Like a cat screeching in a microwave, he played on.
I sat flinching my eyes at the sound, trying desperately to absorb the young boys performance with my squinched up face…or my shirt or my socks…or…shoot, absorb it with anything but my ears. It was a sound only a mother could love and I, thankfully, wasn’t his mother.
Or his father. :)
Our very first Metropolitan Youth Orchestra recital was underway and it was a beut, Clark. The MYO, under the loving direction of Betty Perry, has given thousands of Indianapolis children exposure, training and appreciation of classical music, as well as an appreciation for the kinds of opportunities and rewards skill, practice and diligence provide. We absolutely love the program and would highly recommend it. But young kids on stringed instruments requires a rather forgiving ear…especially tonight.
The old, wood paneled room in a corner of the massive Broadway United Methodist Church, was crammed wall to wall with nervous students and overly expectant parents. Our youngest son was lingering near the front, a little tense, rockin the faux-hawk, waiting his turn. He’s just dang gifted on violin. From the back of the room we had discreetly given him the Three Amigos salute just to make him smile. I think he relaxed a bit. But now our focus shifted as yet another student continued the endless procession of “Nails on a Chalkboard in D# Minor.”
I stared at the next performer, a curly-headed child I didn’t know; a child who was now sweating profusely and measured in at about half the size of the instrument he played. He fidgeted with the music stand, wrestled with the bow, struggled through the fingering, locked in with the accompanist maybe once and hit notes that caused us all to collectively shudder and smile in the same measure. But there was something beautiful in that moment that spoke to me this Advent season. Something that transcended time, space and thankfully, sound.
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
I started wondering if this is what my best adult efforts sound like to God? Screechy, scratchy, out of tune…broken. I mean He who created music, He who enjoys music at a level we can’t quite comprehend, surely on my BEST day I fall ridiculously short of anything He’s imagined. Like I could hold a Christmas candle to choirs of angels. Like anybody could. Ok, maybe Justin Beiber.
Yet He LOVES what you and I offer Him, all broken and messed up! Like the beautifully, out of proportioned stick drawings that hung on our refrigerator. Drawings that had me wondering how scary I must look to my children with those two different sized eyes and misshapen head. (think Sloth from the Goonies) Or like the misspelled words, falling-off-the-page cards that I lovingly gave my Mom…some that she still has. Even when I THINK it’s perfect and I strive for the perfection I want it to be, it’s still broken before a Holy God.
BUT (here’s the cool part)…as jacked up as we are, as out of tune as we sound, when we bring Him something from our heart, I think it absolutely touches His in a way we can’t imagine. Even if it’s on a cello.
My eyes scanned the room for who might possibly be his parent(s). No, not them…no, uhmmm..ahhh, there. Yup, that’s gotta be them. I saw the probable Dad…Iphone stretched out, jockeying for a clear shot, catching every wince-able moment to relieve and share proudly with family. Little sister staring straight ahead with great admiration (and was that awe?) at what was probably her older brother.
And then there was what had to be Mom. Had to be when I saw her face. A thousand words and a thousand pictures couldn’t accurately describe what I saw. She was simply glowing; radiating an inward fire that reached out in love toward the object of her affection. Here was a nervous, curly headed, sweat-soaked little boy that couldn’t play an in-tune, on rythm note to save his life.
And I would imagine it was the most beautiful sound she’d ever heard.