Encounters: How Great Thou Art

how great thou artBy Mark

We had no warning of my father’s death. He worked hard all day Saturday, went to church and a family gathering on Sunday, then had a heart attack Sunday night. They operated on Tuesday and he died on Wednesday, with the funeral and burial on Saturday. The grief and shock were overwhelming.

On Sunday, I thought the routine of churchgoing would do me good, so I went. The bishop very kindly acknowledged my loss during the announcements, and I managed to hold it together, for the most part, until the closing hymn. When the organist played the opening chords of How Great Thou Art, the waterworks started up with a vengeance. That was dad’s favorite hymn, and we had sung it in his remembrance less than 24 hours before.

After the closing prayer, I was still a wreck, sitting halfway back in the chapel, left side, halfway to the wall. I was sitting hunched over with my face in my hands, with tears running through my fingers and down my wrists and arms, while the ward members filtered out to Sunday School and Primary. I don’t blame them for not stopping. What do you do with a grown man who is experiencing such raw, naked emotion? Then it happened. A sister I knew only by name touched my shoulder to let me know she was there, then sat down beside me in the pew, gently resting her hand on my arm. We sat like that for, oh, ten minutes or so, until there were simply no more tears. I turned to her, mumbled a weak “Thank you,” then stood up. She put her arm around my shoulder, gave me a sisterly hug, and was gone, without saying a word. To this day, it is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

 

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For the next 4 weeks (through Friday, December 28, 2012), we’d love for you to share any encounters you’ve had.  Selected submissions will be published on Doves & Serpents.  Submissions should be sent to guest guestposts@dovesandserpents.org (please see our guest post guide).