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My Oh My: A Note of Gratitude

Dear St. Alban’s,

 

I want to begin with my profound thanks for both the gracious welcome home as I returned from my three-month sabbatical, and for the outpouring of love and compassion following the unexpected death of my father last week. It has not been the gentle re-entry into parish life I envisioned, but nonetheless, I have felt upheld and strengthened by your support and prayers.

 

Last Tuesday, as I rushed to the airport to catch a last-minute flight to Nashville to say goodbye to my dad, I experienced what can only be described as the peace of Christ descending upon me. While the pain of losing him is all too real, that sense of peace has remained with me in the days since his death. My family and I are incredibly sad, but we are also doing ok.

 

I know many of you have walked the path of grief following the death of a parent, spouse, sibling, child, or close friend. If you have not, you will. It is an unavoidable part of being human. We are never fully ready for our loved ones to leave us, but a beautiful paradox of our faith is the promise that the end of this transitory life is also the beginning of eternal life in God’s embrace. We wish we could know all the details and specifics of this promise, but alas, they are pure mystery to those of us who have not yet made that journey. Yet, the promise still offers some comfort and hope to us as we grieve. Without this promise, I do not think I would have been able to endure the death of my mom 23 years ago, and now the loss of my dad. As the Book of Common Prayer put it, “All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” (BCP, page 499)

 

“…we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” I love that. My dad would have loved it too. He was a man of deep faith and a maker of songs…some spiritual, some silly, some searingly critical of corruption and hypocrisy in all its forms.

 

You can read a little about his vocation as a songwriter here: https://musicrow.com/2024/07/song-poet-mark-germino-passes/ and if you like, you can listen to his final album Midnight Carnival on Spotify or most other music streaming platforms. It’s my favorite of all his records. I think the tone is a bit more wistful than his prior work, but it’s still a lot of fun too. One of the simplest but most poignant songs on the album is entitled “My Oh My”. Even though I’ve listened to it countless times, it was only this week that I realized the song perfectly expresses the theme of my recent sabbatical: Awe…and the wonder and gratitude that flow from tapping into an awareness of God’s presence and majesty in the midst of our everyday lives. That sense of awe and gratitude was an integral part of my dad’s life, and something he passed on to my brother and me. I hope you’ll give the song a listen when you have the time, but for now, here are the lyrics:

 

My Oh My, what a world we live in.

My Oh My, what a world we live in.

This may sound kind of strange,

But driving through south La Grange,

I knew things would be alright.

 

My Oh My, what a veil we see through.

My Oh My, what a veil we see through.

Some wake up so withdrawn,

Some walk with blinders on,

This moon’s such a beautiful sight.

 

Bridge:

Precious is what we touch and long for,

Measured by just how much we care.

Let us be thankful for the asking,

Not just what’s answered in a prayer.

 

My Oh My, what a crown He wears proudly.

My Oh My, in a voice we sing loudly.

Pleasures teach us to dream,

But pain teaches everything.

Is this not one beautiful night?

 

© Mark Germino

 

Yours in Christ,

Carmen

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