****WARNING! I'M ABOUT TO GUSH! PULL OUT YOUR GALOSHES!****
Today was such a blessed day. I can't even put into words the feelings I have. For the first time in my 36 years of existence I am a member, body and soul, of a church. I was recognized by the church today and it was such a tremendous feeling. All of the sincere love coming from everyone was really wonderful. As I made my way back to the choir loft, I couldn't help but wish my Dad was physically there to witness it. I know he was spiritually, but having him there in person would have been such a treat. I was so emotional at the wonderful-ness of it all, that I cried through the meditation afterward. It always gets me weepy to sing the Lord's Prayer after the meditation when I've been thinking about my Dad because when I got to see him after he died, that's what I sang to him. I think he approved.
So now, with no hesitation I can truly say that I'm a member of Atlanta Unity Church. I am so thankful and grateful to God for bringing me to this church.
I was feeling kind of torn after the service because I really wanted to go to lunch with Bran, Merrideth and Jef, but I had committed to go to Shepherd Spinal Center with members of the choir to sing for their afternoon service. Since I committed, I got into my car and drove over there, wishing I was laughing and cutting up with my friends at lunch.
However, I walked into their chapel and spoke with the Chaplain and saw the faces of these people that have been through more than a person should and all of my selfishness slipped away. I was clearly where I was needed.
I sat down and waited for the other choir members to arrive and I gently scanned the congregation. People wheelchair bound, and their families sat together. The looks on their faces varied from quiet acceptance of their situation to stunned amazement that they had ended up at Shepherd Spinal Center. For those of you that may not know, Shepherd Spinal Center is where you go when you've had severe spinal or brain injury.
Finally the service started and we sang "Heal Me Back To God," "Total Praise," and "It Is Well With My Soul," in between the bible reading and the Chaplain's talk. By the time we sang our 3rd song, a man who was sitting with his wife, a teenage son and his girlfriend, broke down in tears. He sobbed with so much pain that none of us in the choir could keep from crying. He wasn't so much crying because of his physical pain, but at the pain of his heart and soul. His wife gently held him as he wept.
After the traditional service, those that wanted to could be anointed with healing oil. One of the men, that was also a patient, is an elder in his church and he spoke softly with each person. After that was complete, they would roll forward and be anointed by the Chaplain.
The man, his wife and the teenage son waited for his turn. The teenager clung to his Dad and whispered in his ear as his Dad continued to weep. We were witness to all of this tragic beauty as this family tried to soothe the man's pain.
When all were anointed, we held hands and sang "Amazing Grace." The man's younger son who had been elsewhere during the service came in and his Dad leaned his head on his younger son's shoulder and continued to cry. The poor boy didn't know what to do since his Dad was crying, but he tried so hard to be brave.
After we cleaned up our eyes, we went to several nurse's stations and sang. They put us on the intercom so those that were bedridden could hear us as well. We even got to go into the ICU and sing.
Everyone thanked us for coming and spending our afternoon with them. However it was truly us that were blessed. The faces of the patients, the faces of their families, the faces of the nurses as they soaked in the message of our music was nothing short of Amazing Grace. They touched us as much, if not more, than we touched them.
The strength of these individuals that live in wheelchairs temporarily or permanently is amazing. I'm honored to be witness to this strength in my everyday life in my friend, Bran. He's one of the strongest, bravest, sweetest, most wonderful souls I know. I love you and respect you with all of my heart, Bran. You are one of my all time heros.
I left the Shepherd Spinal Center and drove through downtown Atlanta. I saw all of these happy folks out walking in groups and it dawned on me that this was the AIDS Walk. I'm normally involved in the AIDS walk, but this year it slipped away from me. I smiled and honked and cheered everyone on as I drove slowly down Peachtree St. I silently wondered if these people understood how lucky they are to be taking a stroll down Peachtree on a glorious Sunday afternoon.
Thank you, God for the blessings that were bestowed upon me today.
I am thankful for my church, my health, my friends and family, (both blood and adopted) and glorious Sunday afternoons. What are you thankful for?