My Parents, the Virtuosi

Every now and then it hits me: my parents are supremely talented.

I'm not just talking about their parenting skills, which are indeed top-notch. How they managed to keep seven kids, mostly girls, fed and watered and relatively clean and well-kempt and - to be frank - alive strains the limits of the rational mind. On top of that, they managed to guide us into becoming rather decent human beings (we have our faults, but we're also not Nazis, so...).

What I want to focus on is their artistic talents.

My mom is a musical genius. She is a master at the cello and piano, has a voice like literal angels, and plays just about every other instrument known to man at some level of skill or another. She interrupted college to raise her insane family, then went back (once we were all old enough to not set the house...or each other...on fire) and finished her degree in music education.

She even started her own string quartet and for years made a side business of performing at wedding receptions and other events. You can hear how awesome they are at playing songs like "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" or other, She also was a regular member of Columbia's Civic Orchestra (she's the cello player at the very bottom, second row from the right), whose concerts were always a joy to attend.

Not only that, she even devoted time to championing a way to allow others of varying musical talent levels - from mildly capable to "good heavens do you even know what a note is" - to play an instrument and have fun doing it. She explains the idea below (starting at :45):

She loves music so much she can't help but share it and invite others to partake in its beauty whenever she can. Even as she and Dad packed up their lives to go serve a church mission in Arizona for two years, fitting what they could in their Honda Element, you can be sure her cello was in the mix. Much like her and Dad, mom and her cello are basically inseparable.

She even drags the missionaries into it... :)

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Dad is very musically gifted as well - great singing voice, a talent for the baritone/euphonium - but what I wanted to highlight is his gift with words.

So many people have told me, especially since Mom and Dad left for Arizona, they love hearing him speak in church. By nature of his responsibilities in church, he spoke often, and for my part, each time I got to hear him I was enlightened spiritually and intellectually and emotionally.

Dad is soft-spoken - he's not loud or brash - but his words carry a real power because of his conviction in the things he's teaching or speaking about. He is eloquent in writing and in speech, but always humble and dignified in presentation.

This past Sunday, I was thumbing through one of the journals I kept on my church mission, which I always have in my satchel. In it, I have taped to the pages three poems Dad wrote about the Christmas season and its story, which he sent to me while I was in Russia. Somewhere, too, I've got stowed another collection of his poetry. I share one of those poems (hopefully Dad doesn't mind), which in truth to me seem more like psalms in their reverence and display of love for God the Father and Jesus Christ. I hope it carries to your heart the same love and reverence it did to mine:

The Journey

Gather near, come and hear, I shall tell you of a night
Of a journey in a far off land.
Mother mild, great with child, but a census must be made,
And they left for distant Bethlehem.
To the city they came, not a kinsman to their name,
not a soul to offer comfort or cheer;
So they stayed in a shed, blades of straw the lowly bed
Where they laid the newborn babe so dear.

Angel words shepherds heard as they tended in the hills,
And they marveled at the joyous sound;
Leaving lambkins and sheep, all the countryside asleep,
They descended to the blesses town.
To the manger they drew, and their sense of wonder grew,
As they witnesses babe with Mary mild.
And their souls sang for joy, at the tiny infant boy,
Whom the Angels saith is God's own child.

Magi, too, traveled far, guided only by a star,
and the prophecies from years gone by;
Oft they asked on the way, as they traveled night and day,
Still their compass was the light on high;
'Til they came to the place where the Child had grown in grace,
Knelt and proffered gifts of incense and gold:
Then rejoicing, returned; but the wicked king they spurned,
As the Child fulfilled the tales foretold.

We who live in our day, still must journey our own way,
As the shepherds and the kings of old;
And what will be our part? We can keep a tender heart,
Though the "love of many shall wax cold..."
May our soul be the inn where the Savior enters in
And is born again in us this day.
That His praises we'll sing, as we celebrate our King,
and we make His path our chosen way!

I am honored, blessed, and eternally grateful to have parents who, along with their glowing examples of Christian love and service, share their talents so willingly and lovingly and humbly with others.


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