Today, Listen for Angel Songs Around You…

scan0015Dear Friend,

I pray this new Advent season sees you and yours blessed with a fresh awareness of God’s joy upon your heart, blurring out any hard times of the year – the way a pretty snowfall gently erases the landscape till smudging it to wonderland pearl   and setting pathlights of anticipation in twinkling  glow before you. 

As for me, I’m SO ready for savoring the candlelight in windows and on trees, basking in the silvery glow of White Christmas and Chestnuts Roasting! For 2015 cycloned through my household much as all Disneyland fans might term “Toads Wild Ride.”  You know… you get on a seat unsuspecting and suddenly find yourself thrown here, there, up, down, flying through the darkness till you nearly lose direction… 

I won’t go in to all the dark and sorrowful moments, for this is meant to be a letter of cheer and hope.  But to summarize, the call came in the first days of February, whisking me across the country to my dad and sister – where dad had just been admitted to the hospital.  Thinking it might simply be a few weeks and then he’d be home, I never envisioned what would turn into a thunder-rolling three full months continuous hospital stay with a few side excursions to rehab and as many months in home care…

Just to set the scene for miracles, I want to briefly picture for you one of the loneliest, bleakest most hope-wringing spots in this year — the hellish sights and sounds of the rehab.  I don’t care how nice a place like that can seem on the outside, it is a living nightmare for all who are squeezed two, three in a cheerless room there.  Like finding yourself still sane, but somehow locked into Jane Eyre’s attic with the mysterious, unseen, raging Grace Poole as your cell mate. 

Night and day, nearly unintelligible, wrenching wailing winds itself down the halls from who knows where, beseeching God and anyone listening for help.   Once, a poor. unsupervised elderly woman who spoke no English suddenly appeared in Dad’s doorway, clutching a body-sized rag doll with long spindly legs.  Tears running down her face,  she obviously felt the terror of a little child who is lost and unable to find her parents or her way back home.  In my limited Spanish from high school days, I managed to decipher her predicament, but couldn’t find words enough to console her.  “Donde dorme?”  (Where do you sleep?), I tried.  Her eyes lit up as she streamed words I didn’t fully know.

My sister ran to get a nurse and soon she was being led back to a completely different wing… but the next day, there she was, wandering down hallways she didn’t really know…

Throughout the day, though mostly at night, many patients line the hallways so thickly in their wheelchairs, it is difficult to pass through.  Blank stares on faces… others crying softly.  One, appearing to consider herself all dolled up in her pink and green crocheted hat, slips her medical gown up over knobby knees and smiles invitingly as guests walk by.  Another holding tightly to her toddler-sized baby doll, converses nonsense and laughs cheerily to it. Picks up it’s tiny hand and waves it to passersby.

The noise of blaring TV’s (as many as three to a room, all blasting at the same time on different stations) –  it barely stops for a breath.  At certain times, rockin’ music screams through overhead speakers up and down halls… Y. M. C. A.!!!!!… making guests rush to the door to try and shut it out somewhat.  But – what of those poor souls stuck in their beds with no visitors, no one to get up and close out the high decibels if they want to?  

“O, Lord,” I remember sighing deeply one early evening of our usual wearisome 12-hour day bedside Dad – “Can’t we get a little peace!  Breathe Your hope in here!”   My sister had gone home to prepare Dad’s dinner (the food in that place was not only indigestible and sometimes undecipherable as to it’s content, but always riddled with salt, fat, and everything that kept his poor roommate completely bound up).   Dad appeared to be sleeping, but mostly I think he was just shutting his eyes to misery round him.

Just then, an untypical quiet fell over the hallways.  Lights seemed dimming for the evening.  The only sound was a soft murmur of nurses at the other end of the wing.  The sudden calm of it felt like a blanket, soft and warm from the dryer, falling over us from Heaven’s hands.

From my hard card table type metal chair, I watched then as the Asian patient across the hall wheeled himself out for a breather, where he sat quietly for a moment, pausing in the break.   When, suddenly, he opened his mouth to pour out the most beautiful, tender, heartmelting song. 

I couldn’t understand his words, sung in his own language.  I did not recognize this incredibly gorgeous melody.  But oh!  I understood his heart of worship.  It was as if he were sitting alone out on a veranda somewhere, night breezes gently lifting his hair, stars turning his heart upward.

I just knew it was so… felt the Holy Spirit pouring Himself up and down the hallway with such wondrous light, in and over my dad, over his poor, most often disgruntled, grumbling 90-something roommate.. and over me.    I never wanted it to stop.

My dad opened his eyes, looked towards the door, wonderingly.  I nodded to him as we both just soaked in this voice, this song of glory.   I thought I’d seen the man watching a praise type program earlier, but it too had been in his language, so I hadn’t been sure.  But there was just no mistaking his heart here and now.  On and on he sang, gently, lovingly, gifting the night as with Morningstar song.

Yes, like the star over Bethlehem, over that unsavory, probably somewhat dank, stable cave,  the spirit of Christmas lit a moment there in that forsaken-feeling rehab in the middle of February – a moment of angel song I will never forget.   The way it seeped weariness from my tired bones, discouraged heart.  The way the man seemed oblivious to all but the One he suddenly felt like singing to… and so he just DID…

Thinking of Advent… I wanted to share this remembrance with you today, to encourage you in all the dark and sorrowing and hurtful places of where you might be right now… or have been this year —

Look for the wonder and Glory to appear! 

