After church one day an older lady handed my musician friend a little piece of paper with some words and rudimentary music notes scribbled on it. My friend and I perform music for the church service once or twice a month and although neither of us consider it our home church, we get to know people in the congregation, especially as they interact with us about the music. This lady had written a song on a little at-home keyboard and although she did not say why she was sharing the paper with us, it seemed obvious that she hoped we might take an interest in the song. My friend is a very talented professional musician, but he is also a kind and humble fellow. He took her notes home with him, jotting down on her scrap of paper the rhythmic pattern of the words as she repeated them to us.
A month or two later, I was listening to my friend’s postlude music as the congregation was leaving the service, and I was wondering what he was playing. The song sounded familiar, like a jaunty, old hymn, but I couldn’t place the melody. However, when I saw the lady approach the piano after the service, and I saw her big, beautiful smile of joy, I realized why I recognized the tune—he was playing her song! By taking the material he was given, he made it into something lovely and he also made her day. Imagine how special it was to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience of hearing her song played and arranged by an accomplished and sensitive musician. He brought life to that song and a special moment to that lady.
How often do we miss the chance to use our talents simply to help another person and bring joy to their life? We are too busy or too self-absorbed or too concerned with getting ahead that we miss such opportunities when they come knocking. No one can do every thing, not every time they are asked, but isn’t ours more a problem that we so rarely step out of our comfort zone to do something like my friend did—a kind act with no thought of gain—that we can’t even remember the last time we did?
Of course, our talents and skills are the basis for making our living. They are an expression of ourselves and our hopes and dreams. We don’t need to apologize for not responding to such promptings when we just can’t, nor do we need to apologize for suggesting to be paid for our labors when we see an opportunity. A whole other discussion can—and surely should—take place about how unkind it is to take advantage of the goodnatured person who helps without remuneration.
However, the smile I saw on the lady’s face when she came up to the piano was priceless and came about because someone took extra time and kindly gave out of his talents just because he could.