My morning at the music store was all planned out.
I always come in an hour ahead of time to get an early start. Product to be sent to customers has to be pulled and moved to the shipping room. Emails must be checked and answered. Repaired items needing to be picked up are checked again and moved to the proper section.
When the doors are unlocked, the objects to be worked with are no longer inanimate, but human. Somehow, planning goes out the window. Phone calls are answered, problems addressed, and merchandise is sold.
Still, I hadn’t counted on the Peter and the Wolf kids. Mom wondered if I would mind too very much giving them a demonstration of the musical instruments they had heard in the orchestral composition by Mr. Prokofiev.
She had a set of picture cards, but the children wanted to see the real instruments if they could, please. That is, if you don’t mind.
I didn’t mind. I’m a good guy who loves helping children.
The first card showed a bassoon. We dragged one out of the back room and assembled it, taking care to show the two tykes the double reed which gives the instrument its distinctive tone. The little girl was surprised to see that the strange instrument was much taller than she.
The next card showed an image of an oboe, so an oboe came out of its case and the smaller pieces were shoved together to make an instrument a little smaller than a clarinet. Again, the double reed made an appearance.
As each instrument came into view, the character in the musical story was named. The bassoon had been the low, naggy sound of a fussing grandfather, the oboe—Peter’s quacky duck.
One by one, we located the characters the children had met in the recording. The pretty silver flute was the little bird, and the clarinet, long, black, and sinister, was the cat that stalked the bird. The drums, such as we could find—I’m sorry ma’am; we don’t sell many timpani—were the hunters, come to help Peter in his time of need.
Of course, we had to find as many of the stringed instruments as we could, making do without a double bass viol. Peter was represented in the musical tale by the entire violin family, regardless of size.
I’m a horn player. It was a proud moment. Surely the children would be impressed.
I’ve played it nearly all my life.
The little girl, friendly and twinkly for most of the tour of instruments, stared at me, her mouth open and eyes wide. Disbelief was written all over her face.
You’re the wolf?
Why, yes. No!
Wait a minute! I’m not the wolf! I just play the instrument that represents him in the symphony. I’m not really the wolf.
The children are gone. That was hours ago.
I’m still a little shaken.
Am I the wolf?
Thoughts swirl in my head. The horn is forgotten for the time being, but other things are not. Memories of acts committed, never to be undone, are mixed with the cacophony of voices that have filled my ears.
All have sinned—there is not one righteous person—whoever breaks one law is guilty of breaking all—those who live like this will not see God. (Romans 3:23, Ecclesiastes 7:20, James 2:10, Galatians 5:19-21)
There are times—perhaps only for a moment, but often for days—when the memories of what I have been and done haunt my waking hours. They even stretch my waking hours, leaving me restless in my bed, denying sleep.
Always, finally, the reality of grace hits home. Always.
Do the voices not speak truthfully, then? Am I not a sinful man?
They do. I am.
I was the wolf. Was. And, just like the wolf in Peter’s tale, I deserved death, but found instead life.
While I was still doing damage to Him, grace was offered. To an enemy, He offered comfort and safety. (Romans 5:8)
Grace is stronger than the wolf.
I am not who I was.
I’ll play my horn again in the morning. I know I’ll smile as I remember my little friend, mouth agape and eyes opened wide.
No, my dear. I am not the wolf.
Grace is stronger.
Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11 ~ NASB)
I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.
(Katharine Hepburn ~ American actress ~ 1907-2003)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.