Darrell Klaver has been playing organ and piano at Community Church of Kamrar, Iowa for decades. CCoK is my wife’s “home church” (where she grew up and where her family still worships). It is a small but mighty church in the exact middle of nowhere.
I think I used to smile and chuckle a little bit in an “isn’t that quaint” fashion at Darrell’s extremely skilled, if a bit melodramatic, organ playing that reminded me of a turn-of-the-century silent film accompaniment. (Yes, an extremely arrogant judgement, and no, I’ve never seen a silent film.)
Darrell is in his mid-eighties, a very recent widower, and currently lives in the same assisted living facility that my grandfather does. This is where we encountered him tonight while paying Grandpa a visit on Kate’s first birthday.
Nancy asked Darrell how he’s been and he replied, “Not too well.’ Suffering from the same medical and emotional conditions any eighty-something recent widower who is all alone except for the occasional visit from family members would. He was also recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, though, “My hands are holding up so far.” He had also returned from the funeral of a longtime friend and fellow CCoK member who recently died of sudden and rapid cancer, just an hour prior.
Darrell was delighted to see Kate and and talk for awhile with Nancy. We asked if maybe he could play a few songs on the small Kurzweil keyboard in the sitting room. He quietly obliged. We went on with our visit with Grandpa.
After a few minutes I started recognizing the hymns he was playing. Majesty, The Old Rugged Cross, and What a Friend We Have In Jesus. I struggled a bit to hold back tears (which are coming back as I recount the scene). I took the above picture quickly and at a distance because I lacked the courage to explain the tears should he ask, and I didn’t want to disturb his beautiful playing.
This man, back from a funeral visitation, recently widowed, alone in a nursing home, newly diagnosed with a chronic, degenerative illness, and what was coming out of his heart?
Majesty, worship his majesty;
Unto Jesus be all glory, honor, and praise.
Majesty, kingdom authority,
Flow from his throne unto his own, his anthem raise.
So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus.
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus, the King.
Majesty, worship his majesty,
Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
and my personal favorite
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
He finished with a rather rousing rendition of “God Bless America”, quietly got up, shut the keyboard off, and headed back to his room. We managed to catch him to thank him and share some birthday cupcakes with him.
I wept because I realized my pride in scoffing at his playing for years. True I loved him and appreciated him and his faithful service to that church, just didn’t think much of the music. What a fool I am. This man is ten times the worship leader I am.
I pray that when I am in his position, my heart will be in the same place. Thank you Darrell for your example. I’ll be sharing this with you next time I see you. If I’m able.