I am having trouble singing in church.
It happens sometimes. I take a deep breath, and my expanding diaphragm rubs up against the forgotten ball of grief buried deep inside my gut. My coward of a diaphragm recoils from the touch, shuddering all music-making air out of my lungs.
I open my mouth to sing anyway – I will not give up this hymn so easily! – but my traitorous throat holds my larynx in a vice grip.
Even my eyes betray me. I can no longer see the words on the page for the two waterfalls spilling onto my cheeks.
But, no matter. I may be mute and blind in my grief, but I am not forsaken in the pew. The Word still prevails through the mouths of my song-preaching neighbors. Freida and Margaret sit behind me, Teresa sits before, and Blake and Jenny sit at my side. Their voices sing loud and clear for my benefit:
A Mighty fortress is our God,
With might of ours can naught be done,
Though devils all the world should fill,
The Word they still shall let remain
Thank you, Church, for faithfully singing the Word to me when I am struck silent by my grief. "The Word they still shall let remain," indeed, "the Kingdom ours remaineth." Even my double-crossing flesh cannot hold back a hearty, "Amen!"
* "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" by Martin Luther (Lutheran Service Book 656)