It is said that our lives are as unfinished symphonies; this is the story of two such lives.
First it is the story of a boy named Peter, labeled by professionals in the field of the mind, to be a prodigy. A musical prodigy, pulling composition from the air as easily as King Arthur pulled Excalibur from its stone sheath.
A child abandoned by both parents to be raised by wealthy, childless, but reluctant relatives - a move that would later prove tragic.
When Peter played the piano, the world around him slowed to an adagio like ambience. Those passing on the sidewalk would change their gait from a walk to a stroll to listen. The family dog would run in from the outside and lay peacefully beneath his bench. The cat would scamper down the stairs to jump and curl on the sofa.
When Peter played, he would close his eyes and his heart and mind would be carried to a magical place. As his fingers danced over the keys, all was right with the world. It was a catalyst for what was good, a prism refracting and changing mere light into magnificent light; taking the mundane into a crescendo of divine beauty.
One afternoon, while in this magical place, Peter felt a sudden and intense pain shoot through his hands and a violent slap across his face that knocked him to the floor. Dazed, he looked up to see his uncle’s foot kicking at the family dog and causing the piano bench to crash to the floor.
Confused, he hid behind the sofa to hear, covering his ears to his uncle’s rage. The world rushed in at him, intense and too fast, his mind was caught in a black vortex, and he was swallowed down, swirling helplessly into utter darkness.
Fingers broken, face crushed, Peter’s life at the age of twelve was inalterably changed. Speculations swarmed like flies over dung as to the uncle’s behavior: alcohol, jealously, rage. There were no real answers, only excuses but now none of it mattered.
C.S. Lewis has written that suffering causes us to release our hold on the toys of this world and know then that there lies the next world. Peter was removed from his relatives and placed in an orphanage. It is here the second story begins.
Her name was Birdie, an abused and blind twelve year old with the looks and voice of an angel. Her unthinkable past had not silenced her voice. She sang with a depth and timbre that seemed to pull from a reality beyond the present world.
A voice said to be of half-remembered melancholy, echoing from canyon walls deeply eroded in a past too brief to hold so much pain. But her songs were not sung to please her unseen audience. She sang to hush the dissonant elegy of shame and abandonment that endlessly resonated in her soul. She sang to quiet the voices and be carried, as Peter had been carried, to that place where once all was right with the world
There is a legend that the first lantern was made by a potter placing a candle in one of his broken pots. Light shone through the cracked vessel and lit his workshop with a special glow. So, it was here at the orphanage that Birdie and Peter met - each a broken vessel, each to become a lantern holding light for the other.
Here they were drawn together much as shadows drain and pool in hidden places to escape the sun, injured souls seeking solitude, grief comfortable with grief. Two beings sharing a bond of heartless human betrayal.
But God had not lost His watch over these two. His plans are far more orchestrated than any imaginations could conceive. And, on a hot July evening in Alabama at a Billy Graham Crusade, Peter and Birdie gave their life to Jesus, trusting His will. Dr. David Lamb, a renowned ophthalmologist, led them in the sinner’s prayer; and, become their friend.
From the orphanage, Peter is now writing lyrics of faith and Birdie singing them. And, with praise and honor to a loving God, Dr. Lamb says there is hope Birdie’s sight might someday be restored.
It is said that our lives are as unfinished symphonies. We can put a coda at the end of any of our movements; or we can, as Peter and Birdie have, trust and let God complete the unfinished symphony He has begun in all of us.
CS Lewis thoughts from “A Grief Observed”
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