Swept Away

March 26, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Swept Away

” When your words reach as far as another’s heart, you open up a portal 

for God’s Love to flow into this world…”


written by Debbie Allen

Late Spring showers pelted the grounds outside of the wedding hall where my husband and I sat with our eyes fixed on a set of double doors, anticipating the any-minute-now, grand entrance of the Bride and Groom.  Soon, the doors flung wide open!  Even the heavenly thunder-boomers clashing in the skies outside seemed to chime in at this exact moment, announcing the happy couple.  Then another thunderous jolt rumbled out it’s own unbridled, “con-grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-atulations,” to them like a hundred bass kettle drums reverberating in a grand symphony.  Nothing quite compares to the sounds of joy flooding across a room filled with hundreds of family members, friends, and friends who have grown to call each other family over the years.  Handshakes, congrats pats, and warm embraces were exchanged.  Then, there were the sweet sounds of laughter and clinking glasses being raised high,  sharing in the toasts of friends and family who remembered the Bride and Groom as kids; and each other with more hair and fewer wrinkles.  Because we bump into so much change in the midst of these momentous occasions, it should have come as no surprise to me that the flood of joy I found myself standing knee-deep in brought with it a tidal wave of emotions.


In an attempt to keep my own Maybelline tributaries in check, I moved as far away from the potential bawlers in the crowd as I could, joining my husband in the clappers-and-smilers section of the crowd we were standing in.  At the sight of the new Bride and Groom, pride radiated from both our faces.  After all, we’d known the Groom and his family since childhood.  He was my son’s best friend all through school.  Over the years, his family became our’s and visa versa.  Speaking with  the Groom’s Grandmother, I felt a gentle  tug from behind.  Turning around, I found myself face to face with the handsome Groom himself.

“Debbie…Jim!  I’m so glad you guys made it!” Mick said in his own familiar, sweet, way; reaching for my husband’s outstretched hand.

Though my brain heard those words being spoken with all the same charm of the little boy I watched grow up; my eyes could hardly deny that the voice speaking them now was coming from the man-sized tuxedo standing square in front of me.

“Congratulations, Mick…I’m so proud of you.”  I offered with a heartfelt hug.

Pulling away from that embrace,, I watched a boyish smile overtake Mick’s face.  Then, he leaned over and planted an unexpected peck on my cheek and sealed it with another hug.

“Thanks for being my second mom,” he added with a shyness all his own.  “For just being there…and for  all the time I spent at your house…for everything.”  he continued , looking back down at his feet.

That second squeeze put quite a strain on those Maybelline tributaries I mentioned earlier.  Had there been any Hollywood sound effects available for this moment, the whole world would have heard the sounds of gigantuous tidal waves, wildly slapping against the backsides of my eyeballs, growing hotter by the minute in an effort to control the uncontrollable!

As I watched Mick walk away from me to retrieve his new Bride, Ellie, I felt the sting of a Second-Mom’s apron strings being cut.  An unforeseen moment filled with the bittersweet mixture of both pride and humility.  Pride for the man the little  boy had grown into; yet, humbleness for the God-given role I’d been allowed to play in his life’s story.  It was by far, one of life’s greatest rewards to ever be received  for any kind of a mom.  The fact that Mick was my son’s very best friend made that role easy.  Mick, being the special young man he was made the part an even greater pleasure.

You see, Mick was unique from the very beginning.  While most little boys his age were sticking their  fingers in their ears to try and keep from hearing what their parents and teachers had to say to them, Mick was sticking hearing aids into his ears every morning in an effort to hear them at all.  Until he started school, no one even knew of his hearing handicap.  Shortly afterwards, doctors discovered he’d been born with a type of progressive, heredity nerve damage.  Deafness was inevitable some time in his adult years. To those of us who take our gift of  hearing for granted, Mick’s deaf-sentence may have seemed more like a death-sentence.  But, even with such a bleak picture hanging over him from this time forward, I can’t think of one time when I ever heard Mick openly complain about his loss of hearing.  Even as a little boy, he appeared to accept it and somehow learned to deal with its endless inconveniences.  Believe me…there were many.

Talking with his Grandma during the reception,  she tearfully recalled her little six-year-old Mick, walking a few steps in front of her on the very first day he wore his hearing aids.

“I was so excited to see if the hearing aids worked,” she explained to me.  “So I called out his name.  Softly , at first…and then a little louder.  My heart sank at his lack of response.  But, then an airplane flew overhead.  I watched Mick whip his head upward and turn to watch the plane fly over him with a grin on his face.  I knew he’d heard it!  While still still shielding his eyes from the bright sun, Mick then turned and faced me.

