the Doxology & why it’s my favorite hymn

ImageI went to a Kierkegaard seminar on Saturday night with the Cranes Scholars, and during Vespers, we sang the Doxology.  I would say it’s probably my favorite hymn.  I think I love it so much because it brings back a lot of sweet memories from my childhood.  My family sang the Doxology every Thanksgiving, and we sang it loudly, in public, in backyards, and in living rooms.  We sang it in harmony (occasionally) and off key (on my part) and we sang it in a jumble of voices of people brought together from states, countries, and even continents away to be with family and be grateful.  There is my grandfather the card shark and sleepovers with cousins and morning coffee with my aunts and life lived in the words to the Doxology.  It is a constant reminder to praise God from whom all blessings flow, because my family is such a big blessing to me.The Doxology also is mentioned (once) in one of my favorite children’s books, the Secret Garden.  I don’t know if this even strikes a chord within y’all, because I don’t know if you read this book over a hundred times and listened to the audio book, or the Focus on the Family theater-on-CD version during every single car ride on your cool portable CD player with the chunky headphones (before Beats were cool) like I did.  Anyway.  Mary, Collin, and Dickon sing it in the garden together.  It’s before Collin has had his masterful transformation and Mary is just starting to become less pasty and irritable and Dickon is teaching them his lifestyle of birds and trees and God and peace despite poverty.

I always thought I was Dickon in the story of my life.  I wished I was the sweet teacher, helping Mary and Collin see beauty in God’s creation, guiding them to rebuild their lives with a foundation in strength and hard work and love.  As I grow older, I realize I am more like Mary and Collin.  Mary is a lonely, irritable and selfish kid who doesn’t spend enough time outside or being grateful.  Collin is a spoiled, angry heir to a fortune who spends more time feeling sorry for himself than he does actually living life.  I used to think both of them were terrible and un-relatable (to a perfect kid like me, you know) until they started hanging out with Dickon, but slowly, I am realizing we are all Marys and Collins.  We are all lonely and selfish and and angry and we all fall into pits of discouragement and wallow there for too long.  We all look for Jesus, who Dickon reminds me a lot of- since he’s loving and kind and cares for all the creatures here below.

There is a beauty in realizing that Jesus wants to teach us how to get out of those pits of discouragement.  He wants to lead us from the dark shadows of anger and doubt and fear into the light of a garden that is blooming with life and growth and newness.  There is this comfort in the fact that Christ loves us so dearly, despite our selfishness and spoiled natures, despite our shortcomings and our low points, and he wants us in His garden.  He wants to share with us this secret of life and He wants us to see Him as someone from whom blessings eternally flow.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  The line resonates with me and provokes me to live my life like I know what that means.  It plucks memories from my tangled thoughts of Thanksgivings and laughter and cards and kitchen tables and cousins.  It reminds me of audiobooks listened to on roadtrips and Jesus and thankfulness.  It reminds me of Mary and Dickon and Collin.  It reminds me that I am a child, and will always learn and make mistakes and fall and run and love like a child, until I mature fully into the woman Christ has made me to become.

Praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Him above ye, heavenly hosts.  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

PS: HAPPY BIRTH MONTH, Y’ALL!  I turn twenty in eight days!

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