Listen for the fife and the drum announcing Christ’s birth!  

And may our hearts be ever ready to pour out to Him, that He may use the gifts He has put in us each as worship that will shine forth to others in need of His quieting love, his songs of rejoicing, his promise to be with us always.  Christmas on parade every day…

Hold “merry” close as you listen for His heart in this day, just for you!

xo, Pam 


Angels Singing Tenor | UnBlogmysoul

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About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

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16 Responses to Today, Listen for Angel Songs Around You…

  1. “The spirit of Christmas lit a moment there in that forsaken-feeling rehab in the middle of February – a moment of angel song I will never forget. ”

    Yes! We can find the spirit of Christmas all year long because Christ is always among us now. Thanks for sharing this, Pam.

  2. Darcy Jo says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. Loved that hope showed up in the middle of the dark places – as it so often does. All year long.

  3. lynndmorrissey says:

    Pam, I know you went through such a difficult year, and especially with the passing of your beloved father. I’m so very sorry. And I know that the hurt is still there, yet permeated with joy because he is with the Lord. That’s how I feel about Daddy, too, but oh my. This was a really difficult post to read, because it brought back the horrors of some of the places he had to endure. And like your dad, he had a family who loved him and who was not abandoning him. Still, sometimes, because we don’t have the medical means or personal skills to care for a really sick patient, we must acquiesce and permit them to go to such places. It is agonizing mostly for the patient, but also for those who love them. You have used your gift of description to paint a picture of the ghastliness of those places, and all that horror came flooding back for me. Also, about a year ago, a friend and I finally found a mutual friend just our age, who had end-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The horror she was experiencing was unbearable (and I don’t even know if she was aware of it). It was so incredibly sad, and we felt so helpless to do a thing for her. But just as you were buoyed by music, Debbie and I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to Barb, and I swear, just for a split second, we saw her hollow eyes spring to life with the assurance that He was with her and did indeed love her. Daddy used to sing the Spiritual, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” when he lay alone (or so he thought) in his hospital room. I stood in the hallway and listened. And the rest of that song goes, “Nobody Knows but Jesus.” The fact that He knows and cares, even in our most desperate days really is what Christmas is all about. He cares so much that He came to be born in the muck of our days and to bring meaning, joy, and peace. Thank you for a hard, but very meaningful read. Beautifully done.


    • Sorry it was such a hard read – I wanted to give just enough of the picture so that the wonder of that song would shine out all the more. But rehabs really are such hellish places where so many are suffering. I’m so sorry for your dear friend too. I really do believe your song broke through! And God blessed her greatly through you! I have seen myself how music reaches realms of the spirit that nothing else does in people with dementia. That song your dad sang is so beautiful. Melancholy but beautiful. Thanks for sharing all that, Lynn!

      • lynndmorrissey says:

        Oh no… no need to apologize whatever Pam. This will affect different people in different ways, and most definitely, your trademark hope always shines through. And frankly, we need good writers to bring attention to these kinds of places! It will make us grateful for what we have and hopefully give us empathy to visit those who can’t leave. No…this is a much-needed post. And yes…the ministry of music is so far-reaching and soul-stirring.

      • I appreciate and understand your compassionate heart on all you shared, Lynn. 🙂 And how you know because of your own loss of your dad… I do try to stay away from the dark mostly, but you are right that it is needed too.. Thank you!

  4. Amazing post and such incredibly beautiful writing that very poignantly conveyed the very dark depths of that time and the sweetness of His presence such a mercy and a reprieve to you. Thank you so much for sharing. “Look for the wonder and Glory to appear!” Such beautiful and timely encouragement to me today. Your neighbour at Tell His Story this week.

  5. Oh thank you for sharing this. It has touched me in a special way on this hard day. Bless you!

  6. lynndmorrissey says:

    Thank you for those words, Pam. I had meant to ask: Is the angel painting yours too?

  7. pam, i loved reading your story. i worked in an acute rehab hospital so the ages of our patients were a little more varied and it wasn’t as much like a nursing home…or as chronic.

    but the beauty of music was always amazing! your description of the agony…whether mental or physical, at night when the confused patients often become more loud and more confused, is very real and true. even there, being able to deal with them in a quiet, unrushed way often makes a huge difference…but the staffing is rarely high enough to be able to.

    thanks for such a lovely, yet honest peek into the a place that many don’t want to go, even for a visit. your family was a gift to your father in his final days in ways you may not even be aware of. no one can take that away from you. you will forever be changed for the good, by the gift you gave in the middle of incredible pain and loss.

    blessings as you face a new year and grieve your dad’s loss. may the GOD of peace be with you.

    • Thank you so much for those kind and encouraging words, Martha. It IS amazing how music brings healing into the darkest places… You are right, there are just not enough high staff in places like these . I’m sure you must have made a real difference in your job. Blessings to you too and His Peace to us all! Thanks for taking time to share here!

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