Once upon a time in a the far away land of childhood, I sat on a folding chair on a hot summer night. Sawdust clung to my white socks. Patent leather shoes covered with clumps of dust. Mom on one side. Dad on the other.
“Clouds are the dust of His Feet
and watching the evening sky
I chuckled to think, “Now neat.
God just passed by.”
A man sang. A choir sang. We sang. A man spoke. I fell asleep in my daddy’s lap. My long hair not in its usual ponytail, but loose and sticking to me and to my dad. Later, cradled in my father’s arms, the talking man greeted us and pushed a strand of hair out of my sleepy eyes. His smile bright enough to see the dust motes circling in the lights from the tent as we walked into the darkness towards the car.
Yet something happened that night. Something that caused me to bury that visual memory deep in “never-to-be-forgotten” files. Sometimes, I think it was the breeze that seemed to filter through the open sides of the tent. Sometimes I think it was watching my feet swing back and forth as we waited for people to finish filing into the seats around us. Sometimes I think it was just hearing the voices of my parents in my ears. But most of the time, I think it was the voice and the smile of Rev. Billy Graham, the man who spoke that night.
“Dust my soul tonight
Earth has been dear
Bewildered, I come to You,
Father God, hear.”
Back in 1994 my mom, retired for 8 years, was still traveling around to sing in various choirs. Most of all, she loved singing in the massive choirs of the Billy Graham gatherings. Columbus or Cleveland. Didn’t matter. She was off, singing and loving every minute of it. Big crowds were never my thing, so I never went with her. I think the small tent revival won my heart forever. To this day, I do regret that I never went with her when she asked.
It was 1994, when I bought my mom a book of poetry. She was the first one to teach me to love poetry and reading. Sitting on her lap, listening to the rhythm of the words harmonized to the beating of her heart was heaven. Dad followed right behind her because he would sing me to sleep; the lyrics touching my eyelids softly until sleep was too hard to resist. I didn’t realize it at the time, but later, I read the poetry my dad had written to mom when they were high school sweethearts. No wonder I love to read and write the stuff.
through the echoing of my empty
‘I shall be waiting for you
at the very spot
you left my side.’ “
The poetry book was written by Ruth Bell Graham called, Clouds are the Dust of His Feet. Marked with sticky notes, Mom kept it by her side until she developed Macular Degeneration. Later when she moved to the nursing home, it was on her bedside table with her Bible. And occasionally – once in a great while – we would read together again.
“When the butterfly escapes
Dust motes are almost invisible. Unless the light hits them just right or get some in an eye, we walk right through them and never notice. Sometimes, I think of my memories like that. They are dust motes. Floating. Drifting. Circling. They exist.They are right there within reach. Yet somehow, we just ignore them until something highlights them in such a way that we remember.
His Light highlighted certain dust motes for me this week. Rev. Billy Graham went home. He got to see his wife, loved ones, and the faces he longed to see the most – the Father and His Son, Jesus. It makes me wonder how it all works. I wonder if there is an announcement made before hand in heaven so that all the loved ones can gather or do they just know? I wonder what is like to see the face of Our Father and Yeshua, our LORD? I’ve re-read the words that Ruth wrote to Billy “a day or two” before they were married and wonder about their reunion?
I wonder and wonder and wonder, and I am oh-so thankful. Thankful for dust motes created by two people I never truly knew, but who changed my life in so many ways. Someday, I hope to find them in heaven and say thank you for being dust motes in my life. And just maybe – Mom, Dad and I can sing to them, “Just as I am…”
“I’ll be a bride – –
your bride, dear – –
in just a day or two.
There’ll be white
and a long veil
to see up through.
There’ll be flowers,
and after our vows,
and after the prayer
your firm, sweet kiss,
and people everywhere.
There will be rice in showers,
perhaps a can or two.
there’ll be you!”
[Poetry by Ruth Bell Graham, Clouds are the Dust of His Feet and Footprints of a Pilgrim