Is music a gift? A goal? A trust?
Leo C. Cox is written on a faded tag inside my fiddle. He was the man who owned the instrument, who took it apart, fixed it, and put the ivory screw pegs on the scroll for easier tuning. He played the fiddle in barn dances with my grandmother and other family in the Southern Tier of New York during the Great Depression. He was my grandfather. I never knew him. I always heard about the music.
Grandpa’s fiddle rested in an old antique wooden case in our attic on Spencer Avenue. The instrument held court surrounded by other violins, mandolins, banjos, and an old silver saxophone. One fiddle lay in two pieces with a tiger striped back. Another was a copy of a Stradivarius violin my father had played in elementary school. Dad’s music teacher tried to get my grandfather to part with that violin. Grandpa declined.
Grandpa’s fiddle was the piece in the attic that always captured my imagination. Mother-of-pearl inlay gleamed in the shadows. The fingerboard had grooves worn in it from my grandfather’s fingers flying along the surface. No strings. No bridge. Beautiful. Silent.
The summer of 1983 I came home from Camp Susque and my parents gave me an early thirteenth birthday present. Dad had spent the week fixing up Grandpa’s fiddle. I communicated most fluently with my father in the cadenced language of music. He had entrusted to me a volume of unspoken love. An exchange of family treasure.
Mom had lovingly replaced faded material inside the wooden case with soft red felt. Encouraging music in our home was a team effort.
“My dad claimed he could throw that case across across the dance floor and the fiddle would be perfectly safe,” said my father, squinting at the antique wooden case. Smoke swirled from the cigarette hanging casually out of his mouth. I pictured the grandfather I had only observed in black and white photos tossing the wooden case across a dance floor. If my dad said so, it must be true. I wondered how this theory had been tested. I did not ask.
Dad played bass and guitar in local bands. He tuned pianos, gave lessons, and fixed what was broken with most instruments entrusted to his care. At home he loved playing hymns and the old songs of his family. . Day played the music, not just the instrument. He would smile when I picked up the fiddle and laugh when I missed the chorus into Red River Valley. I confused it every time with some other similar melody. I still do.
My favorite place to play fiddle is in church. I don’t pull out the fiddle as much as I should, but did play for a hymn sing. I tuned the strings and thought about the hands that had worked on Grandpa’s fiddle in years past. The sound guy attached a mic and noticed that the bridge was slightly bent.
“Your fiddle has a nice tone to it. But you’ll want to fix that bridge sometime soon,” he said.
“I’ll have to figure out how to do that,” I mused. “My dad always fixed what was broken.”
Dad has been gone home to heaven over ten years. Music bridged some wide emotional chasms in his life. We gained access to who he was down deep when music flowed solid over gaps between us. Now Dad is with the One who created him, the giver of all good things, the healer of all that is broken. This is the same God who removed the chasm of sin separating us all from a relationship with him. He sent his son, Jesus, to live with us and make a way for us. He died to pay the penalty of my sin, and yours. Our heavenly father gave us a way to gain access to know who he really is, through a relationship with Jesus, his son.
To learn more about the good gift of salvation, please visit the link at the the bottom of this page.
I won’t pretend to understand the mystery and joy that is God-honoring music. I do hope the song of my life is pleasing to the Creator. A gift back to the Giver of all good things. A goal to ponder, a trust to keep, and eventually, a legacy passed to another.
I guess that’s how I would define the music.
What (or who) defines the music of your life?
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Are you seeking peace with God? Here is a website that may be of help to you: www.peacewithGod.net