Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012.08.08 BirthDays

It was my 74th birthday yesterday. It was also my husband’s but he’s only 71, mere child. My first birth day was in 1938, my second birth day was in 1973 when Godde woke me up to, well okay if I must say it, myself. Amazing grace!

John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace” in 1748 at age 23 in the wake of a spiritual conversion. It came to him on a storm-tossed sea when he prayed to God that the ship wouldn’t sink. It didn’t and Newton dedicated his life thereafter to God instead of to the slave trade business he was in.

(What Newton didn’t know was that God was more interested in saving the African slaves in the hold, who were also praying!)

Back in 1973 I wasn’t converted, just returned.  I’d sunk deeply into the listening presence of one I called God as a very young child under a table chatting and feeling heard and accompanied. As I grew up and began my efforts to fit myself into my lovingly dysfunctional family and a world of roles and rules I lost touch with the under-the-table God. You could say I went Stepford-robotic—functional but self-less. Where could I fit as an ambitious woman with ideas unsuitable for a woman and mother? Depressed I suppose, I baked chocolate chip cookies—too many but a delicious distraction for me and a delight to my children. I didn’t pray but God “spoke” de profundis anyway, asking, “Why are you doing this?” 

Though scared witless, I recognized the dear old accompanist I’d 30 years ago fallen into love with. So I followed God’s provocative question and, like Newton, became a priest. The rest of my life still is the answer to God’s question.

And this hymn, as Newton wrote it,  is its theme song. 


Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound) 
That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
 And grace those fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear,
 The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
 I have already come;

'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
 And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
 His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
 As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail
 And mortal life shall cease;

I shall possess, within the veil,
 A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,
 Will be forever mine.