“Come back to choir with me, Mom,” my middle son said.

I looked at him. I had decided that I would do something special with each of the men in my life, this son, his younger brother, and my husband. Something that would make memories with each of them, something they wanted to do with me. I made this pact once their oldest brother went on to Heaven. Not out of remorse mind you, but more the recognition of just how precious every moment in life is and the ugly truth that you have no idea when they might end.

I really didn’t want to go back to church choir. That was a time past, when three sons were little, I had no career, and well, let’s just say it, I was more innocent about volunteer church work.

“This isn’t what you are used to. You will like Dick,” John said hopefully, describing a bit more the minister who was currently choir director for the mega Baptist church we belonged to. John too, torn in his own way with his oldest brother’s loss, was searching for bigger purpose. He may also have been trying to find a way for me to gain an outlet for my sorrow. There were more than a few nights he held me close this past few months as this unwlecome turn of events placed him in the role of comforter.
I could hardly refuse, given my promise to my own heart.

So Monday nights, in that cold winter of 2006 found me sitting in the back row of the choir room, singing. Well, not really. I cried for most of a year. Music had always been a big part of our family, since the time I started birthing those boys and trying to sing through songs with lyrics the likes of:

“ In this house we’ve built of make believe
Loved ones go long before, seems it’s time to leave
But we will learn how to grieve, to forgive and receive
‘Till we see them there in that city”

Let’s just say, if music is the emotion of the soul, mine had too big a whole to do much more than blink tears through the hymns and listen to the voices of those around me.
That and listen to Dick. I had quit choir just about the time Dick had come to our mega church. Not having been in a frame of mind to want to stay in choir those several years back, I had left. It was easy to say why, I was traveling too much and life had changed. But here I was, a different time and place and a different person and back in choir with my middle son a few rows over.

I don’t know what you think or know or care about worship, that act of religious devotion directed towards a deity, in its simplest, most purest, form to give worth to something bigger than you. There are all kinds of ways you can get to that place. My Dad worshiped when he fished. I knew this the day I heard him say he wouldn’t mind going on to Heaven while he was on the water. So there I was, in choir, on that back row, listening to Dick and finding myself worshiping.

Over the next four years, I healed. Never, in all my time in choirs, had a minister ministered, directed more than notes, to the 200+ people that gathered every Monday, like Dick. Over the next four years, Dick would be called on to continue to minister as his wife, a woman who clearly was the man’s soul mate, went on to Heaven herself, too young, too soon, and suffering. Through it all, Dick fulfilled what I expect God hoped one of His ministers would.

This last Sunday was the last Sunday Dick led my mega church choir. He did it with grace, beauty, and love. He ministered to us once more in song and devotion, worshiping that God in Heaven, who has plans for us all. I hope Dick writes a book. I hope one day I review it here on Pineknot Farm and Lab. But for now, right here on Pineknot Farm and Lab, let me tell you, he’s my Handsome Cowboy for September.