(first published January 2, 2013)
New Year’s Eve we were watching “Live from Lincoln Center.” Hope was recovering from losing four wisdom teeth that morning. Nancy was reading, I was riding the stationary bike I borrowed from friends a year ago. In short, we were exercising our bodies, our minds, and our patience with pain.
I looked at the television just as the camera showed a closeup of a violin neck. I’m sure the director was wanting to show the hand. I noticed the wood. The body of the violin was nicely varnished. The finish on the neck was completely worn off. And then the shot moved on.
I stayed with the worn neck. I’m guessing that the owner didn’t worry about the appearance of the neck. In fact, the wear was evidence that the owner plays. A lot. Practice and performance. Scales and symphonies.
I thought about a Bible at the memorial service last Saturday. DeVon’s Bible was worn, the cover showing what tattered means. I thought about the arms of my grandfather’s rocking chair.
And I thought, “What will be worn at the end of 2013?”
What will we use so routinely that it will bear the imprint of repeated use? Will the “I love you” key on our keyboard be fainter by the end of the year? Will our pencils all have erasers rubbed away from editing the words we might have said in anger? What person introduced in the Old Testament that we’ve met, briefly, in a sermon once will we get to know like a friend? What phrase like, “I’m sorry” or “How can I help you” or “Thank you” will feel easy to say?
As someone listens to our concert at the end of the year, what will they see in closeup and think, “That’s why she sounds so good”?