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How Can I Keep From Singing?


By Gregory Kepferle
CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and President, Charities Housing Development Corporation

When I was a child, Dad and Mom would pile all of us kids in the station wagon for a Sunday afternoon drive in the country with Dad entertaining us by singing cowboy songs along the way. This past month my Dad turned 90.Thankfully he is in better shape than I am. He walks three miles a day, square dances and ballroom dances. I can hardly reach him because his social calendar is so full. When I get the chance to visit, invariably he is whistling or singing as he goes about his household tasks. It’s as natural as breathing. He inspired my love of singing.

Given the uncertain state of the country and scary state of the world, sometimes it may seem like there is not much to sing about. Yet this is precisely the time when songs are most important. “No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that Rock I’m clinging, since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?” The refrain of the old Baptist hymn by Robert Wadsworth Lowry turned into folk anthem and Quaker hymn still resonates today. Howard Thurman invites us “to make music in the heart” as the work of Christmas, even as we work “to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, and to bring peace among others.”

This is the joy of the Gospel that Pope Francis writes about. We bring good news to those who are poor, not as grim do-gooders, but as joyful ambassadors of a servant-king who sings us into being. Yes, this takes hard work. Yes, we witness suffering and pain that we cannot always heal. But, yes, there is also joy in sharing our best gifts and skills with those who need us the most.

At Catholic Charities there is joy as we witness the daily humble miracles of children who can read, seniors who are fed, homeless who are housed, immigrants and refugees who find safety and welcome, prisoners who are freed, job seekers who find work, and those with mental illness who find healing and hope. When I hear this good news, how can I keep from singing?

To learn more about Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County go to www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.