Friday, July 31, 2015

Who Needs a Teacher?

We just got back from our summer trip, the next MAYS season's audition looming only three weeks away.  The violin is dusted off and tuned up. The music is on the stand. The YouTube channels scoured for Concerto Grosso in C-moll and Wohlfahrt’s Etude #57.

By now, we all know very well how both pieces are supposed to sound. We got that by listening to the pros. In fact, the entire family has memorized the beautiful melodies that have begun to haunt us in our sleep.

But, listening and dreaming about the music isn’t going to cut it.  Even memorizing and humming the entire opus will be of no help on the day of audition.

Important as these might be, they don't make a musician. And, all of them are relatively easy. No particular skill or talent is required to do them.

Actually playing, however, is hardReally hard.

The sole musician in our musically disinclined family is at his wits end.  

Working harder isn’t helping. 

"Helpful" tips from his concerned parent aren't helpful at all. 

At this point, all this only generates more frustration.

We can’t do this on our own. We need help!  We need somebody who will break down this monster into bite-size pieces we can chew and digest and put them back together into a soulful melody that stirs the hearts of everyone who listens. 

We need our teacher back!

I find myself in that ‘wits-end’ place in life a lot.  I can listen to the best preaching. I can read and even memorize Sermon on the Mount or I Corinthians 13 and recite them in my sleep.

But actually living those words?!!?

It’s hard.  In fact, on my own, absolutely impossible.

I need my Teacher back! 

For He and He alone can break down those lofty soliloquies into bite-size pieces in a way that helps me make sense of them in my wits-ends moments and my fraying-ends days.  

And He alone knows how to put it all together so my life isn’t an irritating series of screeching noises that gets on everyone’s nerves but a soul-stirring echo of a grander symphony played by the Great Composer Himself.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Back from the Dead

I always thought that resurrection from the dead comes with a boom and a bang, something like 4th of July fireworks followed by a loud applause of the thrilled masses watching grand finale unfold before their eyes. 

Or, perhaps accompanied by a rock-splitting earthquake, or at least a clap of thunder and a flash of lightening as such momentous occasion requires.

But for me, this rising from the Duolingo dead was nothing like that.

Not at all.

For me, it was slow and achy all over, more like waking up after a major surgery, still under anesthesia, groggy and rather out-of-it, a dose of unreality enveloping the entire experience.

Did it really happen? Or was it just a dream? What do I do now?!?!!

More like the way I imagine Lazarus stumbling out of the grave, all sticky and wrapped in bandages, squinty-eyed and wobbly on his legs rather than like Jesus decked out from head to toe in his super-powered, new and improved celestial body with its snazzy high-tech features.

As I get more and more awake, an awareness forms in my mind that from now on I have to go through my life with a limb missing, and I am not really sure I can do that.

In fact I know I don’t. 

It takes me ridiculously long to muster enough courage to turn on my computer and log into my Duolingo account. The bitter stab of the crushing loss still pokes me in the ribs when I see that big fat zero. As if it’s the definitive sum total of the value of my entire existence.

But then slowly, very slowly I begin to notice that outside of my streak, nothing else has changed on my home page.  Nothing else was lost. All my skill levels are still there.  All my checkpoints still passed. Even my lingots balance remained the same! Not that it mattered.

I do a practice run of Conjugations just for fun, and although I might be a little creaky, I am still doing pretty well.

Back inside my 97 day old stomping ground, I begin to remember why I started learning Spanish in the first place.

I remember Margaret...

And something like shame mingled with something like love bubbles up from deep within …  and I realize that it wasn’t so much that I became blind, 



somewhere along the way 

I became 

so focused on 

this one thing  

that I couldn’t see anything else anymore.