Last week the harmonies of a sweet voice and three stringed instruments wafted into my consciousness. I was at Belmont University preparing to speak at the Auxiliary Partners luncheon. The program always includes a performance by some of Belmont’s own, and I realized that the group today had a quick rehearsal going on in the next room. And then I realized something else that stopped me cold -- but before I tell you what that was, let me tell you this.
I had been invited to talk about “Hey, God? Yes, Charles.” and my remarks were going to be less about the book itself and more about the back story. The story of how God and my husband Charles somehow conspired to keep both of them in my life after Charles’s death…the story of how, along the way, scribbles transitioned from a raw, personal mess of a journal to a manuscript of sorts and then was discovered by a publisher…the story of how perfect timing presented the opportunity to make something good come out of bad. I can’t tell you how many times I still just look up at the sky and shake my head.
And so, last Thursday, as I am catching up with Belmont friends while we wait to go into the room where the luncheon and program will be held, I realize I am hearing a talented group of four Belmont students run through one of their two songs. I grabbed a friend’s arm and said, “I cannot believe what I’m hearing. Those kids are going to sing 'Give Me Jesus' before I speak today.” She gave me a kind, but clueless, look and I went on, “I did not discover this song until after Charles died, but I have claimed it since. You know I can’t sing a lick, but there is no telling how often Vince and I crank his version up in my car and belt it out together.” The flesh of my arm tingled. She said hers did too. And then I pointed
up to the heavens and said, “YOU GUYS! STOP IT!”
Well, I didn’t really mean that of course, plus, if I’ve learned one thing since all this business started, it’s that those two are not about to stop anything. But still, for the record, and on one hand, I really had carefully organized my emotions before coming into this event. Well, that got blown up. But then, there’s another hand. Why would I be surprised that, on the day of telling the “Hey, God? Yes, Charles.” back story, “in the morning when I rise, give me Jesus” would provide one more chapter.