Sing a New Song

“The old song of my spirit has wearied itself out.  It has long ago been learned by heart so that now it repeats itself over and over, bringing no added joy to my days or lift to my spirit. It is a good song, measured to a rhythm to which I am bound by ties of habit and spirit and timidity . . . But my life has passed beyond to other levels where the old song is meaningless.  I demand of the old song that it meet the need of present urgencies. Also, I know that the work of the old song, perfect in its place, is not for the new demand!

I will sing a new song. As difficult as it is, I must learn the new song that is capable of meeting the new need. I must fashion new words born of all the new growth of my life, my mind and my spirit. I must prepare for new melodies that have never been mine before, that all that is within me may lift my voice unto God . . .

I will sing, this day, a new song unto Thee, O God” (Howard Thurman).

I have attempted to write a blog for months now, based on this beautiful quote by Howard Thurman, a quote which has changed my thought processes, my ambition, my comfort level with myself and my relationships with friends and family.

After an 8-year battle with multiple myeloma (a rare blood cancer) and the death of my husband for whom I was a caregiver for many years, I emerged battle-scarred, exhausted, and cognizant that cancer w1ll win the battle whenever this second type of chemo stops working. I realize that I need to “learn the new song that is capable of meeting the new need.”

That learning process mostly involved accepting that my life was special to God and to my family and friends even though I am incapable of the type of service to others that  had been my life’s work and passion.

I had been a teacher of one sort or another for all of those forty years. I had written and had published books for new readers. I had been written for and been editor at my denomination’s magazine. I had founded adult literacy programs in every city that I lived in. I had been certified as a substance abuse counselor – a long-time goal that I never used because  years of work with a great counselor helped me see that my tendency to  enable would be detrimental not only to my own life, but also to those I wanted to serve.

I had retired from a 10- year career as as a senior manager with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Michigan Chapter so that I could fulfill my need and desire to study spiritual formation. This  led to my final career as Director of Spiritual Formation for a very large church.  (You can find an accounting of some of these adventures in the My Journey section of this blog).

My cancer and the constant attempt to gain remission – and stay there – took and still take  time and energy. But my hardest battle has been with the guilt of no longer being a “helper.” Instead I was the one needing help. What value did I have to give the world? And was it worth living if I couldn’t be a helper?  Howard Thurman’s beautiful writing helped me find “new words,” “new growth” and “new melodies.”

My new life is very quiet, filled with books and magazines and TV shows of all stripes and topics.  I can no longer drive; moving without my walker is very dangerous. My mind, which for years was involved in planning and organizing and evaluating and training, is now focused on using all those gifts so I can live alone as long as possible. I enjoy the visits of my friends and am grateful for their help and that of my son and his family.  I’m surprised and excited every month when new readers become followers of this blog which I  rarely update.  Once in a while during a calm and quiet day, I still relapse and apologize to God for no long being active and helpful in his kingdom. I know that’s not really true and that God wants no apologies  – and I continue on with my quiet life.

Recently I (and my friends and family) have learned that this particular cancer as well as the constant chemotherapy are taking their toll on my cognitive functioning.  Perhaps I will never be able to write a blog post again. But most days, I read Howard Thurman’s words posted on my refrigerator and am grateful that I can  sing, this day, a new song unto Thee, O God.”

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18 Responses to Sing a New Song

  1. Jenny says:

    I am a new follower of yours on LinkedIn! I enjoyed your writing for Words of Hope and found your wonderful writing here too! You continue to inspire even as you sing this new song! May the holy spirit continue to lift you up.

  2. Jo says:


  3. Nevine says:

    Hi, I am writing in response to your statement, “Perhaps I will never write a blog post again.” Would like to let you know that I always waited eagerly for your posts. I always enjoyed your quotes of other writers whose writings inspired you, and enlightened your life in any way. I was always grateful that you passed on these quotes, so others can benefit from. I pray you continue to write your posts. I would also like to share with you a story about a woman who used to memorize many hymns, and during the last phase of her life with Alzheimer’s, the only word she could remember and utter was “HIM!” To God be all the glory! Amen.

    • What a blessing you are! Thanks for the encouragement. I will continue to send my quotes . . . and maybe try again with my own thoughts. What a delightful story about the woman with Alzheimer’s. I will remember that!!!

  4. Barbara Steen says:

    Love it. I recognized the voice of HT after the first few phrases. ❤️

  5. Donna Shelton says:

    I remain thankful for all that you taught me as we shared Adult Literacy in Lapeer. Today I use all of those skills as an active member of two important volunteer efforts. I am a volunteer counselor in the state health insurance program for neutral advising called MMAP and I am a member of the Community Mental Health Board of Directors.

    Overseeing my mother’s care these six years at a local long term care facility would have been so much more difficult without your lessons in persistence.
    You are in my prayers.

    Donna Shelton

  6. Norma Hook says:

    Karen. You have been singing a wonderful song for many years. Your work and writing will always live on. Thank you for the writings that I have enjoyed and used in my neighborhood studies. Blessings to you as you relax, read and enjoy your family and friends.

  7. Lupe says:

    Dear precious Sister in Christ Jesus; your words have touched my heart and spirit. Recently coming across your blog was no accident; my journey towards doing less is progressing and you have encouraged me. No doubt you will hear well done my good and faithfully one from our Abba Father.🙌🏽

  8. Susan says:

    I wonder if all your years of caring for others was actually preparation for this time when you would need to care deeply for yourself. I am so grateful for your blog! Your love and sincerely have ministered to me. Thank you!

  9. Nancy Boote says:

    Continue singing a new song, Karen! You are a blessing! Thank you for your Words of Hope devotionals too. They blessed me!

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