Susan's Thursday morning note January 13, 2011
Suffering, Fear of future, Ability to relate to others, Joy in spite of pain.
The Master’s Violin by Myrtle Reed
A House of Her Own by L.M. Montgomery
Good morning! Have you found a path to your cars yet? Finally it looks like Christmas…only the deliverer of the snow missed his date by a few weeks! With the perfect coffee, discontented frustrated cabin-feverish cats staring at me, and knowing the fields hold deep white drifts I’m ready to write for you out of a book I loved this week. The Master’s Violin by Myrtle Reed, published in 1904. This was brought in by one of you to our used bookstore and I snuck it out (do I have that privilege?!?) The setting of this book is within two main homes…in the early 1900’s. One home of an older single quiet professional violin teacher and the other of an older woman who has a young woman that she adopted as a child caring for her, and another woman/son living with her while the son receives music lessons. The dialogues in this book are now underlined..the hard part for me is to pick which to type for you. I am going to write out of the chapter Afraid of Life where the master violinists sees pain in his young student’s life and gives him this challenge…
“It is for everyone in the world who has known trouble to be lifted up and made strong. They care nothing for the means, only for the end. They have no eyes for the fine bowing, the good wrist – what shall they know of technique? And yet you must have the technique, else you cannot give the message. Everyone that hears has had his own sorrow. None of them are new ones, they are all old, and so few that one person can suffer all. It is for you to take that, to know the hurt heart and the rebellious soul, so that you can comfort, lift up, and make noble with your art.
Listen. On a hill in Italy there was once a tree. It was a seed at the beginning, a seed you could hold with the ends of your fingers, so. It was buried in the ground, covered up with earth like something that had died. Do you think the seed liked that? But is it afraid, when its heart is swelling? No! It breaks through, with the great hurt. Still there is earth around it, still it is buried, but yet it aspires. One day it comes to the surface of the ground, and once more it breaks through, with pain. But the sun is bright and warm, and the seed grows. Careless feet trample upon it – there is yet one more hurt. But it straightens, waits through the long nights for the blessed sun, and so on, until it is so high as one bush. Constantly, there is growing, one aspiration upward. Bark comes and the tree swells outward, always with pain. Someone cuts off all the lower branches, and the tree bleeds, yet keeps on. Other branches come thick about it; there is one struggle, but through the dense growth the tree climbs, always upward. In the sun above the thick shade, it can laugh at the ache and the thorns, but it does not forget. And so, upward, always upward, till it is lifted high above its fellows. Birds come there to sing, to build their nests, to rear their young, to mourn when one little bird falls out from the nest and is made dead. The sun shines fiercely, and it nearly dies in the heart. The storm comes and it is shrouded in ice – made almost to die with the cold. The wild winds rock it and tear off the branches, making it bleed – there must always be pain. The thunders play over its head, the lightning’s burn it, and yet its heart lives on. The rains beat upon it like one river, and still it grows. The years go by and each one brings new hurt, but the tree is made hard and strong. One day there comes a man to look at it, all the straight find length, the smooth trunk. “It will do,” he says, and with his axe he chops it down. Do you think it does not hurt the tree? After the long years of fighting, to be cut like that? Then it falls, crashing heavy through the branches to the ground. See, there must always be pain, even at the end. Then more cutting, more bleeding, more heat, more cold. Find tools – steel knives that tear and split the fibers apart Do you think it does not hurt? More sun, more cold, still more cutting, tearing, and throwing aside. Then, one day, it is finished, and there is mine Cremona – all the strength, all the beauty, all the pain, made into mine violin!!!”
On pain bringing ability to relate to others:
“I had the technique, and when the hurt broke open mine heart, I was immediately one artist. I understood, I could play, I could lift up all who suffered, because I had known suffering mineself. Mine son, do you not understand? You can give only what you have. If one sorrow is in your heart, if you have learned the beauty and the nobility of it, you can teach others the same thing. You can show them how to rise above it, like the tree that had one long lifetime of hurt, and ended in mine Cremona to help all who hear. Of softness nothing good ever comes, for one must always fight.”
