The Old Woman And The Song – Guest Post By Barbara Dalberg

This amazingly beautiful story was written by my mother shortly after my father passed away…as I have one of the busiest weeks EVER this week, so I thought I’d re-post. Please be praying for God’s leading in my family’s life as decisions about the future will be made this week….(ie. job positions, etc.)

The Old Woman and the Song
It was 3:30 in the morning but the old woman didn’t seem to care. She stumbled from her cozy bed and walked on bare concrete floors into the living room to see the full moon shining in through the western windows. It was a cloudless, star filled sky and the moon was round and framed between towering slender tree  trunks. She stood awestruck. “Madeleine says we are the creatures that know,and know that we know.” A tear ran down her wrinkled face.
The floors were cool and her bare feet felt the chill. “I simply won’t budge from this window to satisfy my toes.” She had to see it all, the full moon shining and the wind dancing with the tops of the trees. The night sky reminded her that there is something even bigger than the lovely ball of Earth …..there is a larger galaxy in an even larger universe and a Good Maker of it all. The moon shone on her like a spotlight and she smiled, “If it ‘knew’ as we humans did, it would see me framed as well… my window. It would say, “There’s a woman down there looking up at me. Her hair hangs long down her back and it is streaked with grey. She wears green pajamas and is barefoot. She has a tear running downher cheek.”
She remembered the star gazing rock under the tree branch from which the
wind chime dangled. “I could sit there and observe the stars, feel the wind upon my face, and not be this discontented human window observer. Dare I? At 3:30 in the morning? There’s no one to talk me out of it. There’s no one to know, to worry. Perhaps it is there I will discover what it is I know”. The recent warm spell had caused the snow to recede and the rock had become visible after months of being a lump under many inches of snow. “If I act quickly before talking myself out of it, put my coat on over my pajamas, slip boots on bare feet, (after all it’s probably muddy), I would find myself outside in a matter of moments! But I must hurry!”
Rushing to the closet, the old woman outfitted herself for this unexpected
nocturnal journey and was out the door before she could wipe the tears from herface or blow her nose.  She quietly shut the door behind her, even though in this rural area she was far enough away from any neighbor to be a disturber of their peace. She took small cautious steps because her eyesight wasn’t very good and she hadn’t remembered to grab her glasses. She wished now that she had, for everything looked a bit unclear and she was hesitant to put one booted foot in front of the other.
As she approached the end of the patio she realized that if she were to turn back she should probably do so now, for beyond the patio there would be the stepping stones, the bumpy terrain, and the dark that would make a quick retreat back to the front door more arduous. She hesitated, weighed the possibility of danger against the pure joy of the wind upon her wrinkled brow and made her decision.
She turned to look at the house one last time before proceeding into the
darkness. With no lights left on inside she could still see through the curtainless windows because of the moonshine. “It’s so beautiful…..I miss him”, she sighed, and the wind grabbed her words and tossed them around the trees and up toward the moon and beyond the stars to where all words go when uttered from the heart. She turned toward her destination and throwing all caution to the wind stepped off the patio and made her way to the star gazing rock while the wind whipped her very long grey hair straight up and out, standing on end in every direction.
“I will face down my fears just this once and let my heart have it’s way.” Her lips quivered as she continued to reassure herself while walking further and further away from the house that had become her place of refuge.
The rock was cold and hard and not very accommodating to an old derriere.
And there she sat, under an evergreen branch, overlooking a farmer’s field in
February. She had no way of knowing how much time had passed since she had ventured out into the darkness. At first she tried to relax and smell the pine and hear the wind making melody with the chime. But after a while her thoughts began to wander and she continually glanced back at the house, as if making sure it was still there. She could see it from where she sat and could feel his love wrap around her like the wind.
They had walked this land together in the time before the house, when it was
uncleared and tangled wildness. He had showed her how it would be and she
rejoiced to see him full of dreams and ideas. He walked with her in June wearing his safari jacket, his eyes matching the blue of the sky. And they were happy. In time, the dream became reality. The house now stands in the moonlight, but without him. For after a few months living in the house, one day he said, “I feel dizzy”……and he died in the house. “We were old when we built our house,” she spoke out loud to no one. She recalled saying to him, “An architect should build himself a house. It’s your chance to do it as you please, it’s your house.” His response was always a gentle, “It’s our house.” “Now it is ‘my’ house alone, without him to share it with.” She tried to redirect her thoughts as the tears flowed from her eyes and she reached into her coat pocket to find his handkerchief that was kept there to remind her of him.
Overcome by her grief she quickly stood to her feet, crying out with a firm voice,“It’s enough now, you’ve been gone too long. Come home, I miss you.” But of course her words did not fly off with the wind to beyond the stars but rather dropped heavily at her feet because of their selfishness.
Thoughts of retreating back to the house and being the discontented window
observer filled her tired mind. But she remembered Madeline’s words about
emotions and how they could “…..let loose a storm”. She didn’t have the strength to allow this “….violence of a waterfall to pour through her.” Not here, not now.
She called upon the Good Maker for peace and peace came, along with an
urgency to hear the Song the stars were singing and the wind was carrying to her very spot under the tree branch. There were no more thoughts of the house or of the sudden separation that had caused such great grief, for nothing mattered much in comparison to the hearing of the Song, “……when the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.”
The Song was ancient; much older than the horizon, much older than the dawn. Somewhere in the singing of it the old woman would begin to remember what it was she knew and what the mist of her sorrow had almost extinguished, the heaviness of her grief had almost smothered. She had not forgotten the existence of the Song, but the joy of hearing it. She had not forgotten the Story, but the life and healing of it’s knowing.
