I started listening to Sandra McCracken in high school when she sang with Caedmon’s Call. I love singing along with her – my favorite was Shifting Sand. Not only did I resonate with the lyrics, but also with her voice. Last fall when I was thinking more about the psalms, I came across her appropriately titled album Psalms. I listened to her as I walked and walked and walked during the long fall days during my sabbatical. I was happy to discover she was working on a new album, which came out earlier this year: God’s Highway.
No, this is not a sponsored post. I just really like her music.
Each morning on my way to work I listen to NPR’s podcast Up First. It’s a great way to get in a brief summary of the previous day’s news without overloading on politics! After that I turn on some music to help orient my attitude for the day. Often I turn on God’s Highway. However, I found something interesting happening when the title track was playing. I’d be singing along, adding harmonies here and there, sort of paying attention to the lyrics and then the bridge would start…
I’m holding onto you, Lord
You’re holding onto me…
Repeat that several times. After the first few lines I could feel tears forming in my eyes, my voice would start shaking, and eventually I would have to stop singing. What is it about these words?
I knew these tears were coming from a deep place when I found myself crying while singing these words on the way to work on my birthday.
I think the part that really gets me is the second line: you’re holding onto me. I’m not just reaching out to God, but God is also reaching out to me. God is holding onto me. God is not letting go. Apparently that’s something I need to be reminded of regularly.
I’m in a strange place physically right now. On the one hand, I’m living a fairly healthy life: better food choices, training for a half-marathon, yoga 3-4 times a week, averaging over 11,000 steps a day. In fact, I’ve even lost a little weight recently. That’s all good stuff.
At the same time, my stomach is a mess. Really, it’s been a mess my whole life, but it’s particularly bad right now. And, my reproductive system is off too. Between these two, it’s rare that I have a day without some symptom of one kind or another.
So, I finally decided to take some action. For six weeks I kept track of everything related to food, exercise, bodily functions, etc. On Monday I met with my doctor and she suggested more blood work. I felt encouraged that I would finally get some answers. And, I did. That everything is normal. I know, that should be a good thing. And it is. But…
Back to God holding onto me. Because of the physical issues I’m dealing with, I’m very aware of my body. Add regular exercise and yoga to that and I’m almost hyper-aware. Not in a hypochondriac kind of way, but I’m just aware – I know when something is off or not quite right. I’m very focused on my body, on the physicality of my self.
When I think about God holding onto me – I’m overwhelmed with emotion. I want to feel God’s hug, hand, shoulder. I want to really feel God holding onto me.
Maybe this is why adjustments during savasana (rest pose) in yoga are so meaningful to me right now. Maybe this is why I can’t get enough hugs at home. Maybe this is why, when my husband is out of town, you’ll find me on the floor forcing my dog into a hug 🙂 Maybe this is why I long to hug my niece Rosemary through the phone every time we talk. Maybe this is why I was so grateful my doctor hugged me after my appointment on Monday.
I want to feel something other than pain and discomfort. I want to feel God’s presence and the only I can do that here on earth is through you – through other human beings (and dogs!).
Maybe I cry during that refrain because I know God and I both want to hold onto each other, but we can’t.
The main chorus of the song is:
Fear not, keep on, watch and pray
Walk in the light of God’s highway
I can’t be physically held by God, but I can be in God’s presence. I can walk in the Light.
Today, as I was driving and singing and crying in the rain, I noticed some clouds parting and there behind them was blue sky. It didn’t last long, but it did remind me. It reminded me that the blue skies and sun are always there, even when the clouds block my view. Stuff gets in the way sometimes, but reminders like that help me to know God is always there…. Fear not, keep on, watch and pray. And hug. Always hug.