I love playing the horn. Really, I do.
If it sounds as if I’m trying to convince myself, perhaps I am. Of all the endeavors I have undertaken in my life, playing the horn has been the most mercurial.
By that, I mean to say it has been the most enjoyable and the most frustrating. I’ve had astounding successes and disastrous failures. Most days, I love playing with other musicians. Then again on others, I detest the very thought of it.
I suppose my attitude toward the activity may be tethered to my commitment to preparation for it. For some odd reason, when I don’t take the horn out of its protective case and play it between rehearsals, the rehearsals themselves are less than satisfactory. Often, much less.
The lady is kind if nothing else. She is. Standing there on her podium, she has no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings. All she’s after is music—correct notes, played at the right time, and at the volume indicated in the dynamic marking.
It’s not much to ask.
Still, it requires more than just attempting it in the instant of need. Sometimes, a lot more.
She was frustrated on the last occasion. The violins may have been a few cents off pitch. The timpani player might have played that roll too loudly. The bass voices could have been dragging the beat a little.
None of those was the cause of her frustration. This time, anyway. No, it was something else.
The horns had blown their entrance.
Three notes. That’s all it was. Three. Play a G in the middle octave, then a jump to the G in the higher octave, then a little slur down to the F#.
Except, it didn’t happen. The first note was nowhere near to a G, nor was the next even close to the octave interval required. Perhaps, we shouldn’t even talk about the F#.
The exasperation was obvious as she motioned with her baton. A big circle in the air. That meant stop. No. It meant stop now!
She needn’t have bothered on my account. I wasn’t playing any more notes after that flub anyway.
She looked back at the horn section, the frown on her lips replaced quickly with a smile. If not one of confidence, it was at least one of hope.
You’re going to get that. I’m sure you will. Next time.
She didn’t insist we play it again in front of all the other musicians. She didn’t berate us for our second-rate performance. She extended mercy.
Mercy and grace.
A second chance.
An interval in which to work on our interval, you might say.
A wise man would spend the time judiciously, these minutes—and hours—and days—in that interval of grace.
But if you know me, you know I wonder about other things, as well. It’s impossible for me to consider that little ragtag group of musicians we like to call a chamber orchestra and not get a glimpse in my mind of this great, huge symphony in which all of us are participants.
Every single one of us plays a part. The phrase fits the subject perfectly—not by my design—but because it is true that all of us understand we play, at least in some capacity, a part of the music of life.
Even with the high expectations, we’ll all play a clinker at some point. Our Conductor understands.
He once played in the symphony, too. Is it too much to believe He’d be sympathetic with our weaknesses? (Hebrews 4:15)
He hasn’t forgotten the music; hasn’t lost the rhythm of creation. And, He knows how difficult it is to play those intervals sometimes.
I wonder. This might be one of those other intervals.
Maybe, we should use the time wisely. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
The Day is approaching—the day when the baton in our Conductor’s hand sweeps toward that down beat.
I’m not going to miss this interval.
In theory, there is no difference between practice and theory. In practice, there is.
(Yogi Berra ~American baseball player/manager ~ 1925-2015)
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
(Hebrews 4:15, 16 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.