It was with the faintest whisper that she became aware of melody, hidden in the wind of “….is and was and is to come”. The lovely light sound came from such a great distance that she strained to hear the sparkling voices. The wind was now violently blowing through her and in her, so that she no longer needed to strain to hear, for it had blown away the misty, heavy covering she had placed on the fire of her heart. It was there she was surprised to find, in this place of inward peace,that the Song had been waiting for her.
Once upon a time, the Story had seemed too big for the Old Woman, for there is no beginning or ending to it’s telling. She was relieved to know that we were
allowed to hear and know only the part of the Story that concerns our small
world. At the start, Good Maker Architect began with foundations and
measurements, lines, bases and cornerstones, and the loud proclamation, “You shall not pass!” But the Song wasn’t really about those things. The Song was very simply about Love. A great Love. The singing stars and angels had observed the Good Maker’s Love and shouted for joy in response to “I Am” and the outpouring of His creative Self. After all……they had witnessed, “It is good”.
The Song was so lovely that the Old Woman became cemented in her stance,
lest she miss a single word. She was refreshed in remembrance of when the
earth was young and the Good Maker and His children walked in a lovely
garden, and all was as it should have been. But in a dark and catastrophic
moment in space and time, all of what was meant to be was changed, for a
serpent deceived the children to trust in his wisdom and to doubt the Goodness of their Maker. And with the shifting of their allegiance came fear, and the children hid themselves from the One who had made them. They would be forced with drawn, flaming swords to leave the beloved Garden, clinging desperately to a promise that there would come a day when the woman’s seed would crush the head of the serpent who had deceived them.
For thousands of years the Story was filled with adventures and miracles, floods and rainbows, wheels in the middle of wheels, giants and slingshots. There would be plagues and blood on door lintels, manna and tablets of stone. But for many, history became legend and legend became myth and things that should not have been forgotten, were.
It seemed all hope had vanished concerning the promised Seed, when
astronomers followed a Star to a lowly stable where a Baby lay in a manger. The Promise was enfleshed and called, Emmanuel, “God with us”…..born with Jewish skin and bone. This same Child grew into manhood proclaiming, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no man goes to the Father except through Me.”
There would be a night to remember when He would consecrate bread and
wine, and institute humility with a towel and a basin. The Promise was then
mocked, spat upon, beaten and crucified, until He uttered, “It is finished”, and the serpent’s head was crushed. And then a most remarkable thing happened.
His tomb was found empty because He had defeated death itself. This victory
ushered in a new age, one of grace and faith. His followers stood looking up into the sky as they watched Lord Jesus rise up into the clouds. “…..remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What a sight the old woman was to behold as she stood listening under her
branch, her eyes closed and her smiling face lifted up toward the stars with the moon shining down upon her. Her coat had flapped open and her green
pajamas had ballooned with the wind as if she were ready for “take off”…..and
all the while her hair continued to be tossed to and fro in the wild winter wind of February.
“Lord Jesus is with me,” she whispered in awe of the renewed revelation. She sat down in reverence for the moment while a great comfort enveloped her. She and her beloved had lived during this glorious age of grace and faith and had placed Lord Jesus in the center of the time they had been given.
It was then that she saw in her minds’ eye two single figures moving toward one another on a crowded dance floor. These two had eyes only for one another as they sought each other out, dodging other dancers along the way. He was a blonde, tanned Swede wearing an earth-toned jacket, and she a frail, young Bohemian girl wearing a green sweater that matched the color of her eyes. They were at the same place at the same time because of a….mistake, which miraculously determined the course for the rest of their lives. They made their way through the crowd until their arms reached out for the other, and so began the dance that would be uniquely theirs and would continue for forty-three years.
The two became three with the birth of a tiny, beautiful daughter when they lived near the Big Lake. She also entered the dance for she loved the Good Maker and His Song. She hung on tightly to Mama’s twirling skirt, or hid in the safety of Daddy’s arms when the dance became risky and adventurous, knowing he would protect her. In these early years they danced in the ghetto of the Windy City when times were turbulent and the serpent had put fear in the hearts of God’s people. Courage was needed and courage arrived, dressed as a lovely Salvation Army “Sallie”, who reminded the dancers that love was much stronger than fear.
They danced in the Suburbs where a blue Night Light announced the excitement of belonging to God’s family and encouraged His artisans to express His glory.
And all the while the obvious was taking place, the dance involved the
designing of buildings that would help others, and the turning of “places” into
homes… that were always golden oak in color. Early in the morning during these years the young architect rode a subway into the Big City, as he purposed in his heart to make a difference wherever he was. And the young mother strummed a guitar on a Suburban porch and sang of the Good Maker’s greatness for all who had ears to hear.
In their later years they danced in a place called “Terra” where young Disciples came to experience Christ in their midst….and to share the bread and the cup.“We get up, we walk, we fall down and meanwhile….we keep dancing.” She remembered how much he loved these words, and that indeed there were times when the dance floor had been strewn with obstacles and they had faltered in their step and perhaps even missed a beat or two. Their dance was not perfect, nor without flaw, but it was danced joyfully and wholeheartedly until death did part. There were times in the weeks before the great grief, when she would nestle up to his ear and whisper, “You’re the love of my life.” And for a moment in earth time, eternity was experienced in the eyes of the beholder as arms held on to the other.
And now, she could see him take a step away from her, bow to the waist, look
her in the eye, and say with that sweet, gentle voice, “Thank you Barbara, for the dance of a lifetime.” A tear slipped down her face as she saw herself curtsey and reply, “My dear Paul, it has been my delight.”
As the sun began to break over the horizon, the Old Woman became aware of
her surroundings and with a full and grateful heart she made her way back to the lovely house, knowing she was after all a creature who “knew”. She knew that the Lord Jesus was with her and that because death had been defeated, she would see her beloved again.
“I stand up, I walk, I fall down and meanwhile….I keep dancing.”

