Saturday, November 29, 2008

THE LAST SONG. . . or BOOK. . . .

Like many people, I was deeply moved by Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008) and his September 18, 2007 "last lecture" given before a packed university auditorium. In his intimate presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch, a terminal cancer patient facing his final days, used his own life lessons and experiences to advise students on how they could also achieve their own career and personal goals.

The other day, as I was preparing the stuffing for the next day's Thanksgiving bird, I was listening to one of my all time favorite Cds, "Peace Like A River" by the Tabernacle Choir. I got chills and my eyes teared, as they frequently do it seems. It was the words, the magnificent, inspiring words that touched me so deeply, and I thought, morosely perhaps, that this CD embodied the themes I would want to leave with my loved ones as my "last lecture"--love God, love each other, have faith, be grateful, and let His peace distill over you no matter the circumstances.

I loved these words and the gentle, peace-giving melody: "So if you're worried and you can't sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you'll fall asleep counting your blessings." How wonderful is that bit of advice?

And how about this to give you courage under fire? "I have faith like a river. . . I have love like a river. . . I have peace like a river. . ." Who can stop such powerful love, faith and peace as that? That's what I'd like to leave for my loved ones as part of my last lecture.

There are so many wonderful messages that can inspire and give comfort, speaking the words we would want to say when we can't be there in person to say them. So I want to teach these songs to my grandchildren and play them often in my home when my kids come back, so these words will echo in their heads when we're apart. Imagine how comforting it would be for a college student or a missionary to carry Mom or Dad's favorite tune in his or her head? Or a passage of inspiring quotes from scripture or a great book? These are the jewels I want to begin dropping along my path, in hopes that a few might be picked up and carried on by those I love.

So what songs have touched your life? Play them often so anyone who passes your doorway will associate them with you. Jot down passages of tender scripture or thought-provoking passages from good books and post them on your fridge or on the bathroom mirror to bring peace to those you love.

And may we each count our blessings instead of sheep. . .


  1. What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Music has the power to convey great spiritual sermons which words cannot find. The hymns "I Believe In Christ" and "The Spirit of God" always move me to tears, and will be songs I hope my children will carry in their hearts.

  2. Two of my favorites as well. Thanks for sharing your musical inspirations.

  3. I watched the 20/20 episode *or was it Dateline?* about 'The Last Lecture' and took notes on what he said. I was sad to hear of his passing, even though I knew it was inevitable. He just seemed like a beacon of light, wanting to share the little things that end up being the most important, and make sure everyone understood them.
    It is amazing how music touches people-especially those that you may not be able to normally reach. I need to find a good copy of 'I heard him come' so I can play that around my home. It's one of my favs. I also like the music from the Forgotten Carols *which I have on cassette and can't find an original version of the CD*

  4. It's been my experience that people facing their own mortality are often more able to discern the important from the unimportant. Perhaps it was always Professor Pausch's talent. That gift of discernment is always ours, I think, if we choose to exercise it, but something changes in our natures as we draw closer to God.

    Have you tried eBay to find "The Forgotten Carols"? I've seen that CD floating around at random book stores as I been signing this year. I know the Liahona book store in Atlanta had it.

  5. Wonderful post! A few of my favorites are The Battle Hymn of the Republic (I always tear up), Come, Come Ye Saints, and Love is Spoken Here (sung by the Primary).
    About a year ago, my son forwarded me The Last Lecture because he was so impressed. Professor Pausch touch many by the way he lived and the way he died.

  6. Sister Lewis! I love your blog! I just discovered it. I love listening to Jason play the piano whether it be something he wrote or an arrangement of a hymn because I feel the spirt so strongly when he plays. I know that he has been given a beautiful gift and when he plays I feel closer to Heavenly Father.