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Deep Inside

Fall is fast approaching.  I, for one, can’t wait for crisp, cuddle-up mornings, sunsets way before bedtime, and warm treats baked with pumpkin.  In fact–let’s really push things along here–I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving.

The very word “Thanksgiving” is magical to me, conjuring up some of my most treasured memories.  At its mention, I see Grandmother’s smile and feel the approval in her steady gaze.  I hear Aunt Trevelyn’s deep laugh and relax in the comfort of her easy presence.  A crazy quilt of very specific aromas blankets the room, turkey, my mother’s dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, cranberry salad, pumpkin pie, celery bread, Grandmother’s chocolate pie… and suddenly, I am with my family again.  All of them.  The house is crawling with cousins, Grandmother and Aunt Trevelyn are still alive, and I am warm, inside and out.


Thanksgiving feels very different for me now than it did back then.  Even though I know things can’t stay the same forever, the transition was difficult, not because our new Thanksgiving is inferior in any way, but because I left a piece of my heart at Grandmother’s house.

When Todd and I got married, we started spending Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine.  I was truly excited about the switch and making new memories with his family.  It was fun.  We talked and laughed and took pictures, and my mother-in-law introduced me to some new things, appetizers, dips, spreads, sliced cranberry sauce, spiral ham, and cherry pie with ice cream.  It was all new, a big adventure.

Still, somewhere deep inside, something ached.

That afternoon, I snuck back to the master bedroom and called my family to wish them a happy Thanksgiving.  Though they tried to be brave, I heard emotion in my parents’ and sister’s voices, and I knew that the holiday had changed for them, too.  In the background, cousins talked over one another and Aunt Trevelyn laughed.

Fighting tears, I licked my lips and noticed that, against the background of those particular sounds, my mouth didn’t taste quite right.  Suddenly, I craved my mother’s dressing and a slice of her pumpkin pie.  More than that, I craved the sense of “rightness” that came with eating those particular things on Thanksgiving.

A few tearful moments later, I joined my smiling husband in the kitchen, hoping my nose wasn’t pink and puffy.  If it was, he didn’t seem to notice.  His mother was cutting the cherry pie, you see, and he was clearly excited about it, as excited as I would have been about my mother’s pumpkin pie.  Seeing the joy on his face, I put personal preference aside and ate cherry.  It was good, but cherry is not pumpkin.

I feel like that on Sunday morning sometimes.

I’m a hymn girl.  That’s the way that I grew up.  When we sing “Amazing Grace,” “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” and others, I feel connected to the Body, and everything seems “right.” I see my grandmother and mother in their choir lofts and hear my daddy’s booming tenor just above my head.  I see my little girl hands holding the hymnal out and remember struggling to read the alto line, my little sister beside me on our pew.  I worshipped purely then, trusted freely, surrendered wholly, and sang joyfully.  Sweet, sweet memories.

I know things can’t stay the same forever, but the transition to modern worship music was difficult for me.  Todd, on the other hand, had no trouble with it.  Though he enjoys the hymns, he doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to them that I do.  He can worship easily to just about any music, rap included, eyes closed, hands raised high.  Honestly, it thrills my heart to watch him and my other brothers and sisters in Christ lose themselves so completely.

I just wish I could join them more often.  It does happen.  Once in a while, we sing familiar music that God has used to minister to my heart in a difficult time, or the truth of a lyric pricks my heart and stings my eyes.  In those moments, my worship moves beyond the “sacrifice of praise” that it often is, and I am caught up.

I know that worship is a choice.  I know that one song is as valid as the next if sung with a humble and genuflected spirit.  Still, nothing moves my heart to worship like a hymn played the way I first learned it.

I know that some people scoff at this idea, and I can’t help but wonder how they will feel one day when the pendulum swings again and the songs they love are abandoned completely for new ones, or worse, changed and changed again for the sake of changing only.  I wonder if their hearts will ache like mine.

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