Pain bringing different kind of joy:
“You must know all the pain of the world, face to face, if you are to help those who bear it. Keen feelings give you the great hurt, but also, in payment, the great joy. The balance swings true. Take it with your head up, your teeth shut, and your heart always believing. Fear nothing, and much will be given back to you…Let life do all it can – you will never be crushed unless you are willing that it should be so. Defeat comes only to those who invite it.”
Master violinist now speaking to young girl as she is in intense pain going through her first death of someone she loves dearly:
“Little lady, do you not see? There must always be Winter, there must always be night and storm and cold. It is then that the flowers rest – they cannot always be in bloom. But somewhere on the great world the sun is always shining, and, just so sure as you live, it will sometimes shine on you. The dear God has made it so. There is so much sun and so much storm, and we must have our share of both. It is Winter in your heart now, but soon it will be Spring. You have had one long Summer, and there must be something in between. We are not different from all else the dear God has made. It is all in one law”…(she replies crying that the one she loved is dead, never to return…) “Little lady,” said the Master, very tenderly, “you must never say you are alone. Because you have had much love, shall you be a child when it is taken away? Has it meant so little to you that it leaves nothing? Just as strong and beautiful as it has been, just so much strength and beauty does it leave.”
Friendships developing because of understood hurts – Anne of Green Gables (grin):
This reminded me of a paragraph in Anne’s House of Dreams where our Anne of Green Gables during her first year of marriage meets a young woman who has had deep grief. Because Anne had a stillborn baby they were able to become closer friends, but not until Anne also had her own loss. “I hope you won’t misunderstand me if I say something else, Anne, I was grieved to the core of my heart when you lost your baby; and if I could have saved her for you by cutting off one of my hands I would have done it. But your sorrow has brought us closer together. your perfect happiness isn’t a barrier any longer. Oh, don’t misunderstand, I’m not glad that your happiness isn’t perfect any longer – I can say that sincerely; but since it isn’t , there isn’t such a gulf between us.”
You wouldn’t know it from the paragraphs above, but this book consists mainly of a “sappy” (grin) love story between the master violinist and the young student’s mother, who had been sweethearts in their early 20’s and separated….love the thoughts in the dialogues, and love the love story! (grin) This is now out of print, but I think you can get copies still on Amazon. I hope you can find a copy – you’ll love it by your bedside or as a gift to a friend! I haven’t had the chance yet to tell you thank you for all your encouragement last year….for shopping in our little store, for your notes, your ideas, your used books.
Another year – what will this one bring? Everything if we knew the stories of each of us…will we rise to the stories? Will we pray for a peace that passes the understanding of anyone around us? Will we cherish the eyes of the little ones looking at us? The brightness? Will we have time to look in the eyes of those that hurt around us? Will we take time to take care of our own eyes? Keeping them reading, looking upwards to the heavens, where our help comes from, giving them rest, giving them the time to look at the snow, the rains, the flowers, the buds, the growth in summer, the autumn, the fall again next year…time just keeps moving. Tonight we will write on our epitaph for the moments gone today. What will we write? Our choice. Will we make today count? Will we lay in bed tonight knowing we honored our creator with our decisions? Pet our dogs & cats….get their purring motors going and their tails wagging. Grin at our child showing us the millionth card trick of the week. Know it’s all gone before we know it. Make extra strong coffee with extra filler. Details. Take the time. Turn off the TV. Life doesn’t go so quickly then. Put on some music and make our thoughts and moments worth writing in stone tonight. Be worthy of being an example for those that come after us to follow…high goals. Why not make high goals? We only have one chance. Thank you for letting me come into your Thursday again. Let’s go make today count. Susan
Latin for this week:
Quies Quietis - quiet, rest, peace
angulus terrarum - quiet corner of the world; place of repose
Montgomery, L.M. Anne's House of Dreams. Bantam. New York. 1987.
Reed, Myrtle. The Master's Violin. G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York. 1904.