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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The United Kingdom (01/22/09)

TITLE: Visions of an Old Flutist
By Rick Higginson


He ran his gnarled fingers lovingly down the wood of the old flute, still impressed after all the years by the craftsmanship that had gone into it. As a young man, it had seemed to him a gift too rich to receive. Now that he was old, it was a friend too precious to lose.

Drawing a breath that was not nearly as deep as those he’d taken the first time he’d played it, he brought the instrument to his lips and, with practiced ease, blew a single, long test note. Happy with his tuning, he launched into the first phrases of the tune, playing by memory and singing the lyrics in his mind.

Be Thou my vision,
Oh Lord of my heart.
Naught be all else to me
Save that Thou art!
Thou my best thought
By day, or by night.
Waking or sleeping,
Thy Presence, my light.

The rich music of the flute carried over the hills, much as his voice once had when he’d still been able to sing. His father had taught him to play, and he’d refined his skills along with other musicians at the local pub. The sessions had always been a pleasure, and an Irish tradition that dated back longer than any could tell.

Be Thou my wisdom,
Thou, my true Word.
I ever with Thee,
And Thou with me, Lord.
Thou, my great Father,
And I, Thy true son.
Thou, with me dwelling,
And I with Thee one.

His Father had taught him the true joy of music, though. While the lively jigs and reels were exhilarating to play, it was in worship that his spirit found release. Sometimes, an old friend would come by and join him in the praise, playing the fiddle or the bodhran to accompany his flute, but most evenings now, he played alone.

Riches, I heed not,
Nor man’s empty praise.
Thou, mine inheritance
Now, and always.
Thou, and Thou only,
First in my heart.
High King of Heaven,
My treasure, Thou art.

You could make some money, playing for tourists in the city,
friends told him. People come from all over the world, looking for a taste of the old Ireland, and you could give it to them, they said. His old home wasn’t much, but it was where his children had been raised, and where he and his wife had enjoyed many happy years together. It was where she had smiled at him before telling him good-bye, and he fully intended to make that same journey from the same bed she had passed away in.

When he was young, he had enjoyed the accolades given to his music. It had been his flute that had caught her ear long before his smile had caught her eye, and of all the Earthly audiences he’d played for, she and their children had quickly become his favorite. He imagined her now, sitting alongside the angels, listening to the simple solo.

High King of Heaven,
My victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys,
Oh bright Heaven’s Son!
Heart of my own heart,
Whatever befall,
Still be my vision
Oh, Ruler of all.

The last notes echoed away on the breeze, and he lowered the flute. Holding it close across his chest, he allowed only a moment of sad nostalgia before mouthing a silent prayer of thanks for the voice of the flute. For as long as he had breath, he could still praise the Lord.

Standing from the old chair, he felt the wall behind him for the door and entered the dark house. He put the flute in its case by feel, and set it in its place on the shelf where he could find it the next evening. Shuffling off to bed, he fell asleep with the assurance that his next vision would be of the Ruler of All.

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This article has been read 645 times
Member Comments
Member Date
RuthAnn Cornelson01/29/09
Wow! What a lovely story. I love old hymns and I could picture the old man playing his flute and singing the words in his heart as I read this story. Great descriptions and a moving story.
Lynda Schultz 01/29/09
I love the hymn and the story woven around it is beautiful.
Mona Purvis01/30/09
So very lovely. Tender and sweet. Written as well as the notes he played. And I expect for the same purpose.
Beautiful in simplicity.
Joanne Sher 01/30/09
Just beautiful. This piece has such a wonderful atmosphere.
Chely Roach01/30/09
I absolutely love this. A lovely, tender story. I know this was written by a musician, because that particular hymn, with its simple melody, is such a pleasure to play.
The ending was superb.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/31/09
I enjoyed this beautiful story, excellently written. The music echoes in my heart.
Jan Ackerson 02/03/09
Absolutely beautiful--not just because the writing is outstanding, but because you've featured my favorite hymn. Thanks so much for this lovely piece!
Charla Diehl 02/03/09
I read this story with the ease you appeared to have written it. The fluent flow of words, descriptive phrases and the voice of the MC made me feel as though I knew this man. Thanks.
Karlene Jacobsen02/03/09
THis was beautiful and poetic in the telling. I could almost hear the richness of the wooden flute.
Dee Yoder 02/04/09
Wonderfully beautiful to read, Rick. I could imagine the music all the way through. (Am reading Cardan's Pod--riveting!)
Diana Dart 02/04/09
Wonderful. The poetry/lyrics mixed in was brilliant, gave the whole piece a great rhythmn. The tender bits about the old flutist's family had me teary-eyed. Well done (the writing, not the making-me-cry) ;-)
Carol Slider 02/04/09
This is an absolutely lovely story in every respect... and the hymn you chose is one of my favorites. Very well done!