By: Dennis Bates
We must have had very understanding neighbors when I grew up.
When we were kids, we looked forward to New Year’s Eve. There were three of us and I was the oldest, as in ring leader. I have a younger brother and sister who are considerably quieter and more reserved than I am, but it wasn’t for my lack of trying. Our parents didn’t go out and party and didn’t drink. So, on the night almost everybody else did, we stayed home and watched the ball drop in Times Square.
At Midnight we pulled almost every pan lid out of the cupboards they were stored in and picked our favorites…two each. Then we started our version of a New Year’s celebration banging the pan lids together with the exuberance of a boat load of drunken sailors on liberty. But we didn’t stop there. Once we got a good rhythm going we marched through the house in a line, missing very few rooms. Then, weather permitting we went outside and treated the neighbors.
As an encore, my brother got out his trombone, I got out my clarinet or later my bassoon and my sister took whatever reed instrument I didn’t use. And we blew them out the front door as loud and horrible as we could make them sound. Looking back we were virtuosos when it came to horrible. We excelled.
And the neighbors never said a thing, at least that we heard. Our parents held their ears and smiled a lot. No wonder they were both hard of hearing when they got older.
Paul says in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians that no matter what we do, if we don’t have love, we are like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal and we gain nothing. Every time I read or hear those words I think about the cacophony my brother, sister and I created every New Year’s Eve. And I cringe. It’s funny now that I think of it, but if that’s what God hears when we don’t love each other here, I feel a little bit ashamed.
New Year’s Eve was one thing, but when I’m rude to someone else, when I’m selfish, when I lose my temper and when I forget to trust, hope and persevere in God’s truth, I create a new cacophony, and God doesn’t want to listen to that. He wants a symphony of pleasing sounds and sights, because when it’s all said and done, the greatest of everything is love.
If you still have trouble with that concept, send me your address, and I’ll bring my brother and sister over next New Year’s Eve and serenade you. Let me assure you, we may have gotten older, but we haven’t gotten any better.