…).

We even wonder if God cares – how could He if He allows these things to happen?

The answer is that God cares very much. 

We are reminded of that in this Lenten season as well as at other times of the year.  God cares, sees, and cries with us.  He promises that we do not mourn without hope.  And – like the community that God Himself has in the trinity – He created us to be in community…to experience love, hope, joy, and even loss in community with one another.


He is, indeed, worthy of our praise.

Other posts about mourning that might interest you:


Filed under faith, Relationships, Thoughts

2 responses to “Hymns, Harmonies, and Holes in Our Hearts

  1. debbie hustad

    A tear slips down my face as I finish reading your blog. I grieve with you and have also holes in my heart. Many I shall not list but the main one is my mom. She passed in 1978. My youngest son was just a year old and older son Jacob just over two. My mom saw very few of her grandchildren. She was 49 years old. I am the middle of 5 sisters. All of us have reached the age of 49(and then some) and I have to say that as each of us came to that age we all were wondering if we would only make it that far. Cancer does terrible things to your mind as well as body. But here I am today given time to think and pray and be hopefully helpful to others. I believe with my ‘hole heart’ that God has each of our days numbered and a plan in place. It is not my job to worry or fret. But to pray and wait IN HIS GRACE. Again I am one of five sisters and unique. May God bless you today and always. I hope that in time that God will fill our heart holes with Himself-perhaps in heaven?


    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I will have to write about “the other side of the coin” sometime. Every day is not an awful day. 🙂 Thank you for reading…and commenting!


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