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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Signs

I'm the last person to look for signs from the heavens.  I'm introspective enough to see connections and messages, but if they jar a thought or inspire action, I don't necessarily think of it as a sign from god, so much as a dawning realization of my own.  I think the interpretation of "signs" is extremely subjective, and an impartial observer might interpret as coincidence what another considers the Voice of God.


Maybe that's putting too fine a point on it.  Perhaps a more spiritual person would say, "Yes, Jim, that's EXACTLY what a sign from God is.  You just have to be open enough to receive it."  Regardless, I want to relay this very brief story to you and allow you to interpret it as you wish.


You don't need to go all the way back to the beginning to understand the genesis of the story.  If you wish to, however, it is >>HERE<<.


Emma auditioned for a talent show.  She sang "Defying Gravity".  She sang it alone in front of teachers and classmates, and my wife and I snuck in to listen, and it was good.


You don't need to understand that she didn't make it.  But she didn't.  That was >>HERE<<.


We were so proud of her for trying; so proud of her for how she handled her disappointment. (pretty proud of myself of properly using a semicolon)


You don't need to even know that Emma learned she was NEXT on the list of students to be included in the talent show, and that if any of them were unable to participate SHE would be included.  Nor do you need to be aware that within days of learning that, ductwork fell on a group of students in her class while they ate lunch in the cafeteria and I tongue-in-cheek implied that the Lord might be clearing the way for her subsequent participation.  >>HERE<<.


What happened Saturday was different.


My wife took Emma and a friend to Saturday Mass.  The kids both had dance practice the following day, so they figured if they went Saturday night they could clear their schedules a little and focus on dancing and a play date later that afternoon.


They had already endured enjoyed most of the service, standing, sitting, kneeling, singing and praying in accordance with the Catholic service's arcane ceremony du jour.  There is a segment in the service that goes like this:
Priest: The Peace of the Lord be with you always.
All: And also with you.
Priest: Let us offer each other a sign of peace.
At this point in the service my wife and daughter exchanged a kiss and said, "peace be with you" and my daughter and her friend exchanged hugs and said, "peace be with you."


And then a man behind Emma put his hands on her shoulder and said this to her, "Don't ever give up on your singing.  You have a gift."


My wife hadn't really even noticed Emma singing.  The man was a stranger to her.  The Catholic church we attend has membership in the thousands.  At first she thought perhaps this man had been a judge for the talent show, a member of the faculty who had heard her sing at school.  He wasn't.  Emma had never seen him before.


"Don't ever give up on your singing," the stranger told her in church that day, "you have a gift."


I don't believe in signs. . . but. . . come ON!

40 comments:

  1. Oh, wow! This totally made me tear up. Yeah, I think it's pretty hard to chalk that one up to mere coincidence. What a beautiful story!

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    1. I know. . . my skepticism is under SEIGE!

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  2. How sweet of him to take the time and make the effort to say that to her. Now we just need one kid to get tonsillitis!

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    1. The talent show is already over. This was just a nice reenforcer toward the idea that she shouldn't give up despite a little bump in the road.

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  3. As usual, beautifully said. If I were you, I would've choked up. But again you're heartless. No worries, I cried for you.

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  4. Wow. What a nice thing for him to say - and oh so timely! Jeez. Perhaps I should rethink my current religious boycott...thought about it and I'm still really pissed off at whatever is out there.

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    1. There's still plenty to be pissed about. . . but that was nice.

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  5. Aw, the talent show is OVER? Boo, I didn't know that. She should not give up on the singing. For sure. Just the fact that she's willing to get up in front of everyone and do it - and she's GOOD - she needs to keep at it. I want to see her onstage someday and say, "Hey! I know her dad from the internet!" :)

    (And even though my heart is cold and bitter like the Grinch, I totally believe in signs. Possibly because I am a goon. But I love stuff like this. Just love it.)

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  6. You know I don't believe in signs, either . . . but that was nice :) In fact, I think it's even nicer if it's not supernatural in origin--it speaks to pure human kindness and . . . hmm, how to say it--appreciation of art and beauty? things that never fail to blow me away.

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    1. Yeah, regardless of interpretation. . . it's good.

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  7. What a beautiful story. Really uplifting, thank you!

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  8. I totally love the story and completely believe that it was a sign and that she should not give up. I am currently writing a book about this same topic. So glad I read this!

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  9. UG! I tried posting twice from the Ipad and it didn't work. Made me get off the couch, you did. And made me get all teary. Two strikes, Jim. Two strikes.

    I love this story. I love people like this. So much. Our first day at our new church building after we moved to Arlington I was sort of a mess. I was tired. Casey doesn't do well with change. Old people can be super funny towards kids with special needs. As I was walking into a meeting room, an old African American guy slowly wheeled past me. He didn't have a whole lot of teeth and was very hard to understand. Abby was asleep in my arms. He grabbed my skirt as I passed. "That babys got the Downs!" I leaned down and showed her to him and said, "Yes she does have Down syndrome"...then I waited for it. I'm always a little afraid of what scary story an old person will tell me about institutionalizations, etc. He simply said, "That baby is a GIFT. Don't let know one tell you otherwise. A gift. 100%"

    Angels are at church. ANY church. Emma met one yesterday. That picture of her is absolutely stunning.

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    1. what's up with your ipad? I only take credit for one strike. The iPad should have the other one.

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  10. Wow...yes, that was a sign. I hope she keeps on singing her little heart out!

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  11. I love that he told her...instead of the nearest adult. She got that praise first hand! That photo is beautiful!

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    1. I know, the girls were all aflutter. Thanks!

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  12. I wish more strangers would say things like that to kids. It's hard for them to see for themselves, and something coming from an outsider is always better than coming from parents.
    We should always make a point to tell kids about their good qualities.
    Hope she never stops singing.

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    1. she still values her parents' good opinion, but she's starting to be skeptical of whether it's just cause we love her or it's genuine.

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  13. What I love is that he didn't just say "You sing nicely" but "Don't give up on your singing" - it was encouragement, not just a compliment (makes mental note to do that more often) - totally a sign.

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  14. Love this story. I am also a skeptic but wish I had more faith. However it's things like this that remind you that it doesn't really matter where it came from but what it does to the person who gets the message that counts. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I wish I did too. I just don't know how to "think my way into faith". They're not really compatible.

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  15. She must have really wowed him with her rendition of Amazing Grace.

    What a nice compliment. I'll bet it made her day. And yours.

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    1. they don't sing amazing grace in our church. It's all catholicy.

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  16. I love when there is a random act of kindness. How lovely and nice of that gentleman. And for Emma too.

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  17. Good Gaw.

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  18. Sign, schmien - that's just plain talent! She's good, right? So why the surprise? ;)

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  19. OK - as the resident preacher's wife, you know I HAVE to say this.... the timing of that comment was just too perfect to be mere coincidence. Even though Emma handled the talent show audition and results like a total pro, hearing a little extra encouragement right now certainly couldn't hurt. And maybe, just maybe, Mr. Jim, this is a good reason to go to church, no? Hey, I know people that come to church for lesser reasons than getting compliments.... :)

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  20. Awwww. I think this speaks much more to just how awesome Emma's talent is. I don't think it's strange at all that more than one person would appreciate her voice, or be nice enough to say so out loud. I also think that Emma's recent involvement in the auditions and all that's happened afterward gave her singing in church a little extra "oomph". Pair that with the fact that church music (at least at most of the churches I've been at and cantored for) is very inspirational, whether you're a child, adult, believer, or non-believer.

    Having said all that, I'm not interested in proving that it's NOT a sign. I'm agnostic for a reason. ;-)

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  21. I have just come across your bkog Via Autism Daddy, what a truly amazing day that was. Just wanted to say, your daughter is Beautiful x (mum of 5 girls and proud autis. Auntie)

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  22. I have just come across your bkog Via Autism Daddy, what a truly amazing day that was. Just wanted to say, your daughter is Beautiful x (mum of 5 girls and proud autis. Auntie)

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