Rejoicing over the Dawning of a New Day

Dear Reader:

Have you ever been reading a novel, suddenly stopped, put the book down, and then taken a few minutes to think about what you just read? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago…actually on July 4 before I headed over to John and Mandy’s for the July Fourth family celebration and the ‘revealing’ of Walsh and Mollie’s latest addition.

One thing about this humid, hot, oppressive July is that it has kept me inside more than usual and I have spent that time reading, reading, reading. You might remember I shared this book with you (at the beginning of the summer) that Jackson selected to open their first book club meeting with this fall.

She, also, suggested it to me to read and I ordered it from Amazon.com… but while waiting I  started another book. So it took a few days before I was finished with the first novel and was ready to start this one.

When I got to one section of the book, I stood up and then sat back down to absorb it mentally and emotionally…I called Jackson to tell her what I was experiencing and she warned me to just wait…there were more “miracles” to come. I have concluded that like GodWinks miracles don’t just belong to one person…they affect a circle of people whose lives revolve around the initial miracle recipient.

I am going to try really hard not to give anything definitive away in a blurb I am going to share with you but I just could not…not share it in case you never read the book.

Let’s just say that a terrible tragedy has hit a well-respected and popular pastor’s family in a small town in Minnesota. The pastor has decided to go ahead, however, and preach the sermon that following Sunday…only days after this personal horrific catastrophe.

The story is being told through the eyes and memories of Frank (the oldest son -13- at the time of the tragedy) forty years later. He remembers his mother and little brother could not emotionally attend the church service that Sunday. He, himself,  doesn’t know how his father, with deep dark circles under his eyes, looking like he has aged two decades in  a lapse of days, is going to get through the service.

Perhaps that is why ( as Frank remembered) that he attended that Sunday or perhaps it was because his father promised him that somehow, someway something good would come of all this…a miracle of sorts.

The church was packed to the hilt…probably due to more curiosity than anything, though certainly mixed with empathy for the likable pastor. Frank was surprised when his father stood in front of the congregation with no notes or papers…only his voice to guide him through the sermon.

Shaky at first with long moments of struggling to control his emotions, Frank’s father suddenly stops and takes a big gulp of air as if trying to find enough air to keep him alive. Frank is terrified his father isn’t going to make it through the sermon and stares down at the floor.

But then…the words begin to flow into sentences, which in turn flowed into paragraphs that somehow transcended time that long-ago summer morning. Frank witnessed the miracle his father had promised.

(Here is one small excerpt from this sermon/service)

…”When we feel abandoned, alone, and lost, what’s left to us? What do I have, what do you have, what do any of us have left except the overpowering temptation to rail against God and to blame him for the dark night into which he’s led us, to blame him for our misery, to blame him and cry out against him for not caring? What’s left to us when that which we love most has been taken.”

” I will tell you what’s left, three profound blessings…Saint Paul tells us exactly what they are: Faith, Hope, and Love. These gifts, which are the foundation of eternity, God has given to us and he’s given us complete control over them. Even in the darkest night, it’s still within our power to hold to faith. We can still embrace hope. And although we may ourselves feel unloved we can still stand steadfast in our love for others and for God. All this is in our control. God gave us these gifts and he does not take them back. It is we who choose to discard them.”

“In your dark night, I urge you to hold to your faith. to embrace hope, and to bear your love before you like a burning candle, for I promise that it will light your way.”

“And whether you believe in miracles or not…I can guarantee that you will experience one. It may not be the miracle you’re prayed for. God probably won’t undo what’s been done. The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the day…”

…”I invite you, my brothers and sisters, to rejoice with me in the divine grace of the Lord and in the beauty of this morning, which he has given us.”

My father’s eyes swept over the congregants who filled the pews silent as dandelions with upturned faces. He smiled and said “Amen.”

“I left the church that morning feeling, as I do to this day, that I had experienced a miracle, the one promised by my father who had spoken a truth profound and simple.

…………………………..

(But as Jackson warned me…the best is yet to come..another miracle is brewing that changes the family forever. This is a book you won’t forget easily.)

So until tomorrow…Frank’s father’s sermon reminds us that courage and bravery often come in the form of a small, whispered voice in the deep darkness of night, that asks us to remember to say and act upon… “I will try again tomorrow.” It is a new day with a clean slate and new possibilities.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*I once heard a counselor say that an important sign in healing over the loss of a loved one comes in the form of renewed appreciation and fascination for the beauty of a new day…a sunrise of colors beyond the imagination. When we can, once again, give thanks for the beauty of the earth… soulful peace returns.

And speaking of a new day…Mandy called and asked me over to have supper at their house last evening…W.T. and Joan (John’s parents) were in town from Huntsville, Alabama. It was so great to see them again…it had been a couple of years and was so much fun catching up.

As I walked by a side table in the den…there was a frame with this saying…a GodWink.

Jakie loves his granddaddy…and Eva Cate loved doing all kinds of girl things with Joan (BeBe) Their visit is too short but so glad I got to be a part of it.

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About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to Rejoicing over the Dawning of a New Day

  1. bcparkison says:

    I do love this. And I am so thankful that for many years ago it was ingrained into my soul to give thanks always for all things. I really can’t,at this time, imagine blaming my Heavenly Father for anything . Will look for the book. The sunrise ,or sun set, is beautiful.

    Like

  2. Rachel Edwards says:

    Becky…if it is not tacky I would love to borrow and read this book. Also my sister’s pastor has Parkinson and he recently wrote a letter to his congregation about one of the first signs of his disease was not being able to smile a genuine smile anymore bc of the disease which is hard when you are preaching…but he assured them that he was smiling inside bc…his heart was still beating and his lungs still breathing…his wife didn’t pity him…his children were in denial and treated him the same as they always did which works well for all of them…his supportive congregation and the love of family and friends….

    On Jul 16, 2017 6:01 AM, “Chapel of Hope Stories” wrote:

    > Becky Dingle posted: ” Dear Reader: Have you ever been reading a novel, > suddenly stopped, put the book down, and then taken a few minutes to think > about what you just read? This happened to me a couple of weeks > ago…actually on July 4 before I headed over to John and Ma” >

    Like

    • Becky Dingle says:

      I would be more than happy to share it with you…a good book should continue to tell stories for those who want to hear them. Stop by any time or I can leave it on the bench…whatever suits you best.

      Like

  3. Sis H Kinney says:

    Hi Becky,
    I’m a day late on reading this one (it’s now Monday the 17th), but your excerpt/description of this novel hit me like a hammer! When I was still living in Virginia, this exact thing happened to our priest at the Episcopal church of which I was a new member! I believe it happened shortly after Bobby and I had gotten married; it might even have been after our daughter was born (1987). The priest’s daughter – the youngest of five children – had been murdered while away at college in Harrisonburg, VA (I think it was there). It was a scant few days afterwards that he was back in the pulpit – literally within the same week! – preaching. He, too, talked about people wanting to rail at God for “letting this horrible thing happen,” and he, too, preached about how it is us who fail, not God. He touched SO many hearts that day – none of us could believe he was even present, much less preaching! He spoke about how he and his wife had prayed and prayed and that they had chosen to forgive the person (who was still at large at the time of the preaching) who had taken away their daughter. When that person was caught, they met with him to let him know that they had forgiven him and that God would, too. Gives ME chills just to remember this and think about how closely it resembles what you just described in this book!!
    I will definitely have to get a copy of this book and read it. Just had to share with you.
    Much love,
    Sis

    Like

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