The saga of Mr. Walker continues. In case you missed parts 1 and 2, here they are:
There was much rejoicing when four weeks later Mr. Walker showed up for rehearsal. He was in a wheelchair and looked pale and haggard, but his spirit shone through. And though some members boldly insisted that “God’s not finished yet!” he was deeply grateful for the use of his arms and declared that, God willing, he would be conducting the Messiah on Christmas Eve. The announcement brought a standing ovation, whether for Mr. Walker, God, or both, and among the sopranos there were a few tears shed.
He proceeded to carry on the rehearsal as though he had never been away, and soon Liz could see the fire in his eyes as he led them in Handel’s magnificent tribute to his God. She could imagine the composer smiling to see such dedication and oneness with his music. There were moments when it seemed the director would rise right out of the wheelchair -indeed, everyone hoped that he would – yet the conducting continued from the humble position of the paraplegic, and to Liz, the chair seemed to mock his name.
Rehearsals with full orchestra began in mid-December, and the choir was treated to the solos that had been practiced separately up to that point. Undoubtedly Beverly’s was the most moving. Although she had a score in front of her, she never so much as glanced at the notes; likewise, her husband conducted by heart, sometimes with eyes closed in near ecstasy, other times looking deeply and passionately into his wife’s eyes as she sang:
“I know that my Redeemer liveth…”
Their faces reflected the peace of undaunted faith. To watch and listen to this couple was an inspiration. One could sense the many years they had spent growing together in knowledge and trust of God, and that they fully expected to continue doing so right into eternity.
I hope Sean and I will be like them someday, Liz thought.
When Beverly finished her solo, the silence that followed was profound. Every soul in the room had been elevated to a higher level. Such is the effect of true faith on those around it.
Almost equally moving was Gordon Mayfield’s singing of “Comfort Ye My People.” The young man had an excellent, well-trained voice, and of course the solo exuded peace, a rare commodity as the Christmas season approached with all the secular distractions the world had created to pollute it. With the added stress of the recent accident, a moment of serenity was a welcome relief.
It was during the second rehearsal after Mr. Walker had returned that Liz was enjoying Gordon’s singing with her eyes closed and a peaceful smile on her face.
Suddenly she was startled out of her reverie by the sound of a collective gasp from the other choir members. Gordon stopped singing, and Liz opened her eyes to see a disturbing sight.
Mr. Walker was slumped back in his chair, his body shaking convulsively, his eyes rolling back in his head. Dr. Peterson had already leapt off the platform and ordered for someone to call 911. Beverly flew to her husband’s side, musicians began moving their instruments to clear a space, and most of the choir sat in shocked silence. Liz felt as though she were going to be sick.
The next few moments were a blur; Dr. Peterson’s orders were mingled with Beverly’s soothing words of encouragement, others’ sobs, and eventually the wail of sirens. In spite of the rapid dialogue between the doctor and the paramedics, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, until Mr. Walker was finally taken away, with Beverly and a few close friends following. As the flashing lights of the ambulance flickered through the windows, and the siren’s melancholy cry faded into the night, Liz dreaded the heated controversy that she expected to follow.
But there was no theological debate, no arguing, no proud declarations. There were prayers, and there were tears, and people who had recently barely spoken to one another now sat quietly, nonjudgmental, heads bowed and hands clasped in unity. Beside the cluster of music stands, a group of musicians stood in a huddle, arms around one another, and one was softly leading in a prayer. A few others pretended to busy themselves with cleaning and putting away their instruments, but Liz noticed the awkward looks on their faces. These were people she did not recognize; they were not members of the church, but professional musicians that had been hired to fill in the gaps. Liz couldn’t help wondering what was going on in their minds. Did they know the Lord at all? If not, what opinions were they forming about how He took care of His own? She found that she herself was unsure what she believed, and sitting in the midst of the emotional chaos, she suddenly felt confused and vulnerable. Looking down, she fidgeted with the pages of the musical score in her lap. One large tear splashed onto the cover. A moment later she felt a strong, warm hand on her shoulder, and a familiar voice gently asked, “You OK, Liz?”
“…I’m not sure …” she stammered in a choked voice, not looking up. Sean knelt beside her chair, lifted her chin, and looked into her eyes.
“He’s going to be OK … either way. We know that, don’t we?”
Liz nodded, then gratefully accepted her fiancé’s embrace and sobbed on his shoulder.
* * * * * * * * * *
For the next few days the prayer chain kept the phone lines busy, keeping one another updated on Mr. Walker’s progress. After just two days in the hospital, he was sent home with medication to control the seizures, Although there were those who believed that “perfect healing” was on its way and that medication was an unnecessary distraction, they had the decency not to be too vocal in their opinions, and most were grateful for any kind of answer to their prayers.
It looked as though Mr. Walker would be conducting the Christmas Eve service after all.
(to be continued …)