Friday I was working at the coffee shop and one of the regulars came in. She works next door and stops by at least once a day. Sometimes she brings a book or her Bible. Occasionally she’ll bring in her violin rather than leaving it in her car. Friday she walked in with the familiar case under her arm. But something was different. There was an air of giddiness about her and a perma-smile was plastered on her face.
I soon found out this was not her ordinary violin case and the contents were nothing close to ordinary. Inside was a 600+ year old violin. Can you believe that? Six hundred years old! It was truly from another world. This instrument was being played nearly 50 years before the printing press was invented by Gutenberg, almost 90 years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic, and over 100 years before Martin Luther’s Ninety-five theses and the Protestant Reformation.
Kim took the violin out and began to play. She masterfully danced between classical pieces to down home fiddling and back again. It was beautiful…not just the music but the entire experience. I tried to imagine the places this instrument had been and all the people who had pulled a bow across it’s strings. It may sound strange but I was in awe. This violin was a marvel of craftsmanship and care. Someone skillfully made it and then others had stewarded the violin with the utmost regard.
As Bach, Brahms, and bluegrass filled the space we were standing in, I was reminded that I live in a world of instant gratification and disposable products. I don’t expect things to last a long time. I don’t think they’re even designed to. And honestly, I’d rather play Guitar Hero than take time to learn to play the guitar. That’s the sea we swim in…a sea whose rip tides pull at my/our spirituality.
I want to grow quicker. I want a prayer life that is deep and rich immediately. I want patience now. I don’t realize how unrealistic that mentality is until I encounter something so other…like Friday on the other side of my counter…only a few feet away…a slice of history was still fulfilling it’s purpose for existing. Not just functioning mind you, but rather the tone, resonance, and warmth have increased over time and attention.
I loved Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, but I loved it before I even read one word. For if his title becomes our aim; the timbre of our lives will become sweeter, a quality of other-world’ness will be about us, and it will be obvious the space we inhabit is sacred.