Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I read about the following account this week and the truth and beauty of the story has lingered in my soul, drawing like a magnet the unfettered wounds that had been left to roam and haunt. The famed violinist, Itzhak Perlman, was giving a concert. Having contracted polio at the age of four, Mr. Perlman walks slowly with crutches, leg braces and a signature gait. Audiences expect, yet are still moved by, the strength and integrity Mr. Perlman brings to the stage. On this particular evening, he had set down his crutches, as is his ritual, and arranged himself to play. Early in the first piece one of his violin strings snapped. The conductor halted the concert and the audience held their breath, anticipating the effort it would take for this master to walk off stage and replace the string.

Mr. Perlman was said to have sighed, as a mischievous grin began working from the corner of his mouth. Then he replaced the violin under his chin, signaled the conductor, closed his eyes again and proceeded to play with expert abandon, willing the beauty of four strings from three, drawing the audience into a rapture of skill and passion not previously known. The concert ended in thunderous applause. The palms of the audience burned from clapping their appreciation and awe. When the noise finally settled, Mr. Perlman spoke, with the same genuine smile that had crept across his face as he inspected the broken string. “Sometimes you must find out how much music you can make with what you have left.” The crowd roared again as Mr. Perlman slowly set down his violin, rose from his chair and walked from the stage the same way he had entered.

I often hear adoptive parents talk about how God made their children for them, intending from the beginning, that they be the ones to know, love and nurture the little souls for whom they would walk a thousand miles. I understand and respect the heart behind the words. But as I watch my son’s understanding of the world grow, I also see that he is becoming more and more uncomfortable talking about his adoption. We still talk about it; because I know on the other side of this valley is wholeness, free of shame or mystery. But I cannot accept or tell him that God designed his trauma. I can, however, describe for him the reality of where we find ourselves: hand-made instruments under the chin and in the grip of the Great Musician, capable of make something high and grand out of our days together.

“ . . . for I am the Lord who heals.” Exodus 15:26

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