As is the case with most children in our neck of the woods, my parents gave me music lessons. I studied piano and clarinet from a young age and continued through college enjoying the richness music adds to our lives. My understanding of football and basketball are largely due to the many years of playing the clarinet in the various pep bands, not to mention the pit bands for plays and symphonic orchestras, too.
Fast forward and the trusty clarinet became a distant memory for the next thirty years as I focused on career and raising my children. So when I came to Ruach in 2003 and they were excited to hear I played the clarinet, I was quite hesitant. So many years had gone by and it may not be just like hopping on a bicycle again. Suffice it to say that not only was it a skill that returned, but I even tried playing by ear, something new I had not tried before then, and I loved it!
All these years since then have gone by and I will occasionally play the clarinet with our music group, the KCs “Kosher Caliente”. I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t practice between these times and am so grateful I’m still able to enrich our services when we play.
The KCs were up again this past week and because I live in two places, Maine and Massachusetts, it’s not easy keeping track of where my belongings are, especially ones that are not often used. So it happened that my clarinet was in Maine, forgotten until it was too late to turn back to get it. As we engaged in worship at Ruach on Shabbat, and as each missed opportunity for what the clarinet adds to those moments passed, I felt such a pang of regret. The worship was wonderful without the clarinet’s sound (Thank you, Rabbi Rich, for the amazing trombone!!) Yet HaShem was speaking to me about much more. . .
Not that I’m so talented, but clearly playing the clarinet is a bit of a gift. How I was able to pick it up so easily after so many years away, and add the ability to play by ear were gifts from our Abba. The fact that I can play without practicing is Him speaking to me – imagine what you would be able to do if you took that gift and did your part, if you worked to make it sound even better. I was taking this blessing completely for granted, until my eyes were opened to the feelings of loss last Shabbat as our Abba reached out to teach me even more.
As our parent He gives us choices in life that guide us closer to Him. Sometimes we make the right ones and sometimes we don’t. Had I gone back to get my clarinet, which I could have, but to do so would have made our drive to Massachusetts an extra hour long, I would have had my clarinet to play for services. Its sound would have added to our Shabbat services. Yet He used my choice of not going back to teach me perhaps a more important message – we are here to co-create with Him and make this world a better place.
All of us have been given skills, gifts, blessings, abilities, even tenderness of heart to others. Yet we so often get busy and make excuses for why we are not doing or cannot do more with what He has given us. When we create music, it is such a blessing to others, in the sanctuary and in our world. These are times of respite from times which can be so difficult. So too, cooking, painting, sewing, building, teaching, loving, all are ways of sharing HaShem’s beauty. The gifts he gives us are blessings meant to be shared with others. Just as He, through Yeshua, created a world of magnificence, He gives us tools to co-create a world filled with His presence.
Forgetting my clarinet last Shabbat was a wake-up call to me to stop taking for granted His love, and all that He has given me. Time to pick up that Klezmer primer and get to work! I encourage you to think about all that He has blessed you with, and work with those tools you have been given for sharing His love. He has entrusted you to co-create a world of awe, one person at a time.
No more excuses. Let’s do it!