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Monday, April 27, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

The violinist soothed us with soft melodies as we lazily wandered by,
dropping a bill into his crumpled hat tossed on wharf’s edge. Others stopped
to ponder his rendition. Soon a semicircle enclosed his offering to
evening's sky. Dusk began cautiously to settle down upon us.

We had spent our usual lingering in the metro's public gardens laden with
exotic rose bushes and winding walkways laid in order years ago.
Children, playing tag, dodged about our feet. Young parents pushed their
baby strollers, nodding pleasant greetings.

Halifax in any season is sheer delight—from downtown churches to
museums and ice cream stands perched near water's rim. Usual
tourist types gawked about as city dwellers wove in and out of
traffic, running their shopping errands.

We were particularly blessed in beginning our day at Peggy's Cove, climbing
over stark rock formations, then buying a choice, delicate bone china cup and
saucer from a nearby gift shop. From there we drove past cottages tucked
away, picturesquely dotting their paintbrush intrusions into trees and
bushes alongside water's keeping.

Traveling from that famous lighthouse site to city's heart was our
pleasurable intent. Doing so year after year, we have never been

So it was that while making a turn when walking that Nova Scotian wharf, we
spied a woman dressed in scanty shawl, drab clothing and scruffy
sneakers. She played her accordion as if the only person breathing.
Her gaze into the crowd was glazed, appearing not to see us at all.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once
was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. . ."

I stopped. I was riveted. I was going to drink this in with whole soul.
After all, happily stunned, I had just come upon an unexpected treasure. And I know one when I see one. No way had I dreamt I would close out a vacationing day with such inspiring surprise handed me on an evening's platter.

I looked into her eyes. I studied her worn face. I etched into my mind's
sketch pad her profile, her leaning against the old shingled wall of an
abandoned shack, then opened my ear doors as wide as possible.

"’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed!"

"Thank you, Jesus," I exclaimed within. Whew! Am I among the fortunate, or

Scripture warns us to note the angels attending us, though we usually
don't give that divine promise a passing thought from one hour to the next.
So cupped inside her gentle singing, I had to recall an angel's place among us.

I concluded one indeed had gifted us with a hymn of mercy. With that, my typically curious mind flicked off all sorts of questions: How did she come to know Jesus, when, what were the ins-and-outs, and what wonder had He presented her recently?

Yet such was out of order. I was not to query her. Instead, I was to admire her
witness and so thank heaven for her simply being there—unadorned except
for her divine message of hope.

"Thank you, Jesus."