Mrs. Hayes. 1918-2005

Yesterday I went to a funeral for my boyhood Sunday school teacher Mrs. Hayes. She had been teaching Sunday school for a long, long time. She was even my dad’s Sunday school teacher. If we were still attending that church she would have watched my sons in the nursery. Anyway, the service was nice, lots of funny stories and fond remembrances.
Upon walking into the funeral home I noticed that the music sounded familiar. Then I realized they were playing my CD.
Let me tell you about the CD. I used to have a keyboard at home and I would spend my personal worship time just playing the piano for hours at a time. When my wife was pregnant with our first son she asked me to record a CD for her to sooth her nerves while she was in labor. The next time I sat down at the keyboard, I hit record and played for about an hour straight. The music on that CD was the first thing that my sons heard upon entering this world and that brings joy to my heart! The midwives that were at the birth requested copies of the CD and since then my music has been heard at hundreds of births. I’ve gone to weddings and doctor’s offices and heard my music. I have no idea how many people have heard this music. Turns out Mrs. Hayes was listening to the CD when she passed. And now the music was playing at the funeral.
It’s amazing to me that this simple act of personal worship has become a blessing to these people. I’m a musician. To me, I was just doing what I do. So as I was sitting in the funeral home I started thinking about people just “doing what they do” and how that can turn into a blessing to others. I looked at the beautiful woodwork around the altar and saw how it made the atmosphere so nice in the chapel, and how that must have comforted so many people over the years. Then I looked at the wrought iron kneeling benches, and thought of the craftsman that made these, and how many people have grieved, and remembered loved ones while kneeling on them. Then I looked at the flowers and thought of a person who loves nothing more than being on their knees in the dirt surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation, and all the thought and effort they put into making a beautiful arrangement that would comfort these people today.
These people were just doing what they do, but I like to think that they were doing it as an act of personal worship unto the Lord.

I learned something about Mrs. Hayes yesterday. I never knew that she had a son of her own. Apparently she lost her son when he was a young boy. She was, of course devastated. She was unable to have any children of her own after that but she loved kids, and she spent the rest of life serving children in Sunday school. It occurs to me that serving children was Mrs. Hayes personal act of worship. She didn’t do it for the fanfare, not to be recognized, she was just “doing what she does”.
At the end of the service my grandmother who is a dear friend of Mrs. Hayes asked for anyone that had been in her Sunday school class to stand up. Almost half of those in attendance stood to their feet. And those were only the ones that still live in town and were able to make the service in the middle of a work day. I know that thousands of children have gone through her Sunday school classes since she started teaching in the early fifties. What an incredible legacy.

Isn’t it amazing that when we “do what we do” as a simple act of personal worship it can have such a profound impact on so many?


Crissi said...

Your entry today touched my heart.

Liz J said...

I still attend church with my preschool Sunday School teacher. And she currently teaches my four year-old niece. And I know she taught for years and years before me. One of my junior high school Sunday School teachers had been in her class. It just sounds like her and Mrs. Hayes had somewhat of a parallel passion and guidance for the children of God. Auntie Ellen (that's what everyone calls her) is still living, but I pray that I treasure the time I still have with her, because I know that she is getting older and will most likely go meet Jesus long before I do.
I remember learning, "Jesus Loves the Little Children," from her. Now that I think about it, she probably helped to build my huge passion for music. And looking back, I see that she has constantly been a support for me. She attended my band and choir concerts all the way into college. She should know that she has touched my life. I am going to write her a Thank You note. And it's true-she was just doing what she does, but not just that, she is doing what God called her to do.
Thank you for sharing your experience.

Thomas Costello said...

I liked what you had to say here jimmy. In fact I may use it in my sermon tonight. THe sad reality that I am hit with is that so many people are missing out on the joy of their work. Chances are that the wood working, ant metal working and even the flowers were not placed there in an act of worship. They were probablly fought over and grumbled about, and paid for and everything that goes wth the way the world works. There is so much available to us. We can take so much joy in our work. God has been showing me how to take joy and worship while driving my 400 miles twice a week. We need to take advantage of every chance to worship.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that post. I can't wait to go to heaven and meet all the developmentally disabled people I've taken care. All those who could not talk or walk or move or even smile. I can't wait to see them walking and talking and laughing and thanking me for taking such good care of them and loving them. It really makes my work a joy. I pray that my worship encourages others to worship both at church and away.
Hey, and nice flower choice. That made me smile :)

ben said...

I remember Mrs. Hayes vividly, as if I were in her class room only weeks ago and not several years.
Mrs. Hayes was a wonderful woman and she lived a full life and touched many people in personal ways...She was blessed and she blessed me, God bless her.