Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lessons from a violin

"making music with stringed instruments"
1 Chronicles 15:28

If this is not your first time reading this blog, then you probably have realized how much I love finding lessons about God in everyday places, like interaction with friends or things I experience or read about.

I also love sharing those illustrations with all of you :-) 

But sometimes those illustrations of God are just impossible for me to miss.  Which is to say, sometimes something happens and I think, "huh.... that reminds me of God, and how much He loves us...."  whereas sometimes I read something and think, "Wow.  That totally describes God in my life!" 

The former experiences ~ the more gentle ones ~ are sweet reminders in my life.  They are things that bring Him to mind, and make me appreciate the fact that He is always with us, and that He likes to remind us of that.

But the latter experiences ~ the big ones ~ the ones that help me understand Him.  He is powerful and timeless, and wise beyond our understanding.  So I love illustrations that help me get a better glimpse of His character, and His relationship to us.

Such is this one.  Now, I understand that what's powerful to me might not be for you, and vice versa.  That's the kind of thing that makes each of us unique.  But I thought this was so fascinating.  I learned something new, and it deepened my appreciation for how He works in my life ~ if I let Him.

The article I read ~ and yes, it was written years ago ~ was about a species of tree that grows in Brazil.  (Not to be confused with the Tree that Grows in Brooklyn.)  It's called the pernambuco tree, and it's the premier wood used for making bows for stringed instruments.

photo credit: wikipedia
The species is endangered, and the article was about the cooperation between the bow-making industry and conservationists, to keep the tree alive.  Both groups endorse the planting of new seedlings, and both groups know that bows can be made of other sources, like carbon, but there they differ.  Conservation groups think bows should only be made from carbon, and bow-makers say that while carbon is good, it's not as good as pernambuco.

Interesting article, and now I know things I didn't know before.   But what was most interesting ~ that I didn't know before ~ was the importance of the quality of the bow when it comes to making music.  I thought that a bow was a bow.  Apparently not so.  There were quotes in this article that were so enlightening.  A member of the Vienna Philharmonic said, "Some people think a bow is only wood and hair.  But the bow can be more essential to expressing the soul of the music than the violin is."

Huh... who knew?  Well, I mean, other than string musicians....

He also said, "It's better to have a fine bow and a mediocre violin than a fine violin and a mediocre bow."  Really?  Seriously?  Does anyone besides me think that's astounding?  I've heard all my life about Stradivarius violins being the finest violin in the world, because of the craftsmanship and the fact that the trees make a difference because they grew during a specific time period in Europe or because of the specific growth patterns in the trees, or something something something else. 

Clearly I only have some semblance of knowledge about this... but the fact remains that when there are differences in stringed instruments themselves, it surprises me to learn that the bow makes an even bigger difference.

But when I really started to think about it, it made a lot of sense.  Yes, the instrument has to be made just right to create the music.  The wood has to be carved by a craftsman, the strings have to be, well, strung. 

But the bow.  The bow really does the work.  The violin is merely the instrument that the bow plays on.   And I thought to myself, "He is the bow; I am the instrument." 

I think that I am serving Him, and accomplishing things in my life, like writing, teaching, and raising two Awesome and Amazing Children.  But the reality is, I can do nothing without Him.  Even my faith comes from Him.  My desire to seek His will, and the power to obey all come from Him. 

I'd like to think I'm the perfect instrument for the work He has for me; for the music He has for me to play.   But what matters is that He's perfect.
~ "Both the singers
and the players on instruments say,
'All my wells of joy in are you.'" ~
Psalm 87:7

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