Worth Suffering For

I lost a little blood again tonight.  Oh, it wasn’t a flood, but I did say “ouch!” when it occurred.  And, I learned a lesson as I stood and sucked on my finger to stop the flow of the red liquid.  It has happened before and you can be sure it will happen again as I repeat the activity.  One would think that I would cease and desist, but the result is an important one (to me anyway), so I’ll take my chances.

As usual, I realize that there may be a little frustration as you try to figure out what this old mutterer is talking about, so I’ll try to clear the matter up as soon as may be.  You see, after a long and enjoyable evening at home, I needed to come back to the music store and do a little task I had promised to perform for someone before morning.  The lady requested that I put strings on two guitars for her children.  Foolishly, I promised that they would be done today, not thinking about the possibility that my afternoon would blow up in my face.  It did.  The explosion doesn’t bear dwelling on, but at any rate, restringing guitars was the furthest thing from my mind as I finished out the eventful day.  Now, after midnight, the thought intruded once again on my mind, which explains why I was standing at my workbench, sucking on my finger.

Oh, it doesn’t explain it at all?  Okay…here’s the thing.  When I put strings on a guitar, they must be cut short to keep them from vibrating annoyingly while the instrument is being played.  The short ends of the strings, being a little stiff, tend to catch things which pass nearby and aerate them, so to speak.  My fingers, of necessity, pass near the string ends, thus they are frequently punctured.  It is not a necessity, but merely a probability.  I install strings, I poke my fingers.  I’m not saying that every guitar tech has the problem.  It is simply a reality for me.

“Why do you continue to install strings, if it always hurts?”  I can hear the question being asked by some curious reader already.  The main thing you need to understand about the job is that the end result of most repairs is the amazing experience of tuning up an instrument and running my fingers across the newly installed strings, and hearing the brilliant and harmonious sounds which are emitted.  Most of the time, these musical instruments are in disrepair when they arrive, or at the least, in horrible voice.  My ministrations, complete with blood-letting, result in beauty from ruin; glorious music from abject silence.  The annoying sting of the errant string-end is quickly forgotten as the echoing sound of the newly tuned instrument falls on my satisfied ears.  I am content.

Once again, the long and enjoyable evening comes back to mind.  Annually, the Lovely Lady and I spend an evening near Christmas with good friends, some of whom we have known and loved for over thirty years.  Over the years, we have shared in the lives of these friends and they in ours.  Our children grew up together.  Now our grandchildren are growing up together.  The gathering also includes these children and grandchildren.  It is a glorious, noisy, delicious mess. It is also one of my favorite nights of the year and has been for quite a number of years.

How does the bloody finger remind me of this occasion?  These friendships haven’t lasted for all these years without their share of pricked fingers and painful events.  True friendship lives on through the pain and the sorrow that the years bring.  The result is the glorious music which was made tonight, not just as we raised our voices, both young and old, in praise to the new-born King, but the harmony of friends simply enjoying the fruits of many years of hard work.  To my mind, this is the kind of music which comes from heaven above.

Am I being too sentimental?  Possibly.  But, I maintain that when the Creator said of his creature, “It is not good for him to be alone,” he was not merely speaking of the need for a marriage companion, but of the companionship which would result from the populating of the earth.  We need people…every single one of us.  After our relationship with our God, our bond with people comes next in importance.  The Teacher said it, when He reiterated the old Law…”Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  What?  You think that happens in a vacuum?  You think we can love our fellow man from a distance?  Not possible.  We are intended, even designed, to form attachments with each other; attachments which will last a lifetime and beyond.

I have long maintained that our friendships are one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind, if not one of His oldest.  There is pain involved with nurturing these ties.  These bonds will undoubtedly lead us through times of sorrow and times of loss.  But, the path leads with unfaltering steps to joy, to companionship, to kinship which can last for generations.

So, here I sit, sucking my finger and listening to glorious music.  I’m thinking that it’s worth it after all.

I hope you do too.

 “But woe to him who is alone when he falls, and has not another to lift him up.”
(Ecclesiastes 4:10b~ESV)

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you.  You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”
(Bob Marley~Jamaican singer/songwriter~1945-1981)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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