Of Violins and Suffering

By:  Staci Stallings

Sunday turned out kind of strange.  The Holy Spirit had me go to Mass twice.  Now this is very unusual, but that’s how it happened.  By the end of the homily I knew why.

The beginning of the homily was great… note to self, start taking notes!  But then end knocked it out of the park.

Midway through the priest left the podium and came down in the midst of the parishoners.  He told about an old violin maker.  The violin maker was known for the beauty of the music his instruments produced.  So violin making students came to him to learn.  At the beginning of the process, the violin maker would take a paint brush into the forest and mark trees.  “Yes, this one.  No that one.  Yes.  Yes. Yes.  No.”  Then he would instruct the woodcutters to bring him the trees he had marked.

One step at a time the students learned to hone the instruments and glue them so that their music was exquisite.

Then a new student came to the school.  This student was stubborn.  He believed he knew more than the old violin maker, and no one could tell him differently.  Worse, he complained about every lesson–that they were too hard, that making violins that way just took too much time.  Everyone was annoyed with this student, and they wanted him thrown out of the program.  The old violin maker decided to give it one more try.  He took the student with him to the forest and began marking trees.  “Yes, this one.  No that one.  This one, this one, this one, not those three.”  When he had marked several trees, the violin maker turned to the student and handed him the paint bucket.  “You.  Mark the trees.”

The student was confused.  “But I do not understand.  I don’t know why you mark some trees but not others.”

“Were you not watching?”

“Yes,” the young man said.  “I was watching, but I do not know why you mark some trees and not others.”

“Look.”  The old violin maker pointed to the top of the trees.  “The trees I have marked are those that are facing north.  They lean north.  They do not shirk from suffering and difficulty.  They meet the rain and the hail and the wind head-on.  A tree that has faced adversity grows strong.  It’s wood is the finest anywhere, and ultimately, it will make the very best music anywhere as well.”

Do you face suffering or do you bend the other direction away from it?  How’s the music of your life?

I think I know why the Holy Spirit sent me to church twice… I needed both sermons!

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