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Posts Tagged ‘learning the violin’

Jo 12



I had obviously failed bigtime in our grandson’s eyes. There he was, excitedly commenting on his favourite superheroes characters in a puzzle book I had given him, while I stood beside him, blank and befuddled. Now, I know my basic superheroes like Spiderman and Iron Man and The Hulk, but alas, there were so many others I did not recognise. As for how they ended up with their various superpowers, it was clear to our eight-year-old grandson that I did not have the foggiest idea.

‘What? Don’t you know anything, Nanna? Everyone knows that!’ Zain told me in a tone dripping with disgust, as he launched into an exasperated explanation of how Spiderman came to be Spiderman and The Hulk came to be … well, hulky.

Later that day, as I sat eating dinner with our granddaughter, she suggested we might watch something on YouTube at the same time.

‘I like this show,’ Maxine told me. ‘It tells you what to do in an emergency, like when there’s an earthquake or someone gets hurt. You’d better watch it too, Nanna, because you don’t know!’

Hmm. Once again, I seemed to be a dismal failure, at least in a six-year-old’s eyes. So much for my two university degrees and teaching diploma!

Later, I remembered a response I learnt as a child that might have come in handy in both these instances when our grandchildren seemed to decide I know nothing. It originated from something that happened during my mother’s own growing up years. There were seven children in their family, with the youngest being a boy. One day when he was still quite little, his older siblings teased him about something he did not know or understand. But to put them in their place, his response apparently went something like this:

‘Well, I don’t care—I only just know a good couple of things!’

At my stage of life, I think can say without too much pride that I know a ‘good couple of things’ in some areas at least, as I’m sure you do too. Yet there is so much more I would love to know—so many great works of literature and art and classical music yet to explore, for a start. I would love to learn how to paint too. And I would love to own a violin and know how to play it.

I wonder what things you would like to know more about or be able to do. Yet, whatever knowledge or skills we gain, one day it will all be put aside and forgotten, won’t it? In fact, one day, the only thing that will matter for us all will be whether we know Jesus, the one ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3). This is the knowing that can truly satisfy us deep down and enable us to stand tall, whatever knowledge we might lack in others’ eyes.

At the end of our lives, may we all, with complete honesty and humble certainty, be able to echo the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy:

… I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. 2 Timothy 1:12 NLT

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Jo 17I looked around me as the morning train headed towards the city. Not many people in my carriage appeared overly excited about the day ahead. Some were staring into space with glum expressions. Some were dozing. Some were playing electronic games. A few were trying to study or work, frowning as they did.

And, of course, several were talking on their phones. One girl sitting not far from me spent almost the whole trip complaining to a relative or friend about someone else. No sooner had that call ended than she took another one—during which an unpleasant argument ensued. No, there was not much joy around me in that carriage that morning, I decided.

When the train reached the city, I joined the others trudging up those stairs from our underground platform. At last I surfaced in George St and stood still to catch my breath. As I did, I noticed some large banners along both sides of the street. Each of them carried a simple question in bold letters—‘Do you hear the people sing?’—and the well-known image of a wistful, young child wearing a beret and with hair streaming.  Yes, those banners were advertising the new production of Les Misérables, soon to open here in Sydney. But that morning, this question impacted me in another much more significant way.

‘Do you hear the people sing, Jo-Anne?’ God seemed to be asking me. ‘Do they know I love them? Where is the joy in their hearts?’

At once, I recalled those glum faces in the train. Then I looked at the people all around me on busy George St. Most were hurrying along, eyes down, their expressions set. Nearby, a young busker was playing her violin with great dexterity yet little heart and soul. She seemed tired and even bored—how many times had she played those pieces already? Not far from her, an unkempt man sat begging, head bowed in a hopeless manner and hand outstretched to receive whatever coins people might give.

At that point, it occurred to me to wonder how I myself looked. Could others see any joy and peace in me? Or did I seem glum and preoccupied, perhaps even hopeless, as if everything depended on me? Had I even given God a thought on my way into the city? Could God hear my own heart singing that morning? If so, what did it sound like? Was it doleful or even angry, like those who had sung the song with such fervour in Les Misérables?

Maybe I too needed to choose to begin my day with a thankful heart, full of praise for God’s many blessings, whatever was happening or not happening in my life. And maybe I needed to pray for and reach out to those around me more often in love, so that God would hear their hearts sing as well.

Maybe we all need to do what the psalmist urged us to do so long ago:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. Psalm 95:1-2

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