She had stored the instrument in an attic.
Attics are hot.
I know. I spent most of an hour in one today.
Sweat poured from my face and body—almost as if I were melting—while I completed my task. When I finally crawled out, filthy and soaked through, from the sweltering darkness I wanted nothing else but to escape outside to the relative coolness of the mid-eighty degree afternoon temperatures.
Attics are hot.
As I sat and drank down a cold bottle of water, my mind, as it tends to do, brought back the picture of the old lady, who has long since left this life. Thirty years ago, she wandered into my music store, carrying the large container that looked almost like a suitcase.
Her head shook up and down as she spoke in a squeaky voice.
“I’ve been holding on to this for a long time, but it won’t play anymore. Can you fix it?”
I opened the huge case and lifted out the ancient accordion. As I shifted it to sit on the countertop in front of me, there was a clatter from the interior of the instrument.
That wasn’t good.
The lady had left the squeeze-box with a friend she trusted for safe-keeping and the friend thought it would be safest in his attic.
Attics are hot.
All the reeds—the part of the accordion that air blows through to make the sound you can hear—are held in with beeswax. That’s all—beeswax.
You do know what happens to wax when it gets hot, right?. You know, like when you light a candle?
Sure, you do. It liquefies.
Every single reed had fallen out of place and into a huge pile inside the center of the instrument. It wouldn’t make a sound. Well, except for the jangle of loose reeds bumping against each other, it wouldn’t make a sound.
Useless. Absolutely useless.
Somehow, the remembrance of the experience—one that eventually had a happy ending, with a repair being effected and the instrument being saved for the lady—the remembrance brings to mind another story of great heat and complete failure.
The mind does run on, doesn’t it?
I have always loved to read. In my childhood, I was especially drawn to myths and fantasies, a juvenile escape, I suppose, from the hard and sometimes unhappy realities of life.
One of my favorite myths, probably a favorite because I have always dreamed of what it would be like to fly, was the story of Icarus. In Greek mythology, Icarus and his father were imprisoned on an island, but escaped by flying away on wings they fashioned from feathers and wax.
Icarus ignored his father’s warnings and, trusting the make-shift wings too much, flew higher and higher until the sun melted the wax, causing the feathers to fall off. He fell into the ocean below and drowned.
Both stories reminded me that good intentions—and even solid planning—don’t always work out the way we expect.
As I sat outside today, nearly back to normal, I realized words were running through my head—either the result of the strange line of thought or, perhaps, the cause of it. It’s hard to tell sometimes.
We’ve wanted to be trusty and true, but the feathers fell from our wings.
A week ago, a friend shared the song. I had never heard it before. The words hit hard as I listened, and moved me as much as any I’ve heard in recent memory. I found myself agreeing with the artist throughout.
Even though it’s not a Christian song, its truth is still profound.
I want to be dependable, to act as one who has proven, time after time, to be trustworthy.
I want to be trusty.
But, again and again, I do the thing which shows the disaster I really am.
Flapping for all I’m worth, my feathers have all melted away and I’m going down. Again.
The Apostle, my namesake, tells us he had the same problem, as well. The things I say I want to do, I don’t seem to be able to accomplish. The acts I want to avoid at all costs—those are the ones I find myself performing. (Romans 7:15)
Somehow, the heat is always on. Somehow, our feathers never will stay put.
And, the harder we try, the more the notes won’t sound.
Some would say we’re trying too hard.
I just say, we’re trying. And, we can never succeed in the strength we have. Never.
Every attempt we ever make at being trusty on our own will ultimately end in failure. Every one.
We fly, only when He gives us wings to do so. We make music because He puts the reeds into place.
He saved us, not because of our own righteousness, but because of His unending mercy. By the washing and renewing of His Spirit, we are His. (Titus 3:5)
Even when the heat is on, our faces dripping with perspiration and lungs filling with the filth of this world, we are His, saved by His Grace.
Time to fly.
The only One who is Trusty and True has us.
We just have to come.
But feathers fell from our wings
And we’ve wanted to be worthy of you
But weather rained on our dreams.
And if all that you are
Is not all you desire,
(from Trusty and True ~ Damien George Rice ~ Copyright © 2014 Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.)
So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
(Revelation 3:18 ~ NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. All rights reserved.