Friday, December 6, 2013

Trailing Clouds of Glory and God Given Talent


Years ago, my neighbor looked around for summer activities for her son in our home town of Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. As a mother of four active, wonderful  boys, she knew she would have to keep her thirteen year old lad busy, and out of trouble as the dog days of summer approached.  In the paper, she read an article about a group coming  from Canada to teach a week long course in how to play the bagpipes. She hopped in the car, drove down to North Idaho College, and signed him up. He had never expressed an interest in playing and basically just showed up and did what was asked of him. At the end of the week, he was to play in a concert which would be judged by a master piper from Scotland. My friend asked me if I would like to attend, and I happily walked down to the college, sat out on the lawn in a folding chair, and heard this young man play, 'Lament for the Old Sword.' I was captivated. I was transported. Not only did he take to the pipes like a duck to water, he played with sensitivity and grace, subtle nuances, and did not miss a note. He won the competition and after the ceremony, I introduced myself to the judge.
“Is it just me," I asked, "or did I witness a display of staggering, God given talent?”
In a thick brogue, I heard the answer that confirmed my suspicions.  “Once in a hundred years,” he said. “Only once in a hundred years does it come along like that.”
“It is as if he already knows. Do you think that he may be an old soul?”
“Yes.”
The young man quickly became a protege and his learning accelerated like a house on fire. He won contest after contest until he worked his way up to the biggest challenge of all. He would compete in Scotland. Lots were drawn as to the order of play. He was to go first.
Somewhat daunted, he went to the master with this news.“Go out there Cory and set the standard.”
He did. He was the first American and the first competitor outside Scotland to take the coveted prize.
This episode taught me a valuable lesson. Never be afraid to try something new. You never know what skills, or talents you might possess. If you are not willing to take a risk, you will never know. If you have always wanted to write, or paint, or play the piano, now is the time. Do not fear criticism nor complaint. Feed your immortal soul, and be brave in the attempt.
Being that my father was in the hockey business, he scoured the skating  rinks of Toronto and southern Ontario in search of budding stars. “Talent,” he said, “sticks out like a sore thumb.”
I start my day by looking at Facebook. Before I begin work on my novel, I need to see what everyone is doing, and there are often beautiful photographs, or words of inspiration that brighten my day. This morning I found a film clip of a young girl in Holland singing opera. Her performance moved me instantly to tears. Why? We are reminded of what we already know, that as William Wordsworth wrote, "Trailing clouds of glory do we come." It is as if we witness the hand of God.
How is that we are surprised?
 From Ode to Immortality:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,  60
        Hath had elsewhere its setting,
          And cometh from afar:
        Not in entire forgetfulness,
        And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come  65
        From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

6 comments:

Carey said...

What an inspiring piece Elizabeth-Thank you!

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Thank you. Who knows what heights we may climb yet!

Mary Jane Honegger said...

Thanks for the inspiring stories, Liz. Here's another: I have a sister who bought an old anatomy book at a garage sale about three years ago. She would read it late at night. Within two months she had enrolled in nursing school at age 47. Today she is a registered nurse working at a full time job she loves and still going to school for an additional nursing degree - and caring for her family. She says she had never thought of becoming a nurse until she bought that book.

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Wow. Good for her! Thank you for sharing that information. Your sister has inspired me.

Ana said...

She is indeed a reminder of what we have already been given when we arrive on this earth. How beautiful! Thanks Elizabeth. And I am also reminded of Beethoven who played piano at age four without lessons.

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Yes, and then you go and write a poem using every letter in the alphabet! Well done.