Today’s guest post is from Ruth Wilkinson who may or may not be related.
It was hot. I was tired.
I was spending the summer working in the kitchen of my favorite camp, supervising and cooking. And when you’re doing work you believe in, with people you like, it’s easy to run to 16 hour days.
I’d finally hung up my ladle, made a cup of tea, and sought out a quiet, dark and relatively cool spot to relax before going to bed.
The porch. Concrete floor and walls. Old wooden pews against the wall. An unimpeded view of the moon on the lake. Behind me, a window, open to the ‘lounge’, which was busy with other staff playing games, chatting, making music. And me in the shadows outside, listening.
Under the window indoors there was a piano. If not for the wall, I’d have been leaning against it.
Two people came to the piano and sat down. His camp name was Rocky, one of the senior summer staff, full of character and wit.
Her camp name was Joy.
If you met her, you’d know that it could never be anything else. She’s one of those people who carry light with them into the room. A 100 watt smile, always ready. Hugs, encouragement, hope.
She was also about 80% deaf. A hearing aid in each ear. Her parents, as some do, had decided not to have her taught sign language. They wanted her to grow and live in the world of the hearing. So her interaction with the people around her was through lip reading and her own slurred, exaggerated speech.
But Rocky and Joy had decided that it was time for her to learn to play the piano. ‘Cause camp is like that. Behind me, out of sight, he sat down at the high end of the keyboard, and she at the low end. I doubted they knew I was there.
He hit a C chord and sang “Je – sus..” and showed her where the C note was. She hit it. Bom.
He played a G chord, sang “loves me…” and showed her where the G note was. Bom.
A minor. “This I….” G is one up from A. Bom.
C. “Know…” Back to the first one again. Bom.
F chord. “For the…” Which one’s F? Yeah, that’s right! Bom.
And on they went, all the way through 2 verses and 2 choruses, patient with each other.
C chord. “So….” Bom.
They laughed and high fived each other. He was called away.
I thought, “Well, that was nice. I’m glad I heard that.” Sipped my tea, looked at the moon, rested my head against the wall and thought about grace.
But she stayed at the piano. Playing notes, combinations of notes, what she thought might be chords.
I thought, “Oh, dear.”
She began to play more loudly, more confidently. Crashing and tinkling.
She started to sing. The singing of the deaf. Loud. No tone, no melody. No rhythm or any relation to what her hands were playing. Right out the window, over my head.
She sang, “Jeeeeeeee – sus! (crash) Jeeeeee – sus! (bom) I love you Jesus! (crash) I love you God! (bom) Thank you for saving meeeeee! (tinkle) OH, GOD, I LOVE YOUUUUUUUU! (crunch) YOU ARE BEAUTIFUUUUUUUL! (kabom) YOU CREATED THE UNIVERRRRRSE! (CRASH BOM)”
I thought, “God, I’m tired. I just wanted some peace and quiet. Is that so much to ask? How much longer is she going to keep making this NOISE?!”
I’m not exactly sure how to describe the next sensation I experienced. The closest I can come is when you’re a kid at the grocery store with your granny, and you say something rude to the guy behind the counter and she slaps you across the back of the head.
And in that moment, I heard that voice that you hear with every nerve and fiber of your body. Whispering.
“She’s not singing for you. And you have no idea what she sounds like from here.”
Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.