Practice, practice, practice

Make me an instrument of Thy peace;

I took up the violin at fourteen when a friend found a forgotten instrument and a bow in his grandmother’s attic. Twenty-five dollars for new strings and a sound post, mineral oil and some polishing got the violin in working order. I bought a beginners music book, took up the violin and bow, and began learning how to play.

Anyone who plays violin (or lives with someone learning to play) soon learns that producing a pleasant tone, even just a single note, isn’t easy and doesn’t happen quickly. Drawing the bow across the string with just the right tension requires practice and an ear to know when the note sounds right. It isn’t something that can be learned in theory: it’s a practical learning, requiring time and intentional devotion. The difference between music and noise is playing, listening, playing, listening, playing, and so on. Every day builds on the every other day. Bringing a Bach Sonata to life through the violin’s four strings takes only a few minutes, but it’s years in the making. There is no shortcut.

When I pray to be an instrument of God’s peace, I’m asking for years of devotion and work because I don’t know how. Becoming an instrument of peace requires actively playing my part, listening for God’s voice, playing my part, listening to my neighbor, playing my part. When God grants peace through who I am and what I do, it may seem like a gift from out of the blue. More likely, it was years in the making. No shortcut, but the work of a lifetime. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

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