As many of you may know, my dad passed away very suddenly when I saw ten years old. At the funeral, the cantor sang a popular Catholic hymn, “On Eagle’s Wings.”
He will raise you up on eagle’s wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.
Beautiful sentiments, but for the past 16 years I have associated this song with my dad’s passing. I know what number the song is in the hymnal book. When I see that number on the board in the beginning of Mass, I truly can’t concentrate on anything other than preparing myself to hear it (usually after Communion). Even with nearly an hour of preparation, there hasn’t been one single time that I haven’t had to leave the church when the choir begins the sing it.
So, imagine the self restraint I had to muster when, after receiving the Eucharist the first day I was in the hospital, Sister starts in on an a cappella rendition of the hymn. Not only was I hospitalized for the first time in my entire life, but now I have a nun standing over my bed singing the song I most closely associate with death. After I thanked her for visiting me and she stepped out of the room, I had my first real cry since being admitted.
This series of events became a daily ritual—Eucharist, “On Eagle’s Wings,” breakdown.
I don’t believe in coincidence. So, the longer this went on, the more theories I had about what I was supposed to be gleaning from it, most of which are too dark or paranoid to detail here.
Last weekend one of my best friends and her mother came to visit me. Among tons of other goodies, they brought me a daily devotional book entirely based on Psalms 91. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not as familiar with the Bible as a good Catholic girl should be. Turns out, the lyrics of “On Eagle’s Wings” are basically a rephrasing of Psalms 91. (Told you—no such thing as coincidence.)
1You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
2Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”
3He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,
from the destroying plague,
4He will shelter you with his pinions,
and under his wings you may take refuge;
his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
5You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
nor the plague that ravages at noon.
7Though a thousand fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
near you it shall not come.
8You need simply watch;
the punishment of the wicked you will see.
9Because you have the Lord for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
10No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
11For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
12With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone…
The more I’ve meditated on these words, the more I understand that this song is not about death or even what happens after death. It’s about the wonderful ways God blesses us when we trust Him.
It seems so simple. Just trust that everything will happen as God intends it…But I’m a planner. I like to know what my day is going to look like. I like to know when things will happen. I like to have control over myself and my surroundings.
Hospital life is NOT like that. From the little things, like what’s for lunch, to the bigger issues, like when I’ll be going home, nothing is in my immediate control. And sometimes in the hospital, that lack of control makes the small things seem so much bigger. I’ll admit it—I’ve cried over hospital food recently.
So, over the past week I’ve been really trying to just trust that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to. I’m not very good at it, but I’m trying. I’ve even stopped crying after Sister sings “On Eagle’s Wings.” I’m almost starting to find strength in the song. Almost because it takes more than a week to retrain your brain about something that’s been such a strong stigma for so many years. But I’m getting there.
I’m trying to trust that this experience as something that will make our little family closer, stronger, and more faithful.
Thank you again for all the prayers that have been pouring in (and up)! Keep them coming, please! I think they might be working, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ll have more updates about all the fun lab results and tests soon!