I leaned against the cold marble, pulled up my knees and brought my flute to my mouth, and let the beloved music of home and Christmas fill the frozen air. The French train station was crowded down nearer to the tracks, but not where I sat guarding my backpack. My traveling companions suggested songs and I tried to comply, having no music, as I felt I had sacrificed valuable space already, backpacking around Europe with my flute. I played “Silent Night” and the echoes drifted across the high ceilings and wrapped around the marble pillars. I closed my eyes and tried not to feel homesick as my fingers automatically searched for the next note. A strange smell wafted into my consciousness and I opened my eyes as my song faded.
There, about six feet to my left, tottered a smelly old man, practically toothless, dirty and hunched over with tiredness and cold. He stopped when he saw me watching and stayed where he was. My friend suggested another song and with my eye on the bum, I started to play again. He shifted closer.
I scooted a tad to the right and continued playing. He shuffled nearer still, an odd hum coming from his direction. The backpack to my right prevented me from moving any farther and I lowered my flute to shove the bundle over. My friend said quietly, “He’s not going to hurt you. Your music is beautiful and he just wants to enjoy it.”
Scared and insecure, I began playing again and in spite of my self-consciousness and the smell drawing closer, I lost myself in the music and played to the end of “What Child is This?” In the sudden silence following my song, I heard a burp. I stared helplessly at my buddies who giggled a bit and shrugged. “What are you going to do? He likes your music. It’s his blessing tonight. Play more.”
Leaning to the right, trying to appear as though this were comfortable, I played on as the old man on my left leaned with me. By half-way through “The First Noel” I could look up and see him almost bending over the top of where I sat on the floor. His eyes were closed and a slight curve lifted the sides of his mouth.
At the sight of that smile, I relaxed for the first time since arriving at the train station hours before when we found out our train wasn’t going anywhere. I’d had an agenda – through France and onward to Italy. Let’s move it, Christmas is coming!
I rested my right elbow on my backpack and looked up at the peace on the face above me, smiling and nodding to the haunting notes from my flute. I played on, the sounds amazing in that ancient marble building.I had an agenda, but God has a plan! #blessedbutstressed #christmas Click To Tweet
I had an agenda, but now, with 30 years of hindsight, I wonder if God didn’t have another plan. While I desired travel, to make memories and experience new sights and sounds, maybe I was actually there to be Christmas to a sad and lonely old man on that cold winter night.
I’m facing a crazy busy Christmas season, yet again. I have a new-to-me house to move into, kids to pick up from airports, gifts to wrap and memories to make. I have an agenda. But I need to pause, because I can’t help but wonder what plan God has for me this season. Who will God send me that needs to feel the beautiful music of His love?Who needs the sweet music of God's love? #blessedbutstressed #christmas Click To Tweet
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