Tomorrow I will move my mother to assisted living in a nearby community; a new chapter in her life will begin. I pray it will be an easy transition for her, and one that will give her the chance to enjoy a certain level of dignity and relative independence as she faces her final months/years on this earth. That is my goal. I want to be a good son, and I want to do right by her – she has given me so much . . . life itself.
Many years ago my mother sent to me a quotation she found interesting. She did this often, since the use of words and pithy sayings was always of paramount importance in our family. I have an album full of these quotations from her, but several have remained favorites of mine through the years, and here is one for your consideration (credited to John Ruskin).
“There is no music in a ‘rest’ but there is the making of music in it.
In our whole life melody, the music is broken off here and there by ‘rests,’ and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune. God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts that makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives and we lament that our voice must be silent and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator.
How does the musician read the rest?
See him beat the time with unvarying count and catch up the next note true and steady as if no breaking place has come between.
Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the time and not be dismayed at the rests. They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote.
If we look up, God Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear.”
Recently, I have had some “forced leisure” and “disappointed plans” put on my proverbial “plate.” What do I make of it? How do I read these times in my life? How can my own mother look at the very real restrictions on her abilities, the limitations with which she approaches the end of her life? Walker, wheelchair, oxygen tank – these are not goals to which she aspires.
Like the musician, we “beat the time,” we keep in step with the rhythm, we recognize that whatever we are currently going through is as much a part of the melody of our lives as the times we relish, or the times when we seem to enjoy the most freedom and ease. Because – there is a next note coming. And we want to be present so that we can make it sound as it truly should, “full and clear.”
A melody without rests is like a tune without rhythm. Boring. Unrecognizable. Indistinguishable from all the other sounds that surround us. And so . . . we learn to embrace the “rests” in our lives. They belong where they are. They are by “design.”