Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Lullabies

I have always loved being sung to sleep.

When I was a little girl, it was my mom’s voice as she rocked me to sleep. My head tucked under her chin and against her chest, lanky legs sprawled across her lap and over the sharp corner of the wooden plank rocking chair’s arm. I could hear her heart beating, its endless rhythm and her sweet soprano lulling me into slumber. This was peace and this was a safe haven.

As I grew older and far too big to rock, I still craved the soothing and consistent notes that would help me drift away to sleep. There was the Fisher Price record player on Irving Street, tucked into the corner of the plain wooden dresser by my bed that played Neil Diamond and the Wizard of Oz soundtrack. In my dormer room on Hillsborough Road, there was a giant silver portable tape deck from which Amy Grant or New Kids on the Block {depending on my adolescent mood and the current level of emotional angst} might sing over me. It was in these years that our family was introduced to Michael Card and his gentle, truth-laden songs. Despite that it says it is an album of lullabies for babies and there was nary a baby to be found in our house, “Sleep Sound in Jesus” was on repeat many a night.

But the years I remember the most, the consistent stream of nights where music was essential, were in high school. I had somehow managed to acquire the Sony portable CD player for my room and my room alone. It had a special place on the bookshelf by my dressing table and every night I would slide a CD into the top before bed. I knew just how many times to push the “repeat” button so that the exact tracks I wanted would play. “Sleep Sound in Jesus” was still a favorite then. I would resist drifting off until I heard the closing words of the Barocha, “…and give you peace forever.” And then sleep would come.

To this day, I don’t remember how I was introduced to Mary Chapin Carpenter. Perhaps my mom purchased the CD and I promptly claimed it for my own. You wouldn’t believe how many times that happened. However I found it, her music captured me. Her mellow alto a calming and familiar voice that resonated with the torrent of teenage emotions swirling through me. When I was heartbroken, only track number twelve would do…

“Baby, where’s that place where time stands still?
Is it under glass inside a frame?
Was it over when you had your fill?

Here we are with nothing but this emptiness inside of us
Your smile fitting final gesture,
Wish I could’ve loved you better

Baby, where’s that place where time stood still?
I remember like a lover can
I forget it like a leaver will

It’s the first time that you held my hand
It’s the smell and the taste and the fear and the thrill
It’s everything I understand and all the things I never will

I didn’t know at sixteen, at seventeen, all that she meant. But there was something deep down inside me, in the midst of that heartbreak, that clung to those words- it was everything I understood and all the things I never will.

Sixteen years later, I still love that song. And I still love being sung to sleep. I married a man who likes to be sung to sleep, too. When I came to bed last night, he was soothing himself after a disappointing Vols basketball loss with the DVD of a James Taylor concert. Oh, James Taylor! Talk about everything that is good and soothing and home. I crawled into bed and we listened to the sweet simplicity of his song.  We let those gentle guitar plucks wash over us and wash away the worry and the regrets of the day.

And then Jason prayed.

And we slept.

3 comments:

  1. Well look at you! Glad you're back- we're in the middle of the same mess you were in last semester with politics and silliness at school.

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  2. yay! you're back! we love our leslie! :)

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  3. Beautiful. And, this is why we keep coming back for more. ;-)

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