Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.~Alan Keightley
Finally (Finalmente! as they say in Italy) we felt better--could get out of the house and go somewhere. Still weak from a dreadful cold, but no longer contagious, Giovanni and I ventured over to Il Museo Del Violino--The Violin Musuem. Cremona, my husband's hometown, is also the home of Antonio Stradivari who lived and made violins during his lifetime in this little gem of a city. Even today there is a school in Cremona where people come from all over the world to learn the craft of makng violins.
And so that day we toured myriad rooms of violins encased in glass and watched with fascination video clips of how violins are made. We read the handwritten notes of Stradivari himself. We ended our tour in an intimate, state-of-the-art auditorium where we waited for a violinist to take the stage. There weren't many of us in the audience--Giovanni and me, a small cadre of elderly women, and a few grammar school students. I could the hear the whispers of our little group, like the quiet murmuring of water gliding over stones in a river bed. And then she appeared.
She was tiny, and almost tripped as she took the stage in high heels that she probably was not used to wearing. She was young, not yet thirty. In a soft voice, barely audible, she explained that she had been studying violin since a child and adored the instrument. She told us what pieces she would perform. She told us she played a Stradivarius from the year 1597. "To keep the instruments in working order they must be played." Then she raised the ancient instrument to her chin, fixed her dextrous fingers on the strings and picked up the bow. The transformation began--in her and us. This petite, meek obscure woman became a powerhouse. She became lost in her gifting, the melodies spilling and pouring into the auditorium. And something shifted, too, in that room, in us-- her music taking our breath, tears leaking down cheeks, people smiling, hands over hearts. No one wanted her to stop playing. We stood and clapped and clapped, because her gift had changed us. And I thought to myself as I walked out of the auditorium that she deserved to be playing for more people, for a wider audience, yet believed that she would play if there was no one to hear--the art, the music more than enough.
And her concert also made me think that often we can buy into that deadening thought that our art, our gifting is only good if someone hears or sees or buys--that we aren't anyone if we are not heard. But we are not just anyone. We are made in the image of God and he places gifts in us that are often beaten down by distorted belief about ourselves, or by ignoring the gifts, or by telling ourselves that "we'll get around to them later." What if you decided not to do that? What if you stopped and asked yourself, "What gift is just waiting there for me to begin using or start using again?" What if God was saying, "You're not just anyone. You're my beloved. I've gifted you. I put those desires to use your gift in your heart. Your desires are not wrong or misplaced or weird or ungodly. I am entirely enthusiastic about your gifts. I want to hear you. I see you. Pick up your instrument. You get to play the Stradivarius." What if, dear reader. What if...