Being greeted at the nursing home by sounds of bells and buzzers, the mild urine odor, and sight of deteriorated lives, reminded me of visits to Grandma Gladys in the mid 60’s. Forty years later, it was still difficult for me to spend time in the home. Over the years, I have participated in the yearly caroling. So, entering the building this particular evening my heart was already prepared for what I would see, smell and hear. Anticipating the same experience and reaction as the last forty years.
As the group of children began to sing their sweet, innocent little voices permeated the room. “Jingle Bells,” “O Come All Ye faithful” all the traditional Christmas songs and carols were sung. Honestly, the order of songs and everyone in the room is a bit hazy in my mind. What stands out clearly is the events which occurred when the children sang “Silent Night.”
Earlier in the evening, as staff moved the residents into the foyer, one woman was combative. Not wanting to leave her room, she then cursed and yelled at other residents. Eventually staff sat her at the back of the room all alone, as the impromptu concert continued.
Silent Night. Holy Night…Alles schläft; einsam wacht. Nur das traute hochheilige Paar. English and German words blended together, as the children continued singing. In my mind I questioned, who is singing in German? As I glanced throughout the room, the realization took a hold as I saw the once combative woman singing. No longer combative, a look of peace adorned her face. Looking off into the distance with tears streaming down her cheeks, she continued….Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht, Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund, Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’. Christ, in deiner Geburt! Christ, in deiner Geburt!
The familiar odor, sights and sounds were lost as I observed this woman. Even in words I could not understand, her facial expression and body language allowed me to witness the love she had for Christ the Savior. Time stood still that evening. I was a spectator to the Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund (Dawn of Redeeming Grace) for the little German woman in the nursing home!