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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)

TITLE: An Answered Prayer
By Pam Richards
01/23/08


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All the work—hours practicing in a windowless room, lessons, rehearsals, auditions, social sacrifices, monetary investments, travel, recitals—all these for thirteen years had paved the way for tonight’s event.

What should a mother’s prayer be? I can hardly breathe. The orchestra is ready; the audience is still in hushed anticipation. The lighting is dim over the guests in the finely appointed performing arts center.

I looked at the paper in our third grader’s hand. The choices were: violin, viola, cello.... With a puzzled expression, I asked, “Which one do you want to play?” This was foreign to me. I grew up on rock and roll; however, one live classical performance as a child revealed a wondrous world very unlike anything I knew. “I want to play violin like Kelly.” Kelly lived next door.

Maestro “Z” looks toward the door on the stage. She once put an important family event above her music and it had not been without cost, but she never complained. Her priorities were in order, and I thanked God that He had honored her humility by bringing her to this apogee: winning the North Carolina School of the Arts Concerto Competition meant a solo performance with full orchestra at the Stevens Center. There was no greater recognition for instrumentalists at the school, and here she was, or at least I hoped she was, ready to enter from behind the door on the left.

The twenty elementary school fiddlers played confidently, in unison and in tune, as the visiting teacher worked her magic. I beamed along with the other adults while “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” reverberated with life.

I need to breathe soon. She emerges and gracefully glides through the first violin section to front and center, elegantly dressed in a gown of bronze with a black beaded overlay. Wearing just enough make-up to accent her large dark eyes, full lashes, and expressive smile, her long brunette hair in plump rolls at the back of her head, she is stunning. With her violin and bow in hand, she bows in thanks to the exuberant applause. I inhale deeply and take my husband’s hand. She does her fine-tuning, mentally prepares herself for a moment, and nods at the waiting conductor.

Frustrated stomping and flying sheet music replaces the sound of bowing. “Perpetual Motion” is no easy feat for fourth grade fingers. “Play it slowly over and over and then you will be able to play it fast,” I explained. I pictured this piece as a step on a ladder that would take her to the next level, but my vision was not hers. Her sights went directly to the top of the ladder. She was impatient; she wanted to do it all now!

The music begins and I recognize that exquisite yet powerful sound. The heavenly chords of her part within the orchestral accompaniment radiate through the great hall. I exhale slowly and relax. She is a professional. She is in her element and she is doing what God gifted her to do. With complete composure, her interpretation of “Lark Ascending” lyrically paints the silhouette of a small bird against the backdrop of a setting sun. The changing melodies reflect when the bird soars on the currents and when his wings flap as he ascends. For the next twenty minutes, we delight in a glorious ride of sound and imagery for our souls… until at last we realize God’s little creature is moving beyond our sight, and accordingly, our sound.

She thrived and excelled among the older musicians and made an easy transition to leadership at her arts high school and in the youth symphony. The conservatory door opened and she entered as a high school junior. Now she is completing her master’s degree and teaching.

The last faint note plays, violin and bow still in place, silence hovers for a poignant moment. Her arms return carefully to her side, and the thunderous applause begins. She graciously bows to a standing ovation and cheering that seems to last forever. My tears flow freely.

I recall the scripture I wrote in her Bible when she was five and learning to draw: …and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 14:29 NIV

Thank you, Lord, for blessing the work of her hands in ways I could never have imagined!

Praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute. Psalm 150:4 NIV


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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 01/25/08
Very nice--and your 8th paragraph is simply gorgeous.

Some switching between past and present tense was mildly disorienting. Fix that up and this piece is very, very publishable.