The first thing that struck me this morning (3/3/15), when I walked out the front door and down the driveway to get the paper, was the large number of birds that were doing some serious singing. Now it was forty something degrees, cold and a bit raw, but the birds were really going after it, noticeably so more than any day in recent memory. It made me wonder why today with old man winter still refusing to release his cold and craggy grip. Why?
There could be any number of reasons, I suppose. My first thought was that this is the time of year, early March, when these particular groups of birds arrive for their next stay.
It is now six and a half hours later. I just walked out again to stand on the porch and take a few deep breaths of cool fresh winter air. The birds are still going at it. Whatever the reason, it does my heart good.
Now, that takes me back to when I was a very, very young boy growing up down in Camden, Alabama. When my mama was felled with a stroke back in late December of 2002, I felt compelled to call Mamie Blackmon. Mamie did a great deal of my raising. Mama and daddy both worked and Mamie was the person who kept me the most. She was like a mother to me. I loved her dearly.
So, I called Mamie and we went through requisite pleasantries. Then somewhere, in the middle of our conversation Mamie asked me a question, she queried, “Tweetie (my nickname given me at birth by my brother Jerry), do you still sing? You used to LOVE to sing!” I told her that I, indeed, had retained my love for singing. There is ALWAYS a song running through my head as I’m sure is the case with many of you.
I love singing. I sing as I walk around the house. I sing in the shower. I sing with the radio or the music I have cranking from any source at most any time. The singing is often accompanied by prancing, posturing or air guitar. I have always fancied myself as fronting a rock band, one night my freshman year in Auburn I did, but I’m so glad my life did not go in that direction. I don’t have that kind of talent and God only knows what would have become of me if that had been the case.
You’ve heard it said that the Lord looks out for fools and drunks and I dabbled heavily in both areas back then. Back THEN? Nahhhhhhhh…I won’t go there…
Back to the singing. My daddy was a talented vocalist. He was part of a quartet that had a program on the radio when he was a student at Auburn. When he and mama moved to Camden, back in 1948, he was known to do some solo singing around town in the various churches. He sang in the choir at the Camden Baptist Church for many, many years. Cigarette smoking took a toll on his voice, over the years, but he could still harmonize well in a lower register.
I loved singing in Sunday School when I was very young. Songs like “Do Lord”, “Deep and Wide” and “Jesus Loves Me” were my favorites. I also sang these songs around our house a great deal. One day daddy was leading the music at church, and he invited me up front to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” Once I, very shyly, made my way to the front of the sanctuary I froze. I could not sing a lick in front of all those people. And I was mostly ashamed because I thought I had embarrassed my father in front of the congregation.
When I grew up I, hopefully, erased the perception I had that I embarrassed my father in our church. It was at the Camden Baptist Church that I was ordained to the ministry. This event took place on July of 1980. Toward the end of the service all of the ordained deacons in the church were called forward to ‘lay hands’ on the ministerial candidate.
I was on my knees in front of the congregation, some of whom were present the day that I lost my nerve to sing. The deacons came forward, one by one, placed their hands on me and said a blessing of their own choosing. I didn’t look up at any of these men but I saw their shoes. Shortly into the ceremony I noticed a pair of black, wing-tip shoes moving toward me. I recognized them as daddy’s.
When he reached me he placed his hands on my head and, initially, he couldn’t speak. I waited for what seemed like a lifetime as I watched his tears pattering on those shoes. He eventually managed to utter one word, “Bud.”
This is for you daddy.
Y’all sing along with me.
“Jesus loves me this I know,
For the bible tells me so;
little ones to him belong;
They are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes! Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.”