“Grandma?” he asked.  “Did you say something to me awhile ago?”

“Relieved, I nodded, still a little puzzled.” she added.

“I wasn’t sure you were talking to me, Grandma.  It’s the first time I ever heard my name out loud.” he elaborated.

Tears rolled down both her cheeks and mine as we relived the joy that flooded this moment so long ago.

Though a great blessing to Mick, he also discovered his hearing aids to be a great inconvenience at times, especially being a little boy.  Little boys don’t think before they act, they just dive in, head-first.  That’s what happened one summer afternoon in our backyard wading pool.  Mick followed my son, Trevor, across the yard and jumped into the wading pool.  The next thing I remembered is looking up to see a petrified Mick standing with my son’s arm around his shoulders at my back door.  Enclosed in Mick’s dripping wet fist, were two soggy hearing aids.  Looking a bit sheepish, he plopped them into my open hand, hoping I’d know what to do with them.  Smiling like I did, I reached for a paper Dixie cup to house this little boy’s $5000 boo-boo.  Four -hours-on-my –window-sill-in-the-sunshine and thirty-minutes-of-praying-with-a- blow-dryer later, Mick’s hearing aids again proved themselves to be a miracle!  Though I knew they hadn’t been labeled water proof, they must have been boy-proof, at the very least!

Backyard camping proved to be a bit hazardous for Mick, too.  Knowing Mick took his hearing aids out every night to sleep; two of his tent buddies pretended to be asleep until Mick drifted off.  He slept so-o-o sound not being able to hear any noise going on around him that  Trevor and another friend were able to sneak into our house, grab a permanent marker, return to the tent, and make a minor adjustment to Mick’s face while he slept.  The next morning, sitting before three bowls of cheerios, these two midnight bandits could contain themselves no longer.

“Hey, Mick!” What’s up with your face, man?”  my son inquired, staring at him.

“Yeah…” the other friend chimed in. “You r-e-a-l-l-y need a shave!

Puzzled by their strange remark, Mick jumped up and ran for a mirror.

“Oh man!  You guys!”  Mick remarked while staring at the SUPER stylish, black, handle-bar mustache they’d tattooed onto his upper lip with a permanent marker.  Still shaking his head as he walked away from them, Mick did what he did what he always did in the middle of these sporting events.  He laughed right along with his buddies and then spent the better part of the next week trying to undo whatever the’d done to him!  For self-preservation reasons, Mick learned early in his life , the immeasurable value of having developed a sense of humor.

Unfortunately, life didn’t get any easier for Mick when he headed off to college.  There, he was challenged daily by an unspoken decree which tainted his college campus experience from its chalk boards to its cafeterias:

 “Life doesn’t cater to disabilities…keep up or give up!”

His peers often found themselves too busy investing in their own futures to spare even a few moments in the present to help a struggling classmate.  College professors considered it going too far and beyond the call of duty when asked to wear a small transmitting device around their neck, enabling Mick to hear more easily what was being taught.  I don’t know anyone who ever strained any harder in life just to listen.  Mental exhaustion must have set in after every class session.  Yet…somehow he made it.  Through the ceaseless  prayers of many, Mick more than muddled through, in spite of the level of difficulties he encountered every step of the way.  On Graduation Day, he stood at least a head taller than all those in the auditorium combined, when Staff handed him his hard earned diploma.

If the struggle makes the man, Mick is truly a man among men.  It humbles me still to think of how many times in life he allowed his character to be shaped and honed by the sharpness of the ways of this world…not just whittled away, but, pushed aside.  While still mulling the miracle of Mick’s fortitude over, my walk down Memory Lane ended abruptly with the clashing of another thunder boomer and the sounds of the DJ’s voice coercing the crowds to the edges of the dance floor.  There, in the thick of this mob were Mick and Ellie.  They made their way towards the dance floor, excited to share in their first dance together as man and wife.

“If ever there were such a thing as a perfect moment on earth, this would be the one,” I reflected with a sigh.

