“And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings, Bear you on the breath of dawn, Make you to shine like the sun, And hold you in the palm of His Hand.”—Michael Joncas
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.” –Philippians 4:4
“Spread your wings guys, it’s time for us to fly.”—Madelyn Clarice Hill from her salutatorian address
What a weekend it has been for many Tri-State families! Graduations galore! Personally speaking, between my husband, John, and me, we have attended four graduations and one baccalaureate service in the span of five days! Plus, we were able to be co-hosts to one grand graduation party for our daughter, Madelyn, and her cousin, John Davis—who in my mind will forever be Johnny! It has indeed been a whirlwind time period filled with activities, families, friends, and loved ones. We are indeed feeling blessed beyond measure.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about my Dad, Larry Musick, randomly sending me a text that simply stated, “Philippians 4:8.” It was a gentle reminder to focus less on my busy calendar, and instead think about the lovely and praiseworthy events creating such a calendar. Little did I know, that in the span of two days this past week, I would encounter this verse, not once, but twice more!
Philippians 4:4-9 was the scripture reading at both Maddie’s baccalaureate service and graduation! And, why not? It is a passage of both joy and peace—two feelings that should be attached to the celebration of the journey from one life stage to the next! “Have no anxiety at all . . .the God of peace will be with you.” When I shared this coincidence with my Dad, he replied, “God speaks to us in many ways. Sometimes when it is important, He repeats Himself.” I think he had a valid point.
The irony was not only the repeated Bible verse, but also a song sang at the baccalaureate service entitled, “On Eagle’s Wings,” based upon Psalm 91 and Isaiah 40:31. It is one of my favorite songs; one I often associate with my grandmother, Helen.
Helen was an ardent reader of the Bible; and, during her final earthly days, I would read Bible verses to her, especially Isaiah 40:28-31. I often read this passage to her because when I lived with her during my early twenties, she took great comfort in those verses when she was going through, what she referred to as, “a rough spell.” Thus, in those precious hours, as her soul vacillated between heaven and earth, I had hoped those same verses would ease her pain and suffering when the morphine began to wear off, and it wasn’t quite time for her next dose.
When alive, Helen was a tough-as-nails lady, who worked hard to do the right thing her entire life. I was not, per se, her favorite grandchild; however, because I was the only one to live with her for over two years, I became especially close to her. Even after I married, and left her home, I would still visit her every Friday evening immediately after school.
I learned many significant lessons from Helen, both directly and indirectly. Some of the most important lessons include: love your family; read the Bible; pray daily; get an education; and, always put forth your best effort in all endeavors. Helen did not have the most engaging personality, like her husband, my Papaw Check, but she seemed most happy when she was around friends and family who made her smile and laugh. Her life was one of service, faith, and family. I miss her greatly.
Yet, like many loved ones who pass, I often feel her presence with me. Perhaps, it is my overactive imagination, but sometimes I can almost hear her whisper to me; and, even, at times, I can sense her laughter in moments of joy. And, that is what I felt throughout the five days of celebration!
Helen was there to remind me that God would hold both Maddie and Johnny in His hands as they spread their wings and begin to fly a bit farther from the nest. Certainly, she would have agreed with Dad that God was indeed to speaking to me through song and verse. I believe she also wanted me to know that I needed to dry my tears, rejoice in the educational accomplishments of Johnny and Maddie, and focus, instead, on the time at hand with them. Further, I can only imagine the pride that must have beamed from her heavenly face as my siblings, parents, stepparents, nieces, nephews, other family members, and friends came together to celebrate this momentous occasion.
And so, as this weekend of celebration winds to an end, life will resume, but with a new normal taking flight–a new normal that includes teens transitioning to young adults as they prepare for new skies in which to dip, dart, and glide. Young adults that, despite the distance that will separate them, will remain connected to one another as well as to the rest of their family and friends. In fact, when we gather again next Memorial Day weekend, the flock may include new friends, and perhaps more, or less, family members. One thing is for certain though, next year will not look like this year, but that is as it should be–for time and life are fluid—ever moving, ever flowing, ever changing—like the sky itself. Regardless of the changes in life, I can take assurance in the fact that our maturing children, and the rest of our loved ones for that matter, will be held in the palm of His hand.