Issue Date: September 10, 2004
By PAIGE BYRNE SHORTAL
I sing to my granddaughter Sakura. For diaper changing, I launch into the Gelineau Psalms because there is one for every occasion. Psalm 139 is good for the easy wet ones: It was you who created my being, knit me together in my mothers womb. For the really poopy ones, theres Psalm 8: What are we that you should keep us in mind; we are mortal, yet you care for us.
I sang to my sons until I was replaced by Mr. Sony Walkman. When my granddaughters daddy was 5 he made it clear that some songs were not bedtime material: cradles falling, ladybug houses burning, Puff dying. I couldnt blame him -- a veritable Brothers Grimm musical.
This same son also had ideas of appropriate songs around the house. If I sang a hymn that had gotten stuck in my head, hed shout, This isnt a church, you know!
Once I tried to reason with him: You know, Philip, there are people who pay Mommy to sing these songs.
Well, no one is paying you now!
My friend, Jane, who has 20-plus grandkids, told me that a grandparents love is the most like Gods. When our first was born, Jane called and asked if now I understood.
When my husband and I sing to Sakura together, shes in heaven. As we harmonize on Abide With Me or Dona Nobis Pacem, she places a tiny hand on each of us and gets this milky look of bliss on her face.
But her favorite, the song that works magic when shes fractious, is Tell Me Why. She can be howling and this song works like a rune: Tell me why the stars do shine the ivy twines the skys so blue And then Ill tell you why I love you. And the answer to this tuneful baby catechism question is, Because God made you; thats why I love you.
Its not complicated. Its the most like Gods love.
Paige Byrne Shortal writes from her home in rural Missouri.
National Catholic Reporter, September 10, 2004
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