The Wedding Dance.  That rare and beautiful moment in a lifetime when two hearts truly find they are beating in perfect unison; each soul is still an unblemished reflection in the other’s eyes, and both are oblivious to the world around them.  The DJ gave his signal and the Bride and Groom’s song-of-choice began to play softly in the background.  I watched the handsome Prince reached an eager hand out to pull his Cinderella closer into his heart.  The multi-faceted disco ball, twirling above their heads, continued spilling endless tiny diamonds of light down onto the dance floor, giving them the illusion of dancing in a corner of a star-filled twilight sky.  I marveled at the fluid motion with which they both moved.  Almost as magical as the love guiding it.  Bending…swaying…every move in sync.  That alone seemed a small miracle to me, considering Mick hadn’t been able to hear the room-rumbling sounds of giant thunder a few moments earlier.  I couldn’t help but wonder, ” How does he dance when he can’t hear the music?

Pondering this question in silence, I thought back to the numerous times I’d seen Mick and Ellie mingling with friends and family throughout the afternoon.  Any time Mick wore a confused look, or doubt overtook his expression, without hesitation, there was his Ellie.  By his side…perched on tip-toes, and speaking into Mick’s ear.  She stepped in to rescue him, to translate for him.  She became his link to the outside world; helping him make sense of what often came across his ears as garbled nonsense.  Out on the dance floor, it was no different.  Again, there was his Ellie.  This time, embracing her beloved…dancing on tip-toes…and whispering into Mick’s ear.  Her lips pressed so tightly up against his ear, I’m sure the rush of her warm whispers must have stirred passions locked in the depths of his soul.  Passions that find expression in a language spoken only by the heart.  Bending, swaying, yielding to the sweet sounds of her voice in complete trust.  I believe in some strange and wonderful way, Mick heard music through his Ellie.  And so….he danced!  His ear, now a spillway for the sounds of her voice, provided a unique and precious bond between the two of them.  Her words became for him love’s own stepping-stones; laying out the perfect pathway for him to discover an ever growing faith in the beauty of who she  was, and more importantly, who he became when he held her in his arms.

Following their every graceful movement across the dance floor, I couldn’t help but notice the sweet sounds of an impromptu melody stirring inside of me.  Softly at first, but growing louder by the minute.  The  harder I tried to dismiss them, the louder they played.  Not just any song…not even an entire song, but the first six words of a favorite old hymn.

“Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sounds…Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sounds…”

“Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sounds,” echoed in the deepest chambers of my heart.  These untimely repetitions refused even to be drowned out  by another succeeding bout of room-rumbling thunder-boomers!  Puzzled at their persistence, I gave in to their sounds.  As I did so, it was almost like the Index Finger of God reached down to connect the final dots in a Heavenly Dot-to-Dot Picture I’d been a part of all along.   Each point drawn with His Passion and Purpose…each defined by the Beauty of His Person, and all of them telling the same Glorious Story of what happens when Heaven meets Earth!  You see, this fairy tale-like moment that so captured my attention on earth was no less than Heaven’s own elaborate and timely display of God’s Grace.  From this untimely song welling up inside of me, soothing the tiniest unseen wound of an apron string cut…to a new Bride’s sweet whispers, shattering the silence in her Husband’s hearing-impaired ear…to God’s Voice thundering in the heavens above, announcing spring showers graciously falling down on parched ground.

A song…a whisper…and splashing rain.  In and of themselves, all of these remain uncommonly common.  But , when God’s Finger is connecting the dots, they render an uncommonly beautiful picture of His Grace unleashed.  For these are the sounds of His Amazing Grace, spilling into the cracks of our multi-fractured world…filling up the empty places in life…pouring out His Something into our nothingness.

Overwhelmed by the  beauty of this thought  (Or should I say, Dot-to-Dot?), my eyes rested again on Mick and Ellie.  I had no desire whatsoever for this moment to ever end, but the DJ already began his process of lowering the volume on the Bride and Groom’s song.  Lower and lower it went until it faded completely away.  The music quit, but Mick and Ellie didn’t.  They continued to dance, never missing a beat.  A puzzled DJ stood there in awkward silence.  The watching crowds around them pointed, shrugged, and came to their own conclusions.

“Mick just can’t hear that there isn’t any music.”

The world has a funny way of placing its own limitations on us just because they fail to see beyond the obvious.  However, I knew differently.  I believed Mick was still hearing music.  Music that the rest of the world couldn’t hear.  Music inspired by the same Voice that resides in the thunder, and now inhabits the whispers  of his Ellie.  Whispers of His Amazing Grace…and Oh, How Sweet the Sounds!  And so, in response, completely swept away, Mick continued to dance.


“My words shall fall upon you like gentle rain and dew, like rain upon the tender grass, like showers on the hillside.”

(Deuteronomy 32:2  LAB)