This week I had one of those up close encounters with Hesed. Hesed is the Hebrew word for the steadfast love of God, as in the Book of Lamentations “The steadfast love of God never ceases; God’s mercy never comes to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Hesed is not love when it is convenient and is not love that depends on receiving love back. It is steadfast and never ending and is founded on faithfulness. Hesed is a rare bird to sight and when I witness that love, it moves me to tears. This time I saw Hesed in the parking lot of the nursing home.
I was going to the nursing home to visit a few members of my church. As I got out of my car I heard a quiet but steady singing. Sitting in the car next to me was a very old man. Slowly and in a labored fashion, he was getting out of the car and heading toward the front door of the home. I said to him “That is a beautiful song that you are singing.” He responded with “I come here 10 times a day to sing to my wife.” When I returned with an exclamation about how blessed he and his wife are to have each other he told me that she is sleeping most of the time but still he comes, 10 times a day to sing love songs. The nursing home staff, he told me, says that he comes too often.
And then he started to sing Lullabye And Goodnight as he pushed the button to open the heavy door. I sputtered some inadequate response to his faithful love as he walked down the hallway singing quietly but with great determination. I just stood there, the way you stand because if you weren’t standing you might just fall down. Standing on Holy Ground. Ever since then I have been humming that love song and remembering him.
In the flash of time that it took to hear him sing the refrain I also flashed on to my grand daughter who at 4 years of age still likes taking a nap at my house and who always requests that I sing her 2 songs. Her choice is always the same songs; Let’s Go Fly A Kite, and Lullaby And Good Night. When I sing Lullaby to her I sing my own Nana words which include “when you wake I will be here” and if I forget those words she corrects me. Because this is our little hesed, our little moment in which we each declare that what is needed now is not just a tune but a promise.
That is how it is sometimes; one moment overlays another and we are pitched back and forth between the beginnings of life and the end of life. I hope to God that when it is me laying in the bed sleeping, or trying my best to drift away, that someone will come 10 times a day no matter what the staff says about it to sing to me and bless me with steadfast love. If it is you, you have my permission.