Will the Circle be Unbroken?

I don’t know exactly what was going on, but at the drop-in and while on outreach last Wednesday something seemed to be up. We saw friend after friend struggling hard. There was a certain heaviness that lay upon the shoulders of each person. I went home feeling burdened and sad.

As I reflected that evening, it occurred to me that many of my interactions ended with my hand being grabbed and usually held against a forehead. I would just stand there peering at the person on front of me, struck by their tears and clear longing for healing and hope, feeling like all I could do was hold on. One person said, “please just hold my hand and sing ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’ before you go”. A few others gathered and agreed. For the next few minutes I sang, struck by the poignant lyrics that seemed to bring to life the inward prayer of many that day.

All I could do last Wednesday was offer my hand and a weepy rendition of a hymn from 1907. The song has been rolling around my head ever since.

I was standing by my window
On one cold and cloudy day
When I saw that hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, Lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
In the sky, Lord, in the sky

I said to that undertaker
Undertaker please drive slow
For this lady you are carrying
Lord, I hate to see her go

Oh, I followed close behind her
Tried to hold up and be brave
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid her in the grave

I went back home, my home was lonesome
Missed my mother, she was gone
All of my brothers, sisters crying
What a home so sad and lone

We sang the songs of childhood
Hymns of faith that made us strong
Ones that mother taught us
Hear the angels sing along

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, Lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
In the sky, Lord, in the sky”

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