Abide with Me

This morning I walked along the beach with one of my sisters. It was gray and chilly at first, and we drank almond mochas and laughed over old movies that we'd watched together and ranted about nationalized health care.

There, with clouds overhead and wet grass underfoot, I had one of those strange timeless moments--the kind where you look at a family member and remember the way you both were so many years long past. Twenty years ago, we played games together and tattled on each other and bickered. Ten years ago, we played more sophisticated games together and talked over everything and were inseparable. Now I look at her and see a person whose world is rather bigger than her big sister, whose ideas are sometimes quite different from mine, and I felt the change of life and the relative insignificance of my own.

Again and again I've been drawn back to re-watch the Hayley Westenra video I posted a few weeks ago, almost always finding myself moved to tears by the end. My hymnal, always open on an antique music stand in the study, is now open to #419. Miss Westenra's lovely version of that splendid old hymn has run through my head--without wearing out its welcome--off and on for over two weeks.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me

That comforts me, even when it makes me cry.

* * *

The sun came out. We both took off our sweaters. Autumn has a way of going from almost-winter to almost-summer in minutes. My mood lifts with the sunlight, and my sister is my friend and my novel-world still needs some serious plotting and Lou and I have a date with Beethoven. Change in life can be good as well as weird or hard. And for all my fumbling praises and complicated intercessions, my comfort and my ultimate prayer for myself--and, changing the pronouns, for my loved ones--is this simple request:

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

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