Saturday, March 10, 2012

It is well with my soul

For the first time since I started working for the Park Service I am in a position where I usually have a normal work schedule of 8:30--5:00 Mon-Fri. One of the many benefits of working that sort of schedule is that I will have Sundays off and will actually be able to attend church with regularity, something I have not been able to do since I left Oroville.

One of the things that I enjoy the very most about being a part of the church services is the singing. We are attending a Baptist Church in Washington, DC which means that much of the music is made up of songs I do not know (having been raised in a Nazarene tradition). I have become much more familiar which many of these songs, but it is still always more exciting for me when a song like "how great thou art," "great is thou faithfulness" or "and can it be" shows up in the program. There are certain songs that most people know and therefore sing with more confidence. That confidence, in turn, creates a much more powerful sound. Many of the people in our congregation have significant musical talent and enough sing the other parts so that all four (SATB) can be distinctly heard. This is especially true when the piano drops out for the final verse of a song, leaving only the voices, as it often does.

It is nearly always moving when this occurs, but especially so when it is one of the aforementioned songs that most people know well and sing with greater confidence. There is one song, however, that never fails to move me in any context, and sung in this fashion, is virtually guaranteed to do so. That song is "it is well with my soul." If you don't know this song, or the story behind it, this webpage gives a pretty good account.

When you understand the story behind the song it makes it much more meaningful, and gives even greater significance to the sound of hundreds of voices simultaneously declaring, "And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul."

There is great power in communion and in sharing a declaration of faith in such a manner. There is even greater power in understanding the meaning, emotion, and sorrow which lie behind the words. They come alive in richness when you know the story.

As I prepare to once again be employed in a role in which I will be bringing stories to life I am reminded of the power of evocative imagery, as it is typified in an acapella public singing of "it is well with my soul." Our lives mean a great deal more when viewed in the context of that larger picture.

Much of this last week was spent attempting to tie up loose ends before I start working full time again. Many of those loose ends concerned changing Alison's identity, officially making her a resident of Virginia, and establishing ourselves as a married couple. We had to have vehicles inspected and reinspected, both for the State of Virginia and in order to get insurance. We attempted to get her a Virginia drivers license in her new name, but the system was down throughout the entire state so we could not get it. Everything else is done though. We have insurance on both vehicles for both of us, we have a joint bank account in her new name, and we are both registered to vote in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Our story has changed. Our identity (hers especially) has changed. Our identity as individuals has been modified into an identity as a couple.  We have become more than the sum of our individual parts. We, as individuals, have become a part of something bigger.

We do not know what the days ahead will bring, but we know that we will face them together. We know that we are a part of something bigger.

And it is well with my soul.

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