I rest me in the thought

A picture of me with my grandfather when I was six

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; His hand the wonders wrought.

My grandfather, James Reynolds Crook, was a Presbyterian minister and I think he had a great vision of God’s hand in the world around him.  When I was small he and my grandmother retired to their mountain house in North Carolina, and many of my best childhood memories are of hiking and picnics with them, being taught the names of plants and things and hearing my grandfather’s deep voice tell me about why it is important to be good stewards of nature.  To a six year old me, that meant not picking wild flowers or leaving trash in the woods and shaking my head at the rusty signs nailed up by “Kenneth J. Foreman and his wife Trustees” in an Appalachian land battle, but Grandaddy was also active in groups that tried to preserve the natural beauty of the mountains.  He loved the hymn “This is My Father’s World” quoted above and I think he really did have an eye for seeing God at work in nature.

Once when I was visiting, Grandaddy listened to me say my bedtime prayers, in which I childishly said something like, “God, if you can, please help it stop raining.”  Grandaddy stopped me right there and with great conviction, in his Southern gentleman’s accent that is neither hick nor effeminate, but smooth and rich and reassuring, he said, “God does not help the weather.  God speaks and it is so.”  That made a big impact on me, both in how I understood prayer and how I understood the way God works in the world.

I have so many great memories of my grandfather: like the summer when I was there for 4th of July and he worked it out so I could twirl my baton in the parade, or the time he built me a beautiful bed and trunk for my American Girl doll that are so much better than what they sold in the catalog, or how he used to love to eat cinammon raisin toast for breakfast and called my grandmother “Sugar.”

He died this morning at the age of 91.  A country song keeps playing in my head today (have you noticed that, apart from the Psalms, country and rap are the musical genres that allow for honest talk about loss and redemption?  I’m not sure why that is) and I like the sentiment.

When I get where I’m going there’ll be only happy tears.

I’ll shed these sins and struggles I have carried all these years…

I’m going to walk with my grandaddy, and he’ll match me step for step,

And I’ll tell him how I missed him every minute since he left…

I’m so glad that Grandaddy is home with God now, but it seems strange to think of the world without him here.  Even though I live far away and only saw him on brief visits the past few years, I miss him.  I’m sad to think that I won’t see him or talk to him again in this life.  But when I do see him again, I’m glad that it will be in Heaven where he will be healthy and strong again, and I know I’ll love to hear his voice singing praise to God.

We have a picture of Grandaddy from when he was a toddler.  He had big eyes and blonde curls like Jack does.  I bet his mother felt about him like I feel about my own little boy and I think about how short this life really is.  It makes me want to live more deliberately and take joy in creation like my grandfather did.

This is my Father’s world.  O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft’ so strong, God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world: the battle is not won:

Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and Heaven be one.

My grandparents on my wedding day in 2003

16 thoughts on “I rest me in the thought

  1. Catherine, I am so very sorry for your loss, but I rejoice with you that he is now with Jesus. Praying for comfort and peace for you and all your family, but especially your grandmother.

  2. I’m totally crying and I didn’t know your grandfather–and I’m not really a crier, either. What a beautiful tribute! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Dear Catherine: I am so sorry to hear of your grandfather’s passing but so happy he is home with the Lord, where tears, pain and struggles are no more. I don’t know if you have ever lost someone close to you before. I miss my parents still every single day, and I can’t sing a joyous hymn in church without wondering what they are singing around the mercy seat. But I still feel the love they have for me all the time; that has never diminished. It’s a wonderful blessing and you will know it, too. You will still feel how much your grandfather loves you and how proud he is of you; that will never fade.

    And someday, he will match you step for step as you walk the streets of gold. Thinking of you and praying for you today,
    El

  4. My heart is heavy for you today. I know the deep pain of losing a grandparent. Just last Thursday we remembered the final day of my dad’s mother, whose house we live in now. I am so glad that you have such wonderful memories of him that will carry you through the rest of your time on Earth. There’s a wonderful country song that I think about when I am remembering loved ones….I’ll Wait for You. One verse goes “I’ll wait for you at Heaven’s gate. I dont’ care how long it takes. I’ll tell Saint Pete I can’t go in without my love and my best friend”. It’s a wife’s last words to her husband, and I know that even though it doesn’t match your situation exactly, he will be waiting for at Heaven’s gate. Praying for you and your entire family.

  5. I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Catherine. What a strong, Christian legacy he left for you! His words, “He speaks and it is so” sent chills up and down my spine. I pray that I can leave a legacy like that for my children and grandchildren. What a blessing to know he’s in heaven. I will pray that many more of those comforting memories can be yours in the next few days.

  6. Catherine, I’m so sorry to read that your grandfather is gone. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I’m sure he’d be happy to know that you were so touched by his life and loved him so much. It’s lovely to see how effectively and beautifully your memory of him will sustain his legacy through your own children.
    Hang in there. I know you must be so sad right now.
    A big hug,
    Dina

  7. Catherine,
    I am so sorry for you loss. It is so hard to lose a grandparent, even if you know they are no longer in pain. I pray the Lord will bring you and your family comfort during your time of loss.
    Love,
    Blair

  8. I’m so sorry to hear of your grandfather’s death. He sounded like an amazing person and you are so blessed to have had such a godly grandparent. I’m glad you have so many wonderful memories.

  9. Catherine, you brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. My grandfather is 97, and I know his days on earth are nearing their end – it really is the little things like the sound of a voice that can mean so much to a child and then an adult. I try to remember that in my mothering too. 🙂

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