On summer Sundays in the small country church where I worshiped as a 12-year-old girl, someone would open the windows before the service. Without air conditioning, we welcomed any available breeze and plucked vintage fans from behind the pews—fans made of stiff cardboard that unfolded to reveal da Vinci’s Last Supper on one side and an ad for a funeral parlor on the other.
The church shared a fence with Mr. Bowman’s field, where he grew corn, soybeans, and hay. One summer in particular I remember gazing through those windows at the hay field, its grasses growing higher and higher from week to week.
In the stifling summer heat, we juggled worn fans and frayed hymnals that flopped open to this congregation’s favorites: “Trust and Obey,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “It Is Well with My Soul,” “Wonderful Words of Life,” and “Blessed Assurance.”
During these songs, I sensed a surge of something flow through the congregation—it may have been as simple as familiarity that inspired robust participation, or as profound as a movement of God’s presence in our midst. Whatever it was, I loved hearing the volume rise at the chorus as farmers belted out truths of the Savior and their wives reached for those high notes with joy.
I stood in the midst of the music, searching for a note that my low voice could handle, longing to harmonize with this family of faith.
Sometimes I dropped out and simply listened, staring at the bucolic scene framed for me by the tall church windows. Wind swept over the hay field that undulated and shimmered in the Sabbath’s morning sun. The uncluttered view offered visual space for me to think, to pray, and the hymns served as a soundtrack to my silent questions, their lyrics sinking deep into my soul.
Mr. Bowman cut the hay one summer day, leaving it in the field to dry before baling. On a Sunday, that smell drifted through the open windows, earthy sweetness filling the sanctuary.
At some point that summer, whether on that summer-sweet day or a week later when the hay was baled, I tasted the sweetness of eternity. Like the breeze that slipped through those windows to be stirred by fans and praise, the Holy Spirit entered in. In that church, I found Christ Jesus; or, I should say, He found me.
And that was the start of my song.
(Many thanks to my church for including “Blessed Assurance” in the worship music this past Sunday, one of many hymns that I associate with my spiritual roots.)
I’m humbly linking this with the following communities: