Beneath the circular stained glass window of the First Presbyterian Church sits a pipe organ not only of enormous size, but enormous renown. I would know nothing of it if not for my grandma. She spoke of it many times, but it was not until she died that I finally got to see it. I first laid my eyes on it at her funeral. Before then, I had been dreading the deep, depressing sounds of the slow, sad tunes. Then I met the organist. He was an old friend of my grandma's, seeing her every Sunday when she would come before church just to hear the organ while he practiced.
The organist played me bits from a few songs by her favorite composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. The light tones coming from the organ were unexpected. Seeing and hearing him play, I began to realize what my grandma had known all along. Beauty can be found in unexpected places. As I mingled with my grandma's longtime friends, the organ continued to play and I continued to see everything in a different light. The stained glass windows, though it was overcast on that cold December morning, showed off colors so lovely I couldn't help but stare.
In the church nursery, my younger cousins played before they had to sit still and be good. I had wandered in, exploring my way around the church. My mom, with her ever-present camera, asked for a picture of my aunt and me because our black outfits were almost identical. I noticed how weird it was to smile. A part of me felt like I shouldn't, but I knew in my heart she would want me to smile and be happy that I had such a loving family. To this day, it is one of my favorite pictures, not because I look particularly pretty in my black sweater and skirt, but because I know I overcame a great deal that day and I am beautiful because of it. I overcame my fear of public speaking to tell everyone how much she meant to me, but I also overcame my fear of death and funerals. Each has its own beauty about it, regardless of the sadness and loss felt.
Even the mahogany urn in which her ashes were placed revealed a beauty I would not have expected. Surrounded by roses and engraved with her name, it was the center stage and encompassed all the love and beauty she had shown over the years. I might have been the only one to see it that way, but it is important to me all the same.