Sunday, December 14, 2008

Benjamin's Song, Funny Bulletins and Nativity Sets

Today at church Barry and I sat at opposite ends of the pew, as usual, like bookends, keeping the children sitting up straight with their pages all facing in the right direction, so to speak. (Last week we sat side by side for the first time in I don't know how long. I loved it. Today we were back to normal.) We sang "It Is Well With My Soul," which I always think of as Benjamin's song. Benjamin was my nephew, my brother's eldest child. We received a phone call one awful day in his mother's pregnancy with him, telling us that Benjamin had died in utero. An hour or so after that we had to go to our church small group study and we sang "It Is Well With My Soul." Ever since then, it's been Benjamin's song to me. After a couple of years, I got to the point where I could sing it without breaking down, but then this morning for some reason it all just came rushing back again and I went all teary over it and couldn't sing. And I was a wreck for the rest of the service. Every song made me cry, all the prayers made me cry, singing the Doxology made me cry... Oh brother. Funny how that can happen.

The one thing that did not make me cry was this hilarious picture on the cover of the bulletin. It's from Augsburg Fortress Press, and the note says it is a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (16th century). Look at some of those faces in the crowd! Methinks Bruegel was a frustrated caricature artist. Look at the group down here in the left bottom corner. "Be nice to Bruegel, and if he ever offers to put you in one of his paintings, say thank you, but no."

And then we came home for lunch, and finally put up the Nativity set and got out Christmas decorations. We were really slackers this year. We usually put them up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Part of it is that after living in no-kitchen chaos for months, I don't want anything extra, don't want to see messes, don't want to have to hunt for anything that's been put in a slightly different place from usual, and so I am less than thrilled with the idea of getting out decorations, which amount in my mind to "just more stuff." But I stifled the humbug that is me and we hauled the boxes up from the storeroom.

First was the Annual Assembly and Arrangement of the Nativity Scene, supervised by Maria, starring a cast of porcelain figures, grunt work done by Lil Miss A and Master K...

... followed closely by the Annual Feline Inspection of the Nativity Scene and Comfy Nap By the Stable, starring Briggs Stahl.


Amrita said...

So sorry your sister lost her baby.
I know how can relate that song to the tragic event.

Your kitty wants to be part of the nativity scene.

Northeast Iowa Mom said...

Thank you, Amrita. She and my brother read this blog so she will appreciate your kind words.

The Lord has blessed them with three children since then, praise be to His name. But that does not make the loss of the first one any less.

Aaron said...

Thank you, sis. I won't sing IIWWMS again without remembering this post.

For me, the hymn that really did it was Be Thou My Vision. The final stanza ends with, "Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, O Ruler of all." I'd not paid attention to this lyric until we sang it a few weeks after burying our son.

I'm not sure I understand what the writer(s) had in mind here, but it filled me with resolve to love the Lord at all times. He gives, He takes. He is the Lord, and I am not. He isn't obligated to answer any of my questions, yet in His tender mercy He has answered some. Blessed be His name.