Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Writing New Lyrics to an Old Song

Today found me on bruised knees, digging out the roots from long Alicia Bermuda runners that have spent the winter slowly creeping across the hay field and wrapping themselves around the trunk of my blueberry bushes.

The weather was beautiful, as it has been for the past two weeks--in the 70s with a breeze strong enough to cause my daughter to yell out loud, "Thank you God for the breeze!"

Yet, in the midst of this beauty, I was grumbling in my spirit, frustrated as I hacked at the tenacious roots with an instrument referred to by my children as "the bull thistle puller."  Two years, and I was still failing to push back the hay field, to establish a proper yard with neat, hay-free flower beds and well-defined edges.

As I trudged through this silent chore, up and over the house's rooftop suddenly drifted the sound of vocals loud enough to have come from a radio being switched on.  I couldn't help but smile, knowing what had happened.

Deep in the backyard, my daughter knelt alone in the grass and picked another hand full of  weed-flowers that cover our hay fields with a purple haze in early spring.  Little in life makes Amelia happier than when there is a field of flowers ripe for the plucking.  And in the security of that solitude, her heart burst forth in a song of pure, unabashed praise.

Yes, even with Valentines Day approaching, she belted out her version of last Christmas' favorite-- Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  Three-fourths of the lyrics were replaced with ideas nowhere near what the original author intended.  Some verses were even filled with nonsensical words that merely imitated the sounds she heard but couldn't make fit with her four-year-old understanding and vocabulary.

I've heard this version many times over.  So has my kindergartner son Wyatt, who, having just this December learned the correct words, himself, can no longer stand to hear her mangle the original.

To him, right is right and wrong is wrong, which is why just last week, my car was filled with him loudly chastising her from the backseat. "No, no, NO! Amelia.  That's not how it goes.  Listen to ME...."  The more he criticized, the louder she sang.

If she could have vocalized her thoughts instead of trying to drown him out, I'm sure they would have sounded something like, "No, YOU don't get it.  Praise is praise.  And that's always right."

Yet now in her back yard retreat, no one would criticize her word choices, her simple sounds.  She could sing anything her heart desired.

"Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king
Peace on earth and mercy wild, God has sent a bless-ed child..."

The first time she sang the verse, I thought I had misheard her, but each time, I listened closely and it was the same word.


It's wrong, of course.  But in so many ways, it's so right.  I can't sing the song anymore without thinking of God this way, as a God not with "mercy mild" but with "mercy wild."

His love for us, in sending down a Savior to die for our sin--that is some wild mercy.

When her song ended, the air was silent again.  A few minutes later, she appeared, rounding the corner of the house to find her mother in the dirt.  There she was--my happy, carefree daughter with disheveled hair swinging in the breeze, arms full of wild flowers, and heart bursting with even wilder love.

And what's more? All that wildness was just for me.

Yes.  We live in a world with mercy wild.


  1. Oh. My. Gosh. They give us the best material... Mercy WIld! I love. I love. I love.

  2. I LOVE this. May we all be more like Amelia, singing with abandon in a field of wildflowers (at least in our hearts).