Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter People and Lo Lat

Yesterday, a Jewish friend of mine in Taiwan took his song to a nursing home near his home. The song he composed is part of his effort to recover an old way of saying “Thank you” in Taiwanese. His song is “Lo Lat” and sung to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” He went with an elementary school teacher who is Tzu Chi Buddhist and who goes every Saturday to play his harmonica for the people in the home.

My friend sang “Lo Lat” to fifty very old and very sick people, he said. He wondered if any of the many comatose people even heard his song or the harmonica played by his friend. It reminded me of the experience of a friend of a friend several years ago.

Early in her ministry, Jaime Potter-Miller served as chaplain in a retirement community. She determined that one way of loving the people was to bring her guitar and sing. There was one patient in particular, however, for whom even singing seemed a waste of time. A brain-stem stroke had left this woman virtually comatose, with not even a twitch of response to any stimuli in years. Her family had tried everything they could to reach her, but nothing evoked even a semblance of recognition.

Unable to bypass this woman’s bed, Jaime bent down with her guitar as close to the woman’s face as she could get, and began singing. “I wonder what she sang when she went to Sunday School?” Jaime asked herself. She begin to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” During this song, Jaime thought she heard a groaning sound. Then she watched in amazement as this stroke victim began to make guttural noises. She stopped singing, afraid that the woman was having another stroke, and called the nurse.

The nurse examined the woman, and found her no different than usual. “You had to be imagining it, Jaime. This woman hasn’t had any bodily response to anything or anyone in years.” But Jaime wouldn’t let her go.

“Listen to this,” Jaime insisted. Once again she sang, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” And once again the woman began making those signs and sounds “too deep for words.” The nurse bolted out of the room, collected every other medical staff person she could find, and brought them to witness a miracle. A simple song of love had reached into this woman’s soul and touched her where nothing else could.

Today, many will be singing “Easter People raise your voices!” Maybe this will be a day when Christians can remember that "Easter People" are in fact people of any race or creed who are so taken with a spirit of love that they take their guitars, harmonicas, voices, and whatever skills they have, often at considerable risk, into the most unlikely places to sing, play, teach, or cook their ways into the most unlikely of hearts.

Happy Easter! Lo Lat!

- Milo

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