Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wayfaring Stranger
Words: Traditional
Music: American Folk Song;arr. Horace Clarence Boyer (B.1935)

In church today there was a special worship service set to jazz/gospel music. The choir was accompanied by jazz trio, piano, organ, acoustical guitar. The first two verses of the hymn below delivered to me a full heart and an unexpected open floodgate of emotion - having to do with my personal belief in "the resurrection of the body" and belief in my parents being with God - whatever that means in God's terms.

The hymn goes like this -

I'm just a poor way-faring stranger. I'm travling through this world below;
There is no sickness, toil, nor danger, in that bright world to which I go.
I'm going there to see my father, I'm going there no more to roam;
I'm just a going over Jordan. I'm just a going over home.

I know dark clouds will gather oe'r me, I know my pathway's rough and steep;
But golden fields lie out before me, Where weary eyes no more shall weep.
I'm going there to see my mother, She said she'd meet me when I come; I'm just a going over Jordan, I'm just a going over home.

There are a couple more verses that I won't quote, but I was, while singing these two, surprised to feel so suddenly and totally the loss of my parents. My mother died nearly 4 years ago, with the time of our separation being even longer as she suffered from alzheimer's and dementia many years before her final day. My father died in a highway accident when I was in my 30's; that has been decades ago. But, in those few seconds this a.m., my personal yearning for my parents was palpable.

There is no doubt for me that the life I lead in respect to being without my parents is one of learned behavior that is necessary for survival as an adult orphan. It is all very logical and part of life to lose one's parents - but isn't it strange how we adapt? I mean we have no choice in the matter. It's done, it's over, they're gone. But the mark of their living and their dying is here on us forever, even though we choose not to dwell on it.

I had good parents; in my freshly-felt remembrance of them, I was and I am grateful for their lives and the life they gave to me. I feel a sadness for those persons with "not so good" parents, who must still carry the mark somewhere of their parents' living and dying as I do, whether they like it or not. May their "not so good" parents be forgiven and ready to greet them in God's place and time. And, if the adults with "not so good" parents become parents, may they remember the mistakes their own parents made and perhaps that will make the forgiving a bit easier. In the meantime, I thank God for my blessed parents.


  1. This is a beautiful memorial to your parents. It's strange how sometimes the loss can sneak up on you again, whether it's been four years or decades.
    I recall a phone call from a friend whose father had died. He had left her mother when she was fifteen, and she had barely seen him since. She had strong feelings of betrayal in their relationship, and she had no idea how to react to his death, how to, or if, to mourn.
    That underlined for me how very lucky I've been in my life with wonderful parents, who I miss a lot.

  2. that must have been some music yesterday! based on your response and also fr. steve's.
    i will think much more about these words you have written. thanks for sharing. xxoxoxoxo

  3. Thanks Tess and Lucy - always like to know you're reading and appreciate your comments.