(Metro Creative photo)

Reflections: By Rita Joan Dozlaw

Hark The Herald Music Rang

Eugenia put the final pieces together in the short-stories biography of her grown grandson, David. She’d filled the manuscript with the young man’s early adventures, and there was only room for one more short story or a few vignettes. Her plan was to surprise him at Christmastime with the highly personal collection.

Eugenia’s mind kept falling back into a mental block. Tangled with torment, it kept entertaining only sparse tidbits of one important episode in David’s teenage years. Eugenia had faithfully written down the bones of the event and filed the outline for safe keeping, but when she was ready to work with it, it was gone. She exhausted every hour poking through heaps of ‘small beginnings’, scenarios and early drafts with no luck. She feared her recall of the details were not enough to write a complete piece.

Weeks sped by and, taking a break from her work, Eugenia rearranged stacks of items covering a shelf in her study. Near-ready to leave her dear David’s biography unfinished, she was astonished to find the outline buried in a stack of papers.

She could hardly control her emotions; for, as suddenly as the lost draft appeared, hot tears streamed, like pools of a cleansing fountain, over her heavy heart and once-clouded mind. Her hands shook as she clutched the dishevelled bundle of hand-written notes, secured with a large paperclip, to her chest in relief. I can get back to my project now… and finish it up by Christmastime! Elated beyond words, she sat down to concentrate on the important story she’d wanted so badly to include in the collection for her sweetheart of a grandson.

On Christmas morning, David was overwhelmed at the accounts recorded in his biography. He paused to silently read the very last story to himself. The flashbacks brought a flood of tears to his eyes and he choked, “Oh, Gramma, thank you!”

“Read it for us,” Eugenia coaxed.

With reverence and emotion, David began:

“It was 1949, and the slight boy of seventeen attended church services in a basement, with his family, while their new church was under construction. Everyone was proud of the months of hard work which the enthusiastic teens, including David, put in to help build the three-room chapel. Early in the planning, a vote was taken, and a modest but impressive bell tower was designed to be erected.

Blueprints indicated a staircase to the attic and, adjacent to the sanctuary, a spacious study for the pastor offered room for his shelves of reference books, Bibles, and some storage. It included a closet where the choir’s rich maroon-coloured robes would hang. The pastor donated his own upright piano, and David safely led the team transporting the instrument from the parsonage to the new location in the church.

During the season local church bells resounded, and it disappointed David that the target to finance bells for the tower had not yet been met. Resourceful, he began work on logistics to use his record player at the site. His mom donated records, and a far corner of a hall was designated the ‘music lair’. His dad helped rig the electricals, after which a friend expertly manned the sound system.

Throughout the week his recorded music rang and, for the Christmas service inside the sanctuary, the parson’s table held an open Bible, a candelabra of four red tapers and a white one to symbolize the Sundays of Advent. From the tower, strains of spiritual carols welcomed everyone to their new Southside Church of the Nazarene in Edmonton, Alberta.

Folks entering through the double doors heard the glorious hymns of praise—piped to the rooftop and broadcast, over a modest loud-speaker system, through the bell tower. Among favorites, the ‘Coventry Carol’, and ‘Carol of the Bells’ echoed sweetly as chimes tolled from neighboring churches.

On that Christmas morning, before prayers, the Advent candles were lit and a stunning repertoire of carols including ‘Away in a Manger’, and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ echoed into the hallowed chamber and over the neighbourhood.”

Finishing with a throaty voice, David wrapped his grandma in a huge hug and thanked her again for the treasured gift.

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