She “sings”. She scats. She hums.
Almost all the time.
Mostly babble. Recognizable tunes here and there.
She sings when she’s happy and when she’s distressed. She sings during her therapy and has to be shushed. She sings in the middle of the night. “I call to remembrance my song in the night…” Ps. 77: 6.
I know. I can hear the experts. It’s a vocal stim. Meaningless, autistic babble. To me, it’s the gentle music of a sweet voice (well, o.k. not so much in the middle of the night). But there was a time when she was completely silent. Now I like to hear the song in her heart.
I only wish I knew the words to her songs.
My father is an old Georgia preacher. In the small church he grew up in, the old folks had a tradition called “lining a hymn.” I believe the practice was carried over from slavery days and was intended to serve those who could not read.
Sitting in the old country church of hard wooden pews and no air-conditioning, I can still hear the moving, harmonious sounds of worship in my ears (and the flapping of cardboard fans from the local funeral home). An elderly deacon would stand and sing, in a deep tenor, one or two lines at a time of a hymn or Negro spiritual. Pass me not, O Gentle Savior… Hear my humble cry… The church members would collectively sing the melody back, line for line. Then the deacon would hum. Whatever he intoned, they intoned back.
There was repetition and call-and-response. No piano. No drums. The raised voices and the stomping feet made the music. For long periods of time, there were no words. Only deep, heartfelt humming and moaning offered up to a sovereign God. A sacrifice of praise. With all the meaning in the world.
Sometimes I think she is lining a hymn for me. (I need not know the words.) Reminding me, prompting me to sing.
Because I had almost lost my song.
But when I sing, my anthem comes back to me: Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2
A nonverbal girl. A simple song. An amazing God.