Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lyrical Lessons

Elli loves music.  She knows the lyrics to dozens of songs.  Church songs, pop songs, even original songs I've written and recorded. Once she's listened a few times, she knows all of the words.  One thing she enjoys doing is substituting her name for random lyrics.  For example, she might change, "Give, said the little stream..." to "Give, said the little Elli...."  She sometimes finds herself absolutely hilarious when she does this, and belly laughs after each substitution.  Christi and I often play along with her and throw her name in at different spots in a song we sing to her.  Usually it's just fun for Elli.  Today, it had a profound impact on me.

One of Elli's favorite songs right now is "The Bus Stop," a song I wrote before we moved to Nashville.  It tells the story of a man who comes across a homeless family at a bus stop in Denver in the winter.  He is touched by the experience and the words of the Bible come to his mind.  This is the chorus:

At the bus stop downtown my peaceful world stopped
And I thought of a lesson mama had taught
Right from the good book, time couldn't dim
When you're helping His children, you're just helping Him
And you won't have to look far, to find Him around
He could be at the bus stop downtown.

The scriptural reference is Matthew 25:40  "...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

I've sung this song probably hundreds of times.  Today, I was bathing Elli before church.  She sang her version of the last line, "He could be at the bus stop downtowm."

"Do you want me to sing The Bus Stop, Elli?"

"Yeah, OK."

So I started to sing to her.  During the first chorus, I threw her name in randomly.  Except the meaning was anything but random:

At the bus stop downtown my peaceful world stopped
And I thought of a lesson mama had taught
Right from the good book, time couldn't dim
When you're helping His Elli, you're just helping Him...

 I was struck by the truth in these lines.  First of all is the significance of the words, "His Elli."  Truly she is His.  Truly He must look down on her with special, tender affection.  And truly He must rejoice when I care for her with love and tenderness and His heart must break when I am less patient than I should be.  She is indeed His Elli.  I have a stewardship over her for the brief period of mortality, but she is His Elli.  I hope she will find my efforts acceptable someday in the eternities when she is with Him again.  When she is whole again.  For the splendor of His Elli at that time will surely be something I will want to be a part of.

Secondly, the significance of the words, "When you're helping His Elli, you're just helping Him...."  I have known the words in Matthew 25:40 as long as I can remember.  I have known that serving any and all of my children is a good thing that makes our Savior happy.  But in one of those moments of clarity where truth distills upon our spirits, I was touched this morning as I struggled with a little girl who did not want her hair washed.  When I'm helping His Elli, I'm just helping Him.  When I'm serving His Elli, I'm serving Him.  When I'm ignoring His Elli, I'm ignoring Him.  It instilled in me a greater desire to help, serve, love, look after, hold, care for and in every way be the best father I can be to Elli and to each of my wonderful, amazing, special children.  No father is more blessed than I am.  My children are incredible.  

Later today I had another lesson from Elli's love of music.  We were in sacrament meeting and Elli, as has been the case for the past several weeks, was yelling/grunting/screaming quite loudly.  I took her out into the foyer and fed her honeycomb.  She started to sing the Hillary Weeks song that Lexi and Jessica sang at Lexi's baptism.  One of the lines from this song is "When you stand with me, and I stand with you.  Elli once again modified the words.  In fact, these are the only two lines she sang: "I'll stand with mom.  I'll stand with dad."  I asked her, "Will you stand with mom and dad?"  "Yes," she replied.  Once again I was touched by this little angel.  It is extremely rare that she answers "Yes" to a question.  So it was particularly special that she answered "Yes" to this one.  One day she will stand with mom and dad.  Side by side.  No longer needing our assistance for her every need.  She will instead be a leader in His eternal kingdom.

It would be an amazing thing to see each other as God sees us.  To see the eternal potential of each of our spirits.  I would guess that most of us have had the experience of meeting someone who emanated something special and strong.  Someone that we could tell was good.  Even great.  We leave those interactions uplifted.  Edified.  More determined to do good ourselves.  It is sometimes overwhelming to be surrounded by the greatness of our children.  We have nine of these people in our home with us.  They are each truly special individuals.  Spiritual giants.  And the greatness of their spirits is somehow intensified by frailty of their physical bodies. 

I learn new lessons every day.  I feel as though I am in the circumstance described in Malachi 3:10 "...and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."  My quiver is full.  I am a blessed man.