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Three Meter Zone | JD's Bunker | Poetry | Chapel | American Journal



Paul Schneidmill


As a child, I recall hearing and singing an Old Negro Spiritual in church that had its roots in a unique place in American history.  During America’s slavery era, this particular song, along with two others (“Wade in the Water” and “The Gospel Train”), was often sung by slaves as a code to signal each other during times and opportunities for escape along the “Underground Railroad.” 


The song I’m referring to, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” is based on the Biblical account of the prophet Elijah being taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind via a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11).



Swing Low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home


On March 29-30, 2005, my family and I visited a local theme park so our inimitable and illustrious children; the Prolific Paul (12) and the Amazing Angela (9) could maximize enjoyment of their school’s “Spring Break.” 


As dad, I was the primary candidate for participation with the kids in what I’m about to discuss with you.  My wife, the Dynamic Debbie (a certain age), admittedly the smarter one in our parental team; also participated with them, but in a considerably lesser capacity. 


I’m sure you know that the main attraction of theme parks concern their exciting and exhilarating roller coaster rides.  Also, you may have observed as I have, that theme parks nation-wide (and probably world-wide) compete each year with rival parks, by developing and building bigger, faster, and more frightening/terrifying roller coasters than before.  They promote these by stating that theirs is the fastest, highest, longest, has the biggest “drop” or is “the only one of its kind in the world.”


These “chariots” (if you’ll allow me to use the term) I experienced, went by such names as: Anaconda, Avalanche, Flight of Fear, Hypersonic XLC, and Volcano.  However, these conveyances can in no way be compared to the chariot in the song because:


(1) Their idea of swinging “low” was almost subterranean.  (2) Based on the way they rattled my brain and bones, I could not bring myself to give any of them an endearment such as “sweet,” and (3) I was “carried” through so many confined and contorted spaces, via highly erratic and violently twisting loops and turns, that I could never mistake where they took me for “home.”


I can also say with much certainty that the “whirlwind” Elijah was taken up to heaven by God’s power, protection, and provision, had to have been much more pleasant than the wind that whirled about my eyes, ears, mouth, and nose due to the ferocious velocity with which these contraptions traveled.  In relation to that, I can’t believe that the “fiery” chariot Elijah went to Glory in sped like the “fiery” burn rate of explosive detonation cord.


I’m not just trying to paint you a picture – I’m telling you what it felt like to me!


The Bible teaches me constantly and consistently, that I am cared for and kept by the endless supply that is the grace of God (Proverbs 3:34; John 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:4-7; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 1:6; 2:5,8; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 2:11; 3:7; James 4:6; 2 Peter 1:2; 3:18.  I am grateful that I received much validation of that during those “chariot” rides.


Many years after the original “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was composed, a similar song titled “Swing Down Chariot,” was written with the following refrain:


Why don’t you swing down chariot stop and let me ride

Rock me, Lord; rock me Lord, calm and easy

I’ve got a home on the other side


Unfortunately, these lyrics were also far from my theme park “chariot” experiences.  There was nothing reminiscent of “calm” or “easy.”


Many times during those two days, I wanted to sing my own variation of a “Chariot Song.”  It would’ve gone something like this:


Why don’t you swing down chariot STOP and LET ME OFF! 


Copyright © Paul Schneidmill, All Rights Reserved