Gott ist die Liebe

Gott ist die Liebe

letter G

Easter week has begun and I thought it would be apropos to write my “G” post with that in mind. There is no other time of the year like Easter – the Passover Lamb, new birth, new life.

Bare with me as a travel back in time for a moment to one of the hardest jobs I ever loved.

When I worked as a nurse’s aide in the Lutheran Home for the Aged during my young adult years, the non-ambulatory residents often sat in wheelchairs in the hallway after lunch. It was a way to get them out of their rooms and to be around others. Most of them could no longer communicate except in grunts. What we then called senility had strangled away their thoughts and ability to speak. Most of them couldn’t sit up by themselves without some support.  Most were non-alert and oblivious to the activity and flurry around them. We did our best to make them presentable then draped lap robes around them for modesty and warmth. For the most part, they just hung their heads and dozed.

I remember one particular female resident who no longer spoke real words. She mumbled or grunted. Her sight and hearing were feeble. There was nothing beautiful about her physically. Her gray hair grew in patches. Brown spots pocked her skin. She couldn’t manage dentures. She drooled. No, there was nothing attractive or lovely about her by worldly standards.

But, she could sing. Daily, she rocked to and fro in her wheelchair and haltingly sang a German hymn: Gott ist die Liebe. Gott ist die Liebe.

Her quavering soprano voice was a contrast to the droning clutter of boredom within the hall. I was unfamiliar with that hymn as I wasn’t Lutheran and I didn’t speak German so I asked a nurse if she knew what the words were. She said, “God is love or God loves me or something like that.”

Then we carried on with our duties.

Because I was  young and drawn to popular cultural music with a little more kick to it, I didn’t appreciate the richness of hymns, their historical value, and the depth of their theology. My faith had not yet been tested. And I had a few chips on my shoulder. Young people often do.

Nevertheless, I will never forget this woman’s steadfast faith. Here was a broken woman who had forgotten even her own name. But, she remembered that God loves her dearly. She hadn’t forgotten the one thing that mattered. At one time, she had been a wife, a mother, maybe a teacher, or an artist. That identity was a lost memory – unimportant now. All that mattered was that God loved her. That was the one memory that remained embedded inside her aging brain.

I had forgotten all about her for a few decades. Then, years later, during a turbulent time of my life, these broken lyrics popped into my head and I held onto them because it was all I could do at the time.

I just wish I could remember the name of woman who touched me and taught me even while Alzheimer’s stole her voice and memories.

Have a blessed Easter.

Here are the lyrics:

God loves me dearly by August Rische (1819-1906)

God loves me dearly
Grants me salvation,
God loves me dearly,
Loves even me.
Therefore I’ll say again:
God loves me dearly,
God loves me dearly,
Loves even me.

I was in slav’ry,
Sin, death, and darkness;
God’s love was working
To make me free.
He sent forth Jesus,
My dear Redeemer,
He sent forth Jesus
And set me free.
Jesus, my Saviour,
Himself did offer;
Jesus, my Saviour,
Paid all I owed.
Now I will praise You,
O Love Eternal;
Now I will praise You
All my life long.


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