260. I am so thankful for such wonderful parents who raised me…

261. That God’s hand is on my future…

Counting with dear Ann:

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

37 thoughts on “The Old Woman And The Song – Guest Post By Barbara Dalberg

    • Precious Adela, your postings on your childhood have made this recent widow laugh….you share memories about how your family loves one another. What a blessing it is to be able to remind others of love in family. Thanks for your comment. Isn’t it so like Lord Jesus to make sure it is noted, that love is the greatest.

    • Thanks for reading it, Len. It’s rather lengthy and was written for our family as a remembrance of Paul. I’m afraid that because it was written for family…it may not make much sense in some areas to those who do not know us. I appreciate your encouragement. Blessings!

      • Barbara,
        Love is universal. Your piece could have been written by my own mother, except for the specifics about the Chicagoland area. I forwarded the link on to her because I am sure her heart will resonate with yours.

      • Barbara,
        Love is universal. Your piece could have been written by my own mother, except for the specifics about the Chicago-land area. I forwarded the link on to her because I am sure her heart will resonate with yours.

  1. Beautiful.. I actually could hear your voice when reading this. What a beautiful love story to share with all of us and yes it was a true love story. Your story brought back so many memories of growing up back in Oak Park on Taylor St when you would bring the guitar out and we would sing… Blessings to you my dear Barbara.

    • I weep. Your remembrance….my dear Areta, are precious to me. You were so much a part of our family and so many of our memories include you. Yes, you often sat with us on that porch….singing “Covenant Woman”. Thank you forever friend…for loving what we love. You are a blessing!!

  2. My throat is still thick with the emotion your story brought out. Thank you so much for sharing what I can tell is a deep well of love still felt through and through.

    God Bless!

    • Denise… Thank you so much for reading this long post and for taking the time to let me know that it touched your heart. A deep well of love it is…and always will be. Blessings!

    • Judith, perhaps that should’ve been the title….”The Dance of a Lifetime”? Sharing something so personal, meant for family eyes, I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Your response makes me glad that I released it. Thank-you for your comment and blessings!

  3. Kimmie and Barbara,
    Thank you this was lovely and I for one understand and love it. We teach marriage ministry and we were with a couple who is having some growing issues. The example that my husband and I both stated was that marriage is a lifelong dance that changes steps during each marital season. Some steps maybe slow and some maybe fast, some maybe hard to learn and some may make you trip over each other’s feet and fall but there is a season that for each stage that has a lesson to learn and a joy to share. I had tee shirts made for the couple from our gift shop that had two wedding rings on them and the words a life long dance…marriage buddies. You just confirmed what God had been giving us and I know we are on the right path to help Christian marriages. Barbara if you ever want to be a guest blogger on my marriage ministry site I would love it …visit and see what you can offer… and or we can always hear from the voice of wisdom. And if you don’t then your words of wisdom here is enough. I thank you and Kimmie this is my first time I think visiting your blog but it will not be my last and please let me know about your post.
    RevLa…aka…Rev. LaWaughn Rouse

    • Revla….how lovely….the marriage “dance” with all of it’s variations and steps. I am so blessed to know that the Holy Spirit gives many of us the same “pictures” to describe the adventures we take part in. And yes….even tripping over each other’s feet !! Thanks for the invitation. I will visit your marriage ministry site. You are precious in His sight!

  4. I was moved. My mother has been a widow since 1982, when she was just 55. As I round the corner toward that age, I find myself glancing over at my sleeping husband, grateful beyond measure for the borrowed time, which is all anyone really has. There is no comfort that soaks in as deep as the one the Holy Spirit gives. May you be blessed for sharing your very personal story with us.

    • Dear Scrollwork….that’s the heart of it, isn’t it? We should make a conscious effort to be grateful for our spouse in the “now” of our life. And Yes, the Holy Spirit certainly does comfort. And not in an artificial or temporary way…but in a way that brings everlasting hope. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. Dearest’s,

    Surely you have brought new depth in understanding weeping with those who weep. We experience your great love and delight and perseverance through the dance of life that is always complicated even with our beloveds… And we feel the loss, loneliness and longing for all things to be as they were. I pray that in the writing there was a bit of healing. I pray that in the “hearing” of your heart – the fellowship with your suffering has lightened the burden even if but a few ounces. You are brave and extraordinary. I am honored to have had a glimpse of your giftedness as a writer and equally honored to know women who have maintained such purity in their love for Jesus throughout a lifetime. You inspire me.

    • Guineveresj…you are so very tender-hearted. It’s an extraordinary gift to share in the grief of others. Loving your neighbor as yourself is experienced deeply in you and always accompanied by wonderful words of encouragement. There was “a bit of healing” in the writing and also a comfort that “all is well”. Thank you for your comment and blessings my lovely friend.

    • Sandra, doesn’t it amaze us when our own stories touch the hearts of others? Life holds so many surprises that one truly does not know what may happen next. We can however, be sure He is with us always. Thank you for taking the time to encourage me. Blessings !

    • Laura, it blesses me to know this personal story touches others. It is so thoughful of you to not only read it but then to leave such an encouraging comment. Thank you so much for your kind words. Blessings.

  6. this is such a beautiful story you put together…well penned and stirs the emotions…being married to a dancer, the but i keep on dancing hits home for me…

    • Thanks for taking the time to read this post Brian. The phrase….meanwhile I keep dancing….is in quotes but I don’t know who said it. I remember my husband sharing it with me a few years ago…and I found a copy of it as I was going through his things after he passed into glory. I’m so glad you could relate in a special way because your wife is a dancer. Love her…special…and dance a glorious dance.

    • Thanks Deidra for taking the time to comment and encourage me. It was a sweet release of emotions for me to write about the life I shared life with my husband, and it blesses me that it touches the hearts of others. Blessings !

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  9. “It was with the faintest whisper that she became aware of melody, hidden in the wind of..” – – i feel like I am in this whisper through the whole piece. lovely.

  10. what a inspirational story Barbara..Happy Birthday to your wonderful husband Paul who will never be forgotten. Sending huggs to you and hope that all is well…

  11. Oh, thank you for sharing this beautiful word-picture. I felt the wind, the darkness, the stars above, the dancing, and so much more. I have been blessed by being here this day.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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