It isn't often a dying man leads us in song. Last night was special.
Last night The Salvation Army's National Capital Band played at Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church (GPC). James B. Anderson directed his thirty talented band members. This was the second year the band played a hymn sing just prior to the church's annual Chili Dinner.
Earlier in the day, I asked Ann Schmidt, GPC's director of music, if this would become an annual event. Ann didn't know. She said the director had cancer and doctors had given him only 3 months to live. That was in July.
Last night, I listened and watched James Anderson as he joyfully directed the young musicians. From time to time, Anderson recited lyrics or told us background information about the Salvation Army's origins. His lyrical Scottish accent had a music all its own. He never mentioned he was dying. Joy filled his face and energized his movements.
I was impressed.
If I had only a few months to live, would I be conducting a concert? Not likely. But then that isn't an activity for which I have either an interest or talent. Anderson's face and mannerisms showed he loved what he was doing and the people he was with in the moments we shared last night.
After the benediction, Anderson asked his band to play one last song. I didn't catch the title but the lyrics, "Until we meet again," set me to wondering who among us would gather beneath the beautiful oak ceilings at GPC in the coming year. Several members were struggling with health issues. Some people were likely to move. Who knew what the year would bring?
Whatever the year may bring, I hope to live as joyfully as Anderson, as far as I am able. Each day is a gift we share with others. Anderson never said this in so many words. He lives it and will each borrowed day . . . "until we meet again."
How about you? What would you do if you had only 3